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Sunday, May 31, 2015

When Living in a Storm Zone

Do Not Worry  (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Some years ago during the Cold War and the constant threat of mass destruction the age became known as the "age of anxiety." Now, with terrorism, huge inequalities of wealth, distrust by many of the police power of the state, a feeling of political disenfranchisement, national and international unrest – all these things remind us that the age of anxiety is still with us.

I live in a storm zone and tomorrow will be the official beginning of the hurricane season. Yet Jesus would have us not be anxious. Is he nuts or does he have a point to make? Anxiety is detrimental in a vast number of ways, not the least of which is that it can paralyze us. In the face of great anxiety, we typically fret but do nothing effectual.  The way out of anxiety requires a vision of the good and a unity of assent about the commendable nature of the requirement of getting there.  America is a land of diversity and therefore unity can be a challenge.  But this unites us – liberty and the Bill of Rights (otherwise known as the Golden rule enunciated on the national and individual level).  Thus we are unified in our goal. The only question becomes how to get there in hurricane season when multiple threats surround us. 

The only effective antidote to anxiety is concern – concern that is unified by a common goal and faith in the unarguable correctness of that goal. This breeds optimism in the face of potential calamity. It breeds practical planning and cooperation. If concern is not the chosen path, then to escape anxiety we become intentionally complacent  – even cynically so. This paradoxically results in even more chronic and deep anxiety.  So let us put the Golden rule first and latch onto it with the force of faith coupled with intelligent concern and thereby effectually escape a morass of anxieties.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

When It's Dumb to Say "I'm Sorry"

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV).  [with thanks to Through the Year with Jimmy Carter, page 148 and to Angleo Lundy].

Let's say I did a terrible  thing – yesterday while driving drunk, I drove over the curb and killed an eight-year-old child walking home from school. What could I possibly say to the parents that would not sound self-serving? The first and foremost thing that I should not say is "I'm sorry." For this would draw the attention upon me rather than upon the victims; and would be, in a sense,  a ridiculous attempt to  cloak myself as a suffering victim.  Much less hurtful to the family would be a simple – "I did a terrible thing; I apologize to everyone hurt by this."  The clean decency of an apology with a frank admission of guilt is much less offensive than an indirect and self-serving plea for sympathy--a suggestion that even now as the offender, I'm "playing games."

On the other hand, Godly sorrow is called for.  I have an obligation to my Heavenly Father to confess my guilt to him--to tell him in the closet of repentance that I am sorry; for I have sinned not only against the child and family, but against God.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Thank You" St Pete

Last Thursday I thanked the City of Saint Petersburg, FL at a meeting of the City Council.

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As Tongues of Fire

Acts 2:3 New International Version (NIV)
The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.


Romans 8:26-27 New International Version (NIV)

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Last Sunday was Pentecost, the day that commemorates when the Holy Spirit energized an iconic gathering of the Apostles.  Often we emphasize the speech of the Apostles at this meeting.  I would like to emphasize what they saw –  what seemed to be tongues of fire. That is (after sound) the introduction of the Holy Spirit was graphical in nature rather than verbal. The tongues of fire inspired speech and preceded it. It is my belief that this is the case today.  Often the Holy Spirit communicates with flashes of visuals that are later fleshed out in verbal meaning.  It is trite but absolutely true that one graphic equates with 1000 words and involutes feelings that have no ready verbal or rational equivalents. The next time you get hit with an inspiration initiated by the Holy Spirit, consider whether or not visuals (mental or otherwise) preceded language.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Found Wanting

Though you may have prayed for strength in order to achieve great things for God, where has God made you weak, that you might learn to humbly obey him?  (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 476).

My best friend is "keep it simple stupid."  Even so, things can be inherently complicated. I have difficulty following detailed, complex arguments, especially rapidfire oral ones. One might say all  that's required is that I do my homework prior to the meeting.  As financial documents often are the subject of such meetings, it very important to be able to look at these documents with active skepticism and come up with good questions.  Any significantly subtle questions in this regard are beyond me.  This is a weakness of which I am deeply endowed. I counter this weakness with antennae keenly receptive to shades of tone and pray for divine assistance in discernment. A final concern regarding formal meetings is the formality itself which can sometimes constrain creative dynamism in the search for better ways.

