"For us let it be enough to know ourselves to be in the place where God wants us, and carry on our work, even though it be no more than the work of an ant, infinitesimally small, and with unforeseeable results."
-- Abbé Monchanin

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quote for the Day

This is a rather extensive quote. However, in an age where there is preoccupation with "propositional truth" on one hand and an infatuation with "signs and wonders" on the other, it restores a sense of reality.

Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but . . . at supper time, or walking along a road. This is the element that all the stories about Christ's return to life have in common: Mary waiting at the empty tomb and suddenly turning around to see somebody standing there--someone she thought at first was the gardener; all the disciples except Thomas hiding out in a locked house, and then his coming and standing in the midst; and later, when Thomas was there, his coming again and standing in the midst; Peter taking his boat back after a night at sea, and there on the shore, near a little fire of coals, a familiar figure asking, "Children, have you any fish?"; the two men at Emmaus who knew him in the breaking of the bread. He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.
--Frederick Buechner
Listening to Your Life [this quote extracted from The Magnificent Defeat]

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I Found a Song

I found the words to a medley I liked from the '70's. It's parts of three songs. I've put the words here without the repeats, since it's just the message I'm interested in at the moment. (Give thanks this is not a podcast, so you don't have to endure the sad sounds I make when I try to sing and play guitar!)

Lord, I'm lost inside,
and don't know where I'm goin'.
I'm twisted and tied in masking tape,
trying to hide my mistakes.
before the tears start flowin'.

And right now I don't know what to do.
And though I keep turnin' to you,
Still I'm not knowin'.
What? Who? When?
or Why?
or How?
And Lord your love's not showin' right now.

Did you ever feel lonely,
though you knew you weren't alone?
And it hurt somewhere inside you,
and your song became a groan?

Lord, you said you'd be with me,
and I take you at your word.
But right now I need a touch
and a voice that can be heard.

Reach out and touch
somebody's hand.
Make this world a better place,
if you can.

His touch, his kindly touch,
Can rustle treetops,
Scatter raindrops,
Ease the suff'ring on all the earth.

O use me,
Use me, Lord,
As your eyes to see the need,
Your hands the poor to feed,
Your voice the truth to sing.

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Capt'n Shrub"

Capt'n Shrub is the captain of a large cruise ship. He's been going around pushing passengers off the deck of his ship. Whenever one splashes into the ocean, he calls out, "Man overboard!" and throws a life preserver. He never stops the ship to pick up the overboard passenger. He does have a rope ladder hanging from the stern of the ship and if a passenger can reach it and climb aboard, he is given a large towel. Once he is dry, the towel is taken away and he is charged an extra fee for cleaning the towel.

Lately, the ship has been running low on life preservers, since so few are recovered. Capt'n Shrub has asked the board of directors of the cruise line to buy more life preservers. When they questioned the reason for the shortage of life preservers, Capt'n Shrub accused them of not caring for the passengers' safety. He suggested that they should be sued for negligence if they did not authorize the extra expenditure for additional life preservers.

Some members of the board tried to find out why so many passengers were falling overboard. When they learned that Capt'n Shrub was pushing them over the railing, they suggested that if Capt'n Shrub, himself, cared for the passengers' safety, he wouldn't be heaving them over the railing.

Capt'n Shrub responded that these board members were starting a mutiny and should be court martialed. Besides, the passengers came on board voluntarily and being thrown overboard was just a part of life on a ship.

Some of the board members are trying to find a way to stop Capt'n Shrub from continuing to throw passengers overboard. Others argue that as captain, he has absolute authority on the ship and the board should not try to tell him how to sail. After all, a ship can only have one captain.

Other board members are trying to stop more passengers from boarding the ship so that more lives will not be lost. Others oppose them, arguing that profits must be preserved by always sailing with a full ship.

About the only point where all board members agree is that passengers who are able to reboard the ship after the plunge should be given a cup of hot soup to go with the dry towel and they should not have to pay for cleaning the towel afterwards.

Meanwhile, the coast guard continues to fish corpses out of the ocean.

"Not the Sharpest Blade"

I was in the hardware store the other day and ran into my friend George (see
"Digitally Speaking" or "Fingerless George"). I asked him what he was looking for and he said he needed to find the sharpest blades available for his saw.

"What are you building now?" I asked.

"I'm continuing with that project I was working on the last time we met," he said.

"Have you changed the plans so that things fit this time," I asked?

"Well," he said, "I'm keeping the same dimensions but using oak instead of pine now. I'd tried to save money before by doing things on the cheap. Now I'm going to spend whatever it takes. This time I'm going to run two boards through the saw at a time. That'll get things done quicker."

"Won't it be hard to do with your missing fingers?" I asked.

"Oh, that's why I need a sharper blade," he said.

I'm not sure I understood that reply, but . . . Excuse me. I hear a siren. Let me look out the window. It's an ambulance and it's stopping at George's house.

I wonder how George is going to continue his project with no fingers at all. It won't be a pretty sight!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tortured Theology

Brian Kaylor's article, Tortured Theology, at Welcome to Ethics Daily says in part:

Psychologist Carl Jung once argued, "The healthy man does not torture others--generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers."

After the National Association of Evangelicals recently endorsed a statement by Evangelicals for Human Rights that condemns torture, many conservative Christians attacked both the NAE and the statement.

In doing so, these Christians--including some Southern Baptist leaders--proved that Jung's statement is true when it comes to theology. For it is not the theologically healthy that condone the torture of those created in God's image, but those with tortured and perverted theology.

Kaylor is correct to find the roots of the un-Christian conduct and teaching of current Southern Baptist leaders in a "tortured and perverted theology." Somehow in the zeal to gain converts and produce "effective" leaders during the era of their spiritual formation, good baptists failed to disciple these future (now current) leaders and ground them in a biblical and personal relationship with the one we call Lord, Jesus, the Christ. Their theology is perverted.

Monday, March 19, 2007

One Fool or Two?

Two motorists coming from opposite directions met at a single lane bridge.

"Back up so I can cross," one motorist called out to the other.

"No, you back up so I can cross," replied the other.

"I won't back up! You back up," responded the first motorist.

"Never! You back up first," retorted the second motorist.

This argument continued for some time until one motorist exclaimed, "I don't back up for fools!"

"I do," said the other motorist, and backed up. Both motorists then were able to cross the bridge.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
-- Romans 12:17a, 21 NIV

Anti-biblical Southern Baptists

Once again the SBC leadