First Presbyterian Church EPC - Corinth MS 38834
Saturday, November 18, 2017
To be disciples...to make disciples.

(i am indifferent to the taste of radishes)

 

You will have to excuse me, but these days i always have a little mud on my shoes and as muddy feet go there is always a reminder of where they’ve been.

 

We’ve prepared the earth

Quite actually we’ve  now stirred it twice and looking forward to a third tilling.  We broke the unplowed land into clods then broke them again into smaller clods and look forward to making it ready.  We’re looking forward to setting down some roots.

 

As a vegetable I am indifferent to radishes  and if given a choice i’d rather eat corn, but as a word i am indifferent to corn but strangely drawn to the word radish. 

In a word

My coffee time around the  broken soil on the hill stirs me to giggle because on the surface it seems such an odd thing for me to be so focused on growing vegetables and two types of flowers.

 There is more to the garden than meets the eye

 To get to the root of the matter you need not look any deeper than an edible that is in fact a root, and if you’ll pardon the liberty my mind takes in association it is somewhat related to the word- it is deep.

Radical - Radicalis- of or from the root or roots; going to the foundation or source of something; fundamental; basic a radical principle -going to the origin.  

Once upon a time the word was used by some teenager named Eddie in Dubuque Iowa in referring to something extraordinary or wonderful.  A surfer in Kansas used the word one afternoon to express ‘ the limits of control.’  Radical could also describe something unconventional or maybe something extreme.

 

The garden will work because we are going to lay down our roots and expect great things.  Unlike much of the hip christian junk mail i get, it is not extreme and  doesn’t carry the punch or flash that is the placard of modern bandwagons.  It is basic and conventional and practical and it wasn’t my idea. (God has been growing gardens for a long time now)

  As simply as i know how, i  want us to go to the depths of our faith by tending to a garden and giving most of it away.  

 

Stay rooted and grow.

 

-g

 

"The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people.

-Zechariah 8/12-

 

 

survey the wonder 

 

I spend some time each morning in and around the newly tilled earth of what is becoming a garden.  I walk through it to feel the soil crumble beneath my feet.  I take handfuls and work them through my fingers. 

 

“Soil is miraculous.  The amount of thriving life and myriad interactions between life in just one handful of soil is beyond the human capacity to understand.”

-Stephen Bartlett

 I slow down to experience the reality of anticipation.  I don’t know much.  I can’t tell you the specifics of what i’m expecting-yet.  I do know that i will recognize growth.  I do know that something beyond me will take place when seed and soil and sun and water are put to the test.  I don’t know much yet how i will respond when i can first detect movement, but i can be certain that i will not be indifferent.  I don’t know how it will ultimately affect the lives of the students who will be ‘raising’ vegetables, but i know i sure expect great things.

 

Right now, it’s just plowed earth, but i can’t get over the potential.  Somewhere in the daily survey it will become a profound habit to applaud God’s generosity in the rhythm of growth.  How pointless stare at a garden and expect nothing.

 

I can’t get over the resurrection.  I take in as much as i can and work it through my mind as best as i can but depend on God to work it into my soul and gift me faith to trust what i cannot grasp.  I don’t know much, but the sacrifice of a cross is sobering.  The depth of applause that rises from within me because of an empty tomb is staggering.

 

If Christ was not raised, His death was in vain, your faith in Him would be pointless, and your sins would still be counted against you with no hope of spiritual life." -John MacArthur

 

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.

-1 Peter 1/18-21

 

I know i sure expect great things.

 

-g  

(wind)
 
“Jacob bent his head, wrapped himself in his prayer shawl, and thanked God for taking the time to have tea with him on this morning.” –Noah benShea from Jacob’s Journey
 
I have spent much of this Wednesday morning doing my work and drinking my coffee from the porch of the Youth House. The days have been unseasonably warm for February but what compelled me from the walls of the office to the wider spaces was not the temperature but the wind.   There was no rain for several hours, only strong wind that bent the trees and shook dead limbs. A few shutters were blown loose from the roof of a house across the street. Debris of who knows what blew past to who knows where as it took flight settling to the ground and then rising again. 
 
There’s something about the wind. It soothes us with a cool breeze or un-nerves us with sirens and warnings. The wind changes things. Its affects are obvious and subtle.
 
In the course of the journey there may have come to you the sound like that of a violent wind from heaven and filled the whole house where you were sitting. (acts 2) It may have been God in a strong whisper speaking to you what you needed to hear. 
Sometimes in the winds of change we fear that God has lost sight of us because the circumstances around us are being rigorously stirred. We become exceptionally aware that ‘we’re not a big as we think we are.’ Events in our lives move things around that are not securely fixed. Then comes the perfectly terrible tension of what our eyes see versus what our faith sees.
 
Today, I have been able to enjoy the wind because I’m not wondering about what it may or may not do. Instead my mind has been fixed on where it came from and who owns it. In these particular hours my intention has been with God instead of a storm of ‘what if.’
 Will this course continue if a siren blows? We’ll see.
 
-g
 
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”
-Isaiah 26/3 
(the shining)
 
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, that you smashed.’”
..and meet me on the mountain in the morning.
 
The golden cow incident was behind him but there was still the reality of the next step, and dealing with stiff-necked Israel who could really get under his skin- but that he loved deeply. There was tension inside him and with others regarding his leadership. He had promises from God in person but was fuzzy on some of the specifics- not to mention the logistics of moving a nation from Point A to Point B across the earth. Moses had issues but Moses knew God and God spoke.
 
At the conclusion of one of the God talks Moses ask to see God’s glory. With some conditions (that would save Moses’ earthly life) God agreed and even told him where to stand..
 
Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin..”
 
 Moses bowed down and worshipped and begged forgiveness and listened as God continued to give specifics for the next phase.
 
Finally Moses came back to base camp and the waiting Israelites with the commandments in his hands
 
“He was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”
 
The result was a perfectly unsettled Israel who finally came round to recognizing Moses’ leadership from God.
 
In his life Moses had some issues. Moses met with God. Moses came down the hill all-aglow.
 
Moses didn’t go to God so he could come back to camp with holy bling. His goal and necessity was to meet with God, the result was radiance. He did not put effort in looking religious He put effort in knowing God.
 
It’s obvious when we’ve been with God..
 
When we meet with God, we make much more sense.
 

-gregg

 

(make much of God)
 
Make much of God. That is what the speaker said.
 
     Make much of God. That is what the writer wrote. 
 
Make much of Me. That is what I think maybe God would say to me face to face if He were to step into my office and sit in the really comfortable chair across from my desk. I might be inclined to respond to God that I already do make much of you – but I believe that my voice would quickly trail off into a murmuring question before I said such a inane thing.
 
I make much of a lot of things but to borrow a line from Bill Shakespeare, it is oftentimes ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ or maybe more precisely realized it is Much Ado about me. Ouch!      But then I go on the defensive and toss a few ideas to God- There are responsibilities, appointments, and deadlines in my life. There are relationships and all the effort of shepherding, and you know better than anyone how messy it is when you are involved in others lives...
 
I look at God sitting in the comfy chair. He is smiling but he isn’t buying any of it. Like a child I try to get in the last word- WITH GOD and get as far as “But.”
 
Making much of God is pretty easy from a high place with a great sunset because it’s easy to see that I have nothing to do with it except applaud. 
Making much of God is natural when my prayer turns out the way I asked because I know I couldn’t have done it.
 
Making much of God is not as natural when my impatience during circumstances argues to do something to bring God around to my way of thinking.
Making much of God is difficult when the soul wrestles with the invisible foes of suffering and death.
 
God leaned forward so that I could see him over all the clutter on my desk, and smiled.
 
It’s not about me. Make much of God.
 
-g
 
‘When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel...’

-Psalm 73/21-22  

 
 
(a penny for my thoughts)
 
Somewhere between Chattanooga and Scottsboro, I listened to a really cool speech on the radio, and then I pulled into a restaurant and ordered a cheeseburger with everything except onions. 
In less than four minutes I was back in my truck with an opened green tea. I spent the next two and a half hours kicking that speech around in my brain.
 
You can’t tell it by looking at me but I process things deliberately. (I actually do pay attention, just not always on the right things) I ruminate to the point of angst at times. I’ve always done this. When I was younger, if I lost a game it could mean hours brooding over the reasons why. Little has changed but maybe age and flashes of maturity have balanced me out some...but
Something has always been on my mind and never has there ever been anyway on any day that it hasn’t been so. But my mind, which is connected to my heart, is upside down and inside out.
 
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
   a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
   and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
   I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
   not as they pretend to be."
-Jeremiah 17/9
 
But we have our moments-
 
The most profound word is God.
 The greatest thought explores the deepest word in a conversation that is speechless.
 The truest offerings of our lives
demonstrate this confluence in a series of countless ripples that touch our relationships and always refer back to the one original and pure truth.
Or in other words-
When we’re thinking of God it’s obvious what’s on our minds.
 
 
 
“Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate.”

-francis chan

 

 

 

 

 

 

(tire down a mountain)
 
 I once pushed an old tire
down
          a really
                    BIG
                          hill.
 
It was very cool watching it build up speed as it rolled and bounced along over whatever obstacles it encountered.   Eventually it slowed down and just fell over.
 
Now, consider our lives rolling and bouncing along down that hill. Let’s put all the positive things that make up a single day in our lives inside that old tire building up speed.   Put in it the appointments that are strung together from the time we rise to the time we finally fall into sound sleep. Understand, these are the good things we enjoy doing, events we enjoy attending and being in charge of without it feeling like a sense of duty and obligation. Gathering speed but we’re still at a pace we can control, but we wouldn’t be very honest if we didn’t recognize that less enjoyable things also piled into our old tire rolling along. Things involving school and work and money and stuff and fear and stress get mixed in with all the good things and before we know it an average days living well can be shifted into the spin cycle bouncing along in all directions. We become dizzy and mistake happiness for joy, and the good things become tainted with anxiety and fatigue.   The speed is amazing and our day is a blur. And what about rest? It’s good if it happens but we don’t always count on it.
 
                                                                                          This is life and we call it normal.
 
I believe God gives us countless nudges across a day to keep us in balance and to remind us of Him…and in those times that I notice it feels just like a warm blanket on my soul. Sometimes we don’t know how cold we are until we are surrounded by warmth…or how fast we are going until we slow dow
I saw God yesterday looking in someone’s eyes, in a whisper, and a hand reaching for mine.
 
-gregg
 
‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’
-Jesus
Mark 7/31
 

(What If?) 

 
What if you were privy to a backstage pass larger than the Beatles at Shea Stadium?
What if you had the chance to hang out on a hillside near Bethlehem with a group of shepherds just minutes before their appointment with the heavenly hosts?
Sure, for those few minutes you would definitely have an edge on them with your Holy little secret. Assuming they ever got used to you showing up for the night watch over the flock, they may not have gotten used to your wry silly smile and your incessant phrase of        “Wait for it, Wait for it.”
The moment the glory broke the shepherd rhythm you would be as ‘overwhelmed’ as the sheep tenders, even though you had the advantage of history and the scriptures, who is ever really prepared for the heavens opening up and receiving a heavy ‘revvy’ from God Himself?
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”
Terrified is right! There aren’t experiences that any of us can compare when God unhooks such steamrollers on average evenings with wooly creatures. You can easily imagine being knocked over as if you had been overcome by a wave and then paralyzed from the tip of your skull all the way down to your big toe.
 
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.
I’m sure you would give the angel a peculiar look. Of all of the options that you may have in that moment- lack of fear would probably NOT be one of them. But, if an angel says, ‘It’s Cool,” and that angel works for God, and you look over and the sheep aren’t crazy scared and upside down, then maybe you’ll ease into awe and begin trying to wrap your mind about what the angel is actually saying.
“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
 
You realize you’ve heard this story. You realize you’ve never really grasped the story with all your senses. You are considering all of this when….
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
Are you kidding me? Like the heart can take another jolt from above. You think to yourself that you never really get used to Gods’ surprises…but you like it. You are still gripped with wonder and extreme awe, captivated, you do not speak but agree, as if on cue your heart swells and nearly bursts with the words of the heavenly host..
 "Glory to God in the highest,
      and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When we are listening, the message resonates with the subtly of a smack in the face over what we know and how we live. Christ has come to us. What are we going to do about it? What if we are thinking well? We echo the passion of the shepherds as they said to one another-
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
-Merry Christmas

 

 (morning light)

With a  morning cup of coffee I sat high in the breakfast nook of ‘the cathedral’ anticipating the dawn. A Pickwick sunrise in late October almost feels as if God has compelled a new day to begin just for you- And so it happened, God poured light into the darkness and it was perfect, or at least almost.

I sat, hoping that the moment would linger, but there was that smell. The Paper Mill burn off smells like money to some, but I put it more akin to something decomposing. 

From my view from the high place the otherwise crystal clear morning was about to be tainted by a thread of cloud and smoke from the mill rising to morning light.

In my head I was already phrasing the event, “Except for the stink bomb rising, the morning was fabulous.” 

When the sun hit the wayward smog I was caught completely off guard.  It was amazing and colorful and orchestrated exactly to the spot where even I couldn’t miss it.  I couldn’t begin to describe the colors.

Isn’t it just like God to transform a beautiful morning out of a smog cloud?

We are misfits and beggars and the best we bring are drink tabs, candy wrappers, and used gum. We are urchins who may not have bathed in grace for quite a while, but when God’s new day pours through us- we can’t begin to describe or imagine the colors!

 

-g

 

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

-1 Corinthians 1/26-29

 

 ~~~

  

It is our choices that show what we truly are… far more than our abilities. –Anonymous

 

Watch the news.

Read the paper.

Pay attention as you move through the day- and you will tend to be overwhelmed by a wide array of bad decisions. Others choices will likely be noticed first, and then it may get personal.  

We may be overcome with a wave of desperation as we take note of mankind behaving badly and recognize that we may be part of the problem. We may even look deep inside of ourselves and think the stew is too thick too stir and that Gods arm is too short to reach us.

Man is man but GOD is GOD so there must be hope. 

‘My son, IF you accept my words AND store up my commands within you,

turning your ear to wisdom AND

applying your heart to understanding, AND

IF you call out for insight AND cry aloud for understanding, AND if you look for it as of silver AND search for it as for hidden treasure,

THEN you will understand the fear of the Lord AND find the knowledge of God…

·        the Lord gives wisdom

·        He holds victory in store for the upright

·        He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless

·        He guards the course of the just

·        He protects the way of the faithful…

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path.

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.’

-Proverbs 2/ 1-11

 

-g

do you believe that I love you

 

  ~~~

 

What if-

“at this moment Jesus comes right to your seat and says -

‘I have a word for you. I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty, and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship,

and my word is this-

 I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are…’”

-brennan manning

  

Gathered  everyday is obvious transparent  mankind  in every space and circumstance that people (young or old) linger and pass in their best efforts and frailty.

In the lunch room, town hall, White House, locker room, classroom, office, library, bedroom, elevator, airplane, strip club, amusement park, jail cell, confession booth, toll booth, crack house, panic room, principals office, emergency room, sanctuary, hotel room, bus station, stadium, court room we feel weighty.  On the job, playground, front porch, rooftop, dance floor, ball field, parking lot, battlefield we feel clumsy.

 Here we are     Where we are      As we are

 

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Jesus (Mt 11/28-30)

 

-g

 

( basic Christianity)
 
Personally, I believe that the most valuable conversations we have are the ‘one on one’ dialogues with God, which lend themselves to the next most pertinent conversations- the ones we have with each other about God. Not all of our conversations are heavy revelations packed with ‘sermon notes’ but rather recollections that inject potency, peace, and good sense into the way we live and move in an average day.
 The natural response to the things that stir us is talk. It comes on the heels of a sporting event or in the thick of politics or gossip. The list goes on and is specific to each of our personal priorities. 
 
Now and then we overhear conversations that remind us that faith is really much simpler than we live. I was taking Joel and Cooper to school. It was a simple enough task with the ever present possibility that between the two of them something “interesting” may develop. By the time of I was aware of their discussion they were already into what a cool day it was and the criteria God used for sunshine and clouds. As we were stalled in the car line at West, the two backseat theologians were considering heaven and what it would be like. By the time they were getting out they had concluded that God would be there so it would be ok. 
 
They got out of the truck. Cooper pulled his hood up on his head, Joel looked at him and pulled the hood up on his and they walked “as a matter of factly” into the school.
 
Maybe that’s a near perfect example of the way we should live.
 
“Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”
-Matthew 6/21 
 
-g
 
 

 ~~~

 

(smpl)

a wise man should be quoted somewhere on the importance of comfortable shoes, dark sunglasses, a dependable pen, and  simple coffee in a Styrofoam cup. There are more and less important things, but you surely agree if not the building blocks of a good day, these are collectively or singularly at least the mortar of a good thing.

Take care of your feet, protect your eyes, write it down, and think about things over an ordinary cup of coffee.   Life is seldom as simple as practical things but if we were to rethink the way we live, the list of the non-essentials may pile up more rapidly and higher than we may imagine.

At the end of the day we want to know that we have lived well. We want to know that we’ve lived our faith, loved our families, ‘looked after the orphans and the widows,’ and kept the pollution of the world from ruining our souls.

It may be what we want, but it may not be where we are. If our faith does not emerge from the conversations we have about God to living portraits that are the indication of God we are still thirsty for a life of meaning and peace.

The sole purpose of faith should not have to exhaustively work to counter our blunders and wonders. Our faith should equip us to simplify the complicated and fortify the essential.

 

-g

~~~ 

 

(23C)

 

To be candid, when flying the friendly skies, I tend to hope that no one will be sitting next to me. I improvise when necessary.

 

Flying is not about comfort if you sit in the seats I do, but it can provide opportunity to catch up on some reading or just listen to music while doing time until you can stretch out again. I don’t mind conversation with a stranger but there is something fantastic about being silent and anonymous in a long narrow group of travelers. 

 

Travel is not always silent.

 

 By the time I arrived at seat 23C, the raspy voiced Iowan had gone to the bathroom and returned to the window seat as I was folding myself into the aisle seat.   I danced the dance of space and movement with this wiry little woman as I stood up for her to crawl and maneuver her way to her seat. 

 

It’s in the first moments with strangers that are usually awkward but interesting. Speak or not, stare ahead or make eye contact, offer a breath mint and begin jockeying for the middle armrest.

 

       The character of Radar (from MASH) was from Ottumwa, Iowa.

Lynne (the raspy voiced Iowan) was also from Ottumwa.

 I asked if she ever saw Radar at 4th of July picnics or ribbon cuttings. She was impressed that I knew of Ottumwa. She spoke to everyone around us; she had already made friends with a 3 year old named little Dre and introduced me to his family whom she had met on an earlier flight. I was strangely compelled to listen  to her stories of poodle breeding. I was moved by her having recently buried her prize poodle of 17 years which I’m certain she called Practice Poodle. She told me the story of her first son nicknamed Pink because of his skin tone when he was born which she admitted was cute when he was born but never expected it on nametags in his business. Lynne was not a delicate rose, she cussed and fussed and laughed and remembered. She was weathered and cool with herself and didn’t leave a lot to guess about. She spoke of seeing her high school classmates leave for Vietnam. She was on her way to visit her son (not Pink) and his family in North Carolina who was being deployed to Afghanistan in 12 days. She spoke directly and shed a tear. I carried her Chicago Bulls duffle bag through the Raleigh airport then hugged her goodbye.

 

And here’s the thing- I liked her. She was fresh and weathered. She love and adored her family. She loved on little Dre in the seat behind us. She cussed like a sailor and was very gracious to the flight attendants. Lynne was kind and I wish you could meet her. She wasn’t into ‘church’ but allowed me to carry her duffle bag and said it was alright if I remembered to pray for her (“but mainly my son”)

 Travel with God with intense and deliberate reverence.

Traveling Mercies, enjoy the Journey.

 

-g

 ~~~

 

(Looking back Straight ahead)

Let’s say God invites you to lunch, and in the course of this and that, the conversation turns to the ‘glory days’…whose glory would you rather talk about?

 It’s a good thing to remember where we came from.

It’s part of any great story to begin from meager beginnings and wind up on cereal boxes. Sometimes the memory is a little fuzzy on specific details but we’re quite sure we walked barefoot…in the snow…uphill…both ways just to get to school and it was not uncommon at all to have to fight a grizzly bear with a loose leaf notebook. It’s a better thing to remember how God has weaved himself into our lives by compelling us into Him. 

It’s necessary to live and remember our faith history or we may cheat on God. He connects us to Abraham and Isaac. We see Egypt, divided seas and drowned armies. We see great battles that only God could win. We see God keeping His word through a messiah…      And then we remember 2 months ago, a week,            yesterday,         even this morning of how the very same God of Moses carries and sustains us. 

 The way of faith is honest. It is  wonderful and grueling. Our dialogue with God is  sometimes effortless and then on other days the struggle is intense.     

In the excited fear of tall waves and trenches or the struggle of conflict we tend to be far more focused on the intimate necessity of to God.    So Remember.

And there are seasons of calm and ease. These are the  moments we may hope and pray. And in the inheritance of blessing find ourselves  in lands we did not work…and towns we did not build…eating the fruit we did not plant…

and it comes a little to easy maybe that we aren’t appreciative and become soft. We can lose our way in common place duties and everyday faith. How sad if our sincerity became  fluffy and naïve? How tragic if we lose our wonder of God?

 Then the words of Joshua land perfectly against our overconfidence-

 So now, fear God and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away your disposable and combustible gods.

 You, Worship God.

 Don’t take it lightly.

‘If you think it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather server—and do it today.’ 

‘But as for me and my family, we’ll worship God.’

 

Joshua 24.

 

-g

 

~~~ 

 

big j’s charge

 

how many of life’s conversations stick to the soul?

big j. as many of grandchildren may have called him, engaged a great conversation. He sent word to the big boys, the movers and shakers, the hot shots, to the leaders of the leaders, and heads of the families inviting them to his place. He didn’t mention the details of why or who else would be there…just a time and place and that refreshments would be served.

…and so they came to see big j.    He lived a life that left a wake worthy of reverence. They came for an unknown conversation with a man of impressive dignity that they loved and trusted. They had had great conversations before, which is a very good catalyst for an ensuing conversation. And as in all the previous dialogues I would say that they were fairly certain who the chat would involve.

He sat in his favorite chair more for comfort than show and placed it in a part of the large room where the acoustics were best so he could be heard. He thought it ridiculous invite them to a charge they could not hear.

…they arrived by ones and two and groups each making the effort to bring greetings from their (his) families. They patted his back, shook his hands, kissed his forehead, and there were even a couple of “high fives” from some of the younger ones.

big j sat the assembly down, smiled at them, cleared his throat and began to speak 

I’m old and been around a few years. You have seen everything God has done to your enemies…because He’s God…your God! He fought for you.

 

STAY ALERT!

  

STAY STRONG AND STEADY!

 

PAY ATTENTION to the book of the REVELATION OF MOSES!

 don’t miss a single detail. Don’t get mixed up with the lingering nations and their little gods. Hold tight to God, your God, just as you’ve done up to now.

VIGILANTLY GUARD YOUR SOULS! 

Love God, Your God and  Don’t wander off. 

As you can see I’m about to go the way we all end up going. Know this with all your heart, not one detail has failed of all the good things God has promised. It has all happened. Nothings left undone—not so much as a word.

STAY ON COURSE!

But Joshua was just getting warmed upcheck out Joshua 24.

 

-gregg

 ~~~

 

(Let’s Eat)

 

 in the dark hours of morning before dawn he walked along the beach. As he gathered driftwood in his arms he thought of his friends. He looked forward to seeing them again.

He knelt down as he arranged the wood and smiled at the methodical task of providing flame that would lend itself to become an adequate fire for cooking. 

He did not hold a grudge with these men, his friends, who had bailed on him during some tough hours. Once again, he saw past their fragile intentions, untested ‘big’ ideas of how things would be, their boisterous voice of loyalty and their collective collapse under the foggy weight of fear and confusion. He only smiled at their potential as he stoked the fire with a stick, then went and caught  fish for the big surprise.

 

In the hour where darkness turns gray he saw a boat just off shore with 7 men fishing. 

“Friends, don’t you have any fish.?”

“No,” they answered.

“Then thrown your net to the right side of the

boat and you will find some.”

…they did and the catch was Huge.

From the shore he heard one of the men on the boat say, “it is the Lord” and right after that a loud splash.

 

1 friend swam, 6 friends brought in the boat (and fish) and in the break of day friends gathered…a perfect one surrounded by his speckle skinned friends of humanity.

 

He asked for some of the catch…

“Come and Have Breakfast.”

And they gathered around the fire, maybe some nudged Pete as he was still wet from his freestyle swim to shore, some remarked at the 153 fish that were compelled into the net. They laughed and were full in the moment as well as in their bellies.

 

And then in perfect place and time (where you and me would thump Pete hard for his denials and maybe send him packing back into the open sea,)   Jesus began a conversation that would restore him to leadership. He would convey to him that he wasn’t ticked at him but rather that there was specific work to be done. It was very much a conversation about love that Pete needed to grasp.

 

Perfect love calls misfits to shore and feeds them.

 

-g

 

  ~~~

 

(what’s in a name)

 

it’s a cloudy Tuesday afternoon. it’s been raining on and off again for the past 24 hours and i have now eased into the moment of when Peter met Jesus…

 …because rain reminds me of change and adjusting from the balance of sun to the rhythm of rain.

 …because everyday is not the same and if we were to build our own days they would very seldom involve discomfort, cloudy skies, and growing from A to B.

 …because moving through these days where all is not as we would have it shapes us into who we will be when we arrive

…because none of us welcomes the sculptor when the dust on his face is from our shaping.

 …because he loves us where we are and  names us for what he knows we will become 

Before Peter met Jesus he went by the name Simon (son of John.) 

Jesus called him Peter not because of who he was but for what (by God’s grace) he would become. 

it’s now a rainy Tuesday afternoon in late May.

 what is your name?