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For Those Who Yearn for the Simplicity of the Farm

Ever wonder where seedless watermelons come from?  I have and have found an article from the University of Nebraska that explains it all.  If you find it a bit complex and complicated, then escape with me to city life. 

Click link:

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Errant Inerrancy

What are some modern cultural practices that could erode the purity of the Christian faith? Which of these do you considered the most dangerous? Would the actions of Phinehas [see Scripture below] be a fitting response to this danger today? Why or why not? What does it mean to be zealous for the Lord in today's culture? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 255).

Numbers 25:1-18New International Version (NIV)
Moab Seduces Israel

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”

Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

The Lord said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

The Lord said to Moses, “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them. They treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the Peor incident involving their sister Kozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of that incident.”

U.S. Bill of Rights - Third Article:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

While I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, it is obvious that this cannot mean that it is flawlessly prescriptive, particularly as that relates to the Old Testament.  While America is deeply grounded in faith as regards the Golden rule (witness the Bill of Rights themselves), the condign elements of Scripture are now focused on social justice rather than zealous vengeance. Clearly for this murderous deed, Moses and Phinehas would be in jail today and would be abhorred by 99% of the citizenry. As regards our faith, we must always be discerning in matters relating to "slippery slop" renderings of Scripture.  That is, while we could never condone the murderous practices of the Old Testament, we must direct our living in accordance with all elements making it through the filter of Christ the Redeemer.  

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Basic Spiritual Dilemma

Do you get defensive easily?  How can you receive good feedback on your spiritual growth? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 866).

For me the outlier of adverse and unacceptable criticism is when it becomes clear that whatever I do or whatever I say will be adversely received. The criticism is thus not addressable since corrective action is not possible. I suppose I became this type of critic during the Presidency of Richard Nixon.  At some point, he lost all credibility with me, and I lost respect for him as a person. 

Spiritual criticism is always problematic since I start with the belief that my basic task is to please God rather than man.  This tends to establish a shield against spiritual criticism other than that derived from Scripture or from highly trusted spiritual advisors exceptionally skilled in spiritual discipline. Thus it turns out that the most significant of all matters – spiritual health  – is the most insulated from human criticism.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Enjoying the Process

Which do you like better: starting a task or ending it? Why? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1228).

In answering this question it is important to differentiate passion from infatuation. I have started many a project with infatuation – heightened enthusiasm for a project – only to discover a short distance along the way towards working on it that my temporary enthusiasm– my infatuation – quickly fades and peters out. Now passion encompasses infatuation but has a much broader and deeper context and has staying power.  In these cases stamina to complete the project is abundant and joyfully exercised.  Infatuation tantalizes the mind with engrossing fantasy, but is short-lived.  Ironically, the experienced completion of the project is much more important when infatuation rather than passion is the driver. Infatuation wants quick results; whereas passion enjoys every moment of creativity and the sense of meaning which, though shared by the ultimate end, is not captured by it.  It is all very much like Jesus's story of sown seeds – the seeds that fall on rocky, shallow soil sprang up quickly but as quickly fade; whereas the seeds falling on good ground flourish over time.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Quiet Dignity of Political Reticence

What are the political leanings of your family? Which way do you lean?  (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition,  page 468).

My father was a Methodist minister and I think he felt it would have been greatly unfair to vocally support either political party from the pulpit or otherwise in his church functions. He did occasionally preach on brotherhood (which got him moved several times), but brotherhood could be supported by both mainstream political parties. He intentionally did not put political bumper stickers on the family car. We did not discuss politics much at home, but it was clear to me that my parents were Democrats and that they never missed voting in elections. My brother and I and my sister-in-law all find affinity with most Democratic positions.  Of course, there are times that our own personal public agendas are not realized or even discussed or supported by either political party. We all supported Obama and were exasperated by the strident criticism he received--to the degree that seemingly he could not even breathe right--from what was a solid Republican front.  We have come to understand the kickback of unintended consequences (from our own cherished positions) due to the intractable and multiple nature of causality.  We long for a political environment in which realism, compromise, and goodwill are possible.  

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Big Thing About Little Stories

Why does Nathan speak to David with a parable? How does the parable relate to [what David has done]? Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 452).

Parables reveal principles inherent in situations we like to obscure with complexity. Complexity is our aspirin of choice enabling all kinds of rationalizations. Parables lay bare principles revealing our states of denial for what they are – exercises with greater or lesser intent to deceive ourselves or others.  Nathan told the story about a little ewe lamb that would offend all levels of autonomous ethical sensibilities from adults to children, from the brilliant to the slow.  Parables are the little plays that catch the consciences of both the king and the pauper. In America Abraham Lincoln was a vastly superior President because of his ability to tell stories – parables if you will – that laid bare principle.  

HARD LEMONADE (One of Lincoln's Favorite stories).

  • Out in Sangamon County, there was an old temperance lecturer, who was very strict in the doctrine and practice of total abstinence. One day, after a long ride in the hot sun, he stopped at the house of a friend who proposed making him a lemonade. As the mild beverage was being mixed, the friend insinuatingly asked if he wouldn’t like just the least drop of something stronger, to brace up his nerves after the exhausting heat and exercise.
  • "No," replied the lecturer, "I couldn’t think of it; I’m opposed on principle. But," he added, with a longing glance at the black bottle that stood conveniently at hand, "If you could manage to put in a drop unbeknownst to me, I guess it wouldn’t hurt me as much."
  • — Story relayed by the Cincinnati Gazette
  • From 11 of Abe Lincoln's Favorite Stories (

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bucket in Hand

Who was the most surprising person to ever show up at your door? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1538.

63 years ago in 1952, our family had recently moved into a newly constructed parsonage. One evening about dusk there was a gentle knock at the door. Mother answered the door. I stood at her side, an eight-year-old child. Since we lived in a segregated community, I seldom saw African-Americans. Standing at the door was a young, gaunt black woman in a faded blue and yellow dress that revealed her legs had been scratched  by briars. She was selling blackberries that she had picked.  When mother went to get some money to purchase some berries, I stayed at the door looking openly (as children will do) at her scratched legs. What I saw that night was new to me – the sight of grinding poverty.  It was a feeling later to be revisited upon seeing the poverty of migrant families working the fields.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Right Off the Bat - What Do You Need Most?

What are you most in need of today: protection, guidance or forgiveness? Do you feel you will receive it? Why or why not? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 763).

The Catch-22 of the above question is this: I need guidance to even begin to answer this question. It is readily apparent to me that I may have an opinion about what I need, but this a far cry from knowing what I need in any absolute sense.  If I had been a spectator at the Boston Marathon on April 15 of 2013, perhaps the weather would have been uppermost in my mind – "Just please don't let it rain today." However now we know that I should have been most concerned with safety and protection.  If people asked my mother how she was doing, she would frequently reply "Good, so far as I know."  Realistically "So far as I know"should be the caveat for all that we know.  Even though I'm pretty sure that  2+2 = 4, am I willing to bet my life that it is universally and absolutely true?  If I were a mathematician, I would probably come close to having an answer for that; but surely I am not qualified to make such a statement.  And of course, this side of simple math, the world is full of uncertainty and surprises. So my first and last request of the day is for spiritual inspiration and guidance for all that teems this side of certainty.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Living and Dying Well

What's the relation between "living well" and "dying well".... (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 375).

In response to this question I am going to exclude tragic deaths – the death of the young or "train wreck" deaths.  I exclude them simply because of the difficulty of rationalizing them in any way as "good."  Here I will speak of lives that followed a normal course from birth to death.  Since happiness in life and a fulfilled, graceful death are desirable goals; we can define a happy life as one with purpose and fulfillment (not necessarily a life of privilege and ease) and culminating in a death which incorporates the same.  For as adverse circumstances and the pain of life can be joyfully met and overcome, so can those of death. It is immensely helpful in life and death if one sees that human existence has long-term dimensions whose purposes extend from before birth and beyond the grave. It thus is difficult to avoid the conclusion that people of faith have an advantage in living and dying well.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Homelypresent, Homelypotent, Homelyscient

What commercial could you rewrite to recommend God? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 770).