 

-gregg

 ~~~

The Truth Shall Make You Odd

 

“What characterizes Christianity in the modern world is its odd-ness. Christianity is home for people who are out of step, unfashionable, unconventional and counter-cultural. As Peter say, ‘strangers and aliens.’

…One Sunday morning, during the time for prayer requests, a member began describing the critical illness of her father. Because she was close to her father, her request for prayer was frequently interrupted by tears. Those around her reached out a hand or nodded with sadness. Some found their eyes filling with tears as well. The woman finished her request as best she could.

Seated in the front row was Sadie- a young woman with Down’s syndrome. Sadie stood and walked up the aisle until she saw the woman in the middle of her row. Stepping over the feet of other people in the aisle, Sadie reached the woman, bent down on her knees, laid her head on the woman’s lap and cried with her.

Sadie ‘inconvenienced’ an entire row of people, stepped on their shoes, and forced them to make room for her…but none of us will ever forget that moment. Sadie is still teaching the rest of us what the odd compassion of Christ’s church looks like.

Someone said, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.’ Whoever made that statement understood what it means to be a follower of Christ.”

-Mike Yacanelli

 

-sincerely g

 ~~~

 

(build without excuses)
 
What makes us lose our cool?
 
Why why why whythe hissy fits, temper tantrums and conniptions?
What What WHAT triggers the come aparts and break downs?      
 
?????? trips us up, makes us stumble, blows us over, unravels our step…makes us come unglued?
 
? shuts us down, turns us off and stops us in our tracks,
 makes us pout,      ? makes us shut up, throw up, snivel, want attention and come unglued?
 
?hy are we prone to be self absorbed, selfish, stubborn, lazy, unteachable, unreachable and unlovable and riddled with excuses?
 
a list (in part) of our favorite things:
pressures at work…traffic…school…umpires…politics…children…parents…dogs…
republicans… cats…religion…gas prices… …schedules…presidents…alcohol…responsibility…convenience…democrats…
playing the victim…people…war…poverty…pro-lifers, pro-choicers…gossip…cbsabcnbcespncnncmtmtvbetmsnhbovh1fox…
 
 
Maturity on the horizon? Yes, I think hopefully.
we are geared to out grow the reasons we keep for losing our cool WHEN we apply God to our desperate moments of humanity.
 
 
  So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
2 Peter 1 / 5-9
 
-g
 
 
 
 
(the dribbler)
 
the youth house basketball court attracts a community of people who own basketballs. It is being used by a lot of people other than the ‘housers’ all through the day.
 I’ve met many of them, played with several, kicked a few off for  because of minor issues, and “encouraged” them to pick up their trash. I recognize the regulars and each week see at least a couple of new faces. It’s an obvious and honest liaison between church and community but it’s probably not going to see any rise to the NBA.
I’ve seen them get out of their cars half expecting an ESPN crew to rush them for an exclusive interview. 
I’ve heard smack talk from
‘wanna be’s, should’ve beens,
and glory dayzers.’
 They act an awful lot like basketball players…and then they begin to play.   Some can…really well…and many can’t.
 I watched a couple of minutes of a game of 3 on 3. Each team had a particular guy that always called for the ball. Each team had a guy that really liked to dribble.
 But it was the kind of dribble that wasn’t necessary or productive.   It was more flash less substance.
 More or less used with the intent to dazzle- produce awe- and to inject just a hint of fear and trepidation
 into the heart of his opponent (which I don’t think it did) or maybe  it was to impress me with his credentials that might justify his use of the court..(which I didn’t require)  It was silly, but I was amused and strangely drawn into the  ‘dribblery’ so I lingered on the edge.
 
He had a $20 dribble and a $1 shot.
On the three occasions he called for and received the ball…he did the crazy dribble and shot…  touched nothing but the atmosphere beneath the chain net and shot again over the rim like an orbiting satellite and again  so high off the backboard I thought I heard the goal giggle. The game went on,    I went inside.   I have a twenty cent dribble that is woefully predictable and the greatest part of my shooting is that it’s odd and from the left side, so I consider myself qualified in recognizing poor fundamentals …but they were enjoying themselves if not completely honest with their own egos.
 
We’re all prone to clothe the “trivial with glitter” hoping  to impress. But it really only makes the wayward shot that much funnier.
All that glitters is not gold
and our dribble or patented move probably doesn’t impress God that much…
I wonder what does?
-gregg
 
 
 (is it penny wonder)
 
I have been noticing pennies a lot in the past few weeks-
In the obvious places: under the cushions, parking lots, floorboards, pockets, and ash trays…
In stranger places:  window sills, roofs, the woods and flower beds. It’s not that strange but I’m noticing them without a great deal of effort.
 
I guess no one really intends to notice a penny except maybe when you’re making change and trying to move them along. 
 I’ve been noticing pennies with surprising regularity.
 
I have been picking these pennies up. Why wouldn’t I unless I were incapable?
 
Is a penny worth the stooping?
It costs more to make than it’s worth, so it hardly seems worth the strain      …but still- it seems wrong to not pick it up.
 