"Omni" is often used to describe God – omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. Isn't it strange that God sent his only son to domesticate the Deity, making it, in a sense, smaller and more easily grasped. Jesus had a heavenly father. He lived as a child in a regular home – with a carpenter as loving father and with his mother Mary and with brothers and sisters.  When he began his ministry he began small – not with credentialed and certified religious potentates but with everyday fishermen. When he would illuminate the Kingdom, he did so with the simplest of language using homely metaphor and parables that placed the Kingdom within easy reach of common folk--for example the parable of the good Samaritan and the metaphor of the mustard seed.  Much of his ministry took place in the streets, not in halls of power. Therefore if I were to choose a commercial to rewrite I would rewrite the iconic Volkswagen commercial to "Think Small" simply because "Think Big" leads directly to yearning for other gods – aggrandizements of power, might, prestige – most of which are merely projections of our own selfish needs for control and power and our dissatisfaction with being homely yet special members of the Kingdom of God.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Awesome Bridge

God's holiness and universal reign awed Isaiah. Which of God's attributes most impresses you? Why? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 955).

Perhaps it's because I live in the communication age, but the thing that most impresses me about the awesome universal reign of God is the provision of Jesus Christ to bridge all that would separate us though space and time.  The grandest of all phenomena exceeding every capacity of man to understand is made accessible by a plain speaking man walking the roads of Galilee.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Problem with Self Infatuation

There are a number of people who with lesser or greater factual evidence fancy themselves highly exceptional in some way – they may consider themselves a Leonardo da Vinci or a Shakespeare (that is, as creative geniuses in the arts or sciences); or they may have great natural talent; or they may have accumulated great financial, business, or political power; or they may presume exceptional expertise in any of number fields.  The difficulty is that this elevated perch engenders a belief in a broader, more general exceptionalism bestowing upon them a right – even a license – to disobey the rules of health, or more critically, the relational laws of God.  Too many of us have seen this play out in the tragic forfeiture of happiness and, in due course, life itself. 

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Idiotic Excursions into Stark Absurdity

How should Christians respond to another's contempt for the law? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 292)

This morning very early I picked up a 23-year-old friend just released from jail after five days of incarceration. His crime was having a small amount of marijuana for his own use. His court cost was $500. He was not a happy camper. I share his contempt for the law – at least the laws governing marijuana. We allow cancer causing cigarettes to be sold willy-nilly. We allow alcohol in many forms to be sold on shelves within easy grasp of children (and we don't even have on alcohol the minimal advertising restrictions placed upon tobacco). We allow handguns to inundate our land which pose a threat to all law enforcement officers even on trivial traffic stops. Forgive me friends, but sometimes I have contempt for the law because of its idiotic excursions into stark absurdity.

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Essential Necessity of Proximity

Have you ever helped a stranger in distress? What happened? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1441).

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37 : To read in entirety click here.)

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. (Luke 10:31-33).

The degree of compassion often can be determined by the degree of separation from the subject. I know two people that know no strangers-- Kunte Kente Leuallen and Marvin Sweat.  Since these persons know no strangers, they are typically full of compassion and connect with everyone – even those--if I were in their place--would consider strangers. Note in the above quoted passage, the first two along the road passed by "on the other side."  Contrast this to the Good Samaritan who – knowing no strangers – came to where the man was.

I would now like to discuss my three finches, however out of place this might seem. I have recently been staying at a villa opening into a garden. In my old location the finches were located in a side room that I seldom visited.  The blinds were drawn.  I entered only to clean their cage and feed them. In my new location they are in a cheerful spot where I see them regularly. It is remarkable to me the possibilities I now "automatically" think about to make their lives more enjoyable. When they were "out of sight, out of mind" such amenable and charitable thoughts never entered my head.  It was only after I "came to where they were" that ideas for their comfort even ever occurred to me.  Now I see them differently; perhaps it can be said, for the first time, I love them.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Tawdry Business in the Genes

What still tempts people in places of leadership? How can power often corrupt? How would application of this passage [see excerpt from Scripture below] help prevent corruption? What part will you play in the application this week? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 293).

The King, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself.... He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. (Deuteronomy 17: 16, 17).

The principal difficulty with wealth and power is that it reinforces strong animalistic urges within human behavior. As in other animals, the leader of the pack ritualizes its leadership – mankind is no different.  Leaders following this instinct augment their power with displays of power. Ultimately this is based on a generalized fear and an attempt to shield the leader or would be leader from perceived vulnerability. We also see that human behavior within followers serves to reinforce and sustain expected symbolic power augmentation.  It is my belief that the basis of the "money race" in American politics fundamentally derives from this aspect of our animal legacy and is an attempt to weave a credible mantle of leadership.  Pardon me Hillary, but would any of us expect a leader-in-chief to derive from cashiering behind the cosmetic counter at the local CVS (whatever their actual talents may be)?  Of course not, we followers want a "proven" leader with impressive--read "gaudy"--credentials standing tall in the proper power suit--which all require not a little silver and gold.  The residual difficulty for mankind (due to its unique and inherent moral imperatives) is that self-aggrandizement is self-destructive and socially hurtful in the end.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Needed: The Comforting Grace of Forgiveness

When in your life were you most disappointed with yourself?  (Serendipity Bible  Fourth Edition, page 1410).

I have addressed this or similar questions in the past and have mentioned several incidents that are painful to remember. Today I would like to look forward and identify those elements that when occurring will again make me regret  my actions. Some of them I like to think come with the inherent limitations of my makeup – such as not being able to remember names and generally lacking a photographic memory to tenaciously grasp the intricacies of things.  These are embarrassing but not deeply regretful until they are hurtful to myself or others. Hence is identified the key trigger of regret – when action or the lack thereof turns out to be hurtful or harmful, especially where gratuitously and egregiously so (and this does not necessarily imply high profile).  This points to the need for regular confessionals and the comforting grace of forgiveness.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

I Swanee!

If your philosophy of life were ... summed up in a favorite slogan or saying of yours, what would that be? What do you like about it? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1162).

"I Swanee" is similar to "I declare." For me they duly express wonderment when confronted with something unexpected.  I believe that there is a place and need daily for wonderment simply to respond realistically to our surprising universe.

"Did you hear that slowpoke won the race?"
 "Well, I Swanee!"

"Or that life is structured in a double helix?

"Well, I declare!"

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hard Scripture and Mean Politics

When one party says they alone are the true worshipers of God, and all others are a mixed breed, what might be expected in return? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 654).

And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:12).

There are passages in the Bible referred to as  "hard" because they are tough in some ways to accept as the will, purposes, or actions of God.  Most readers of the book of Job find it  grossly unfair for the Lord to let Satan destroy the good life of  Job merely because Satan makes a bet with God  that Job will lose faith when disaster hits him. The main result of "hard passages" is they do not allow us to tidily enclose God in a nifty little box, tying a bow around it and declaring "Look, I got this God thing down pat!" The Scriptures do not allow anyone to make such claims.

Now occasionally political parties arise that would take proprietorship of the Deity.  They claim, in effect, they entirely circumference in toto the will, purposes, and actions of God.  They have him down pat and ensconced in a little box duly tied with a colorful bow and have Him safely secured in their possession.  Ofttimes we find it hard to discern the color of that bow – whether blue or red?

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Obsessed Busybodies Pulling Weeds

Why does the parable so puzzle the disciples? Why is patience and tolerance toward unbelievers  difficult for them (and for us)?  (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1346).

Refer to Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30

Pastor David Miller in his sermon yesterday brought out a good number of interesting points.  One is the great psychological satisfaction that comes with pulling weeds.  I'm no farmer or gardener, but inside my house I squash a roach with gusto and glee.  This sense of righteous power can get us into big trouble when we start deciding which of our fellow humans are worthy... or not.  The simple truth is I'm in no position to declare myself judge and jury--the final arbiter of righteousness.  Pastor David pointed out that in Jesus's explanation of this parable, angels--not humans--finally are the ones to pull the weeds.   Today's lesson: if we would be righteous, we must not be self-righteous.  We must exercise tolerance and patience, understanding that due to perceptual limitations and human frailty, we cannot and will not have the final say in such matters  In fact, when all things become known, we conventionally self-assured "righteous ones" might be in for some big surprises.

(Look for yesterday's sermon at this link:

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Calm at the Center

Show us once more that abiding in your love is as easy and natural as a branch abiding in the vine. Prune our imperfections, that we may grow a heart so strong that all our fears will be cast out, leaving us ready and able to abide in your great love. Amen. (From today's prayer of confession – First United Methodist Church, St. Petersburg, Fl).

The above passage from today's confessional calls to mind one current music video and one news video from 1968.

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