I once read that you can tell how responsible a person would be with a million dollars by examining how responsible he is with a dime. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. I don’t dream about wealth but I do want to be responsible.
 
Perhaps I’m more frugal than I thought.
 
Maybe I have a soft spot for the under dog (and let’s face it in the world of currency), the misplaced, dropped, stray or fallen penny is disposable to some.
 
Maybe it’s the human connection or mystery to who had the penny before I picked it up…?
 
Nevertheless, when I see one, I pick it up…and I’ve been noticing them a lot. Maybe there are a lot more pennies on the ground these days…or maybe I’m paying attention and pennies are what I’m seeing? 
 
I have been giving it some thought…and giving the pennies to joel (who is saving up for something big) I’ve been discussing it with God in the same way you make eye contact with someone who was caught leaving you a gift on your steps.
 
Is it penny wonder that I see grace when out of endless possibilities to see every thing large and loud I notice a penny in the shade.       
 
I ask God to interact and “show up” in the large and neon kinds of ways and miss him in the subtle and remarkable. He’s been slowing me down and pointing to things extraordinary that I miss in my speed of a day unless I slow down.
 
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
-I Thessalonians 5/16-18
 
-gregg
 

 

 

(on cell)
 
You may not have one. You may have one but don’t want it. You may not have one and don’t want it but have borrowed one instead of using a pay phone.  You may have one that you keep in your car and only your car. You may have one that is STRICTLY for medicinal purposes – making a quick and to the point phone call.                  OR
You may have it with you everywhere you go and use it for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
 In our tech craved, convenience store, quick and easy, no contemplation mentality, we are on Cell like a blue light special.
 
We’re attached by necessity, by cool, or the crazy contraption hanging on our ear.
 
They’re handy   in our need for rapid communication on the technological globe. We are in touch. 
The world seems smaller (but isn’t) We are advanced and linked to each other through a machine (but it’s not like we’re making discoveries to change the world...it tends to be more like global gossip…using words but not saying a lot.
 
They’re a pain-     they’re an intrusion. Some of us can’t/don’t know when to turn them off…it’s hard for some of us to sit still and have a face to face conversation without someone else beeping in. Personal contact and good listening skills are being invaded by a multi tasking with less eye contact dialogue.
 
There is constant interruption
to the creative process of living.
 
 I can easily recite numbers that I called frequently when I was young using ye olde rotary dial phones which gave plenty of time for pause and reflection waiting for the numbers to spin but with a machine holding my memory at the speed of thought for me, I don’t even have to be conscious to make a call.
 
 we aRe on cell. We don’t leave home without them. We may forget our homework and our Bible but the phone is with us.  
 
 QUESTION? When was the last time we went 1 day without using the cell? (Being out of the country or in a remote part of your county counts ½ a point)
 
So what?                   We’re on cell.
In balance, it’s a tool. 
Out of balance-it’s a continuous distraction in the process of faith.
 
Another question? –If we’re on the phone more than we pray OR read more text than scripture OR play more games than think of God,       How does it affect our life?
 
 You can reach me at #........
 
-gregg
 

Week of April 7-

‘Madmen and pigs’
 
The eclectic group of men that Jesus invited to journey with him never knew just what to expect.   That He was full of surprises- an understatement. Each dusty step and fishing trip was producing change in them – also an understatement. 
He knew exactly where He was going, they did not!
 
“Boys we’re in a tight spot!” was probably whispered frequently by the disciples…and if so, overheard by Jesus. Maybe He smiled as he continued to lead them across the region of the Gadarenes.
He knew exactly where He was going, they did not!
 
Maybe they noticed that there was no traffic on the stretch of road near the cemetery. Maybe they noticed citizens looking at each other with eyes that held strange secrets. Maybe they fidgeted with their knives. Maybe they smiled.
 
And then from the cemetery came two demon possessed men heading straight for Jesus calling him the ‘Son of God.’ They knew who He was and recognized that the Judge had just arrived. His mere presence caused them to fear (knowing they would be driven out of the men) and begged to be sent into a herd of pigs.
 
“GO”
was the only word Jesus spoke to the madmen.   In a word the demons were expelled into the herd of swine, rushed into the lake and died.
 
Pig tenders told the town and the town came to Jesus.
( and you would think they would be grateful what had happened…but they most certainly were not)
 They asked Jesus to leave.
 
Perhaps the disciples (once again) scratched their chins in wonder of their friend Jesus who had power over demons and who cared more about  two possessed men than property.
 
Perhaps the disciples (once again) scratched their chins in wonder of people who cared more about their property than God’s deliverance.
 
They took it all in and followed Jesus to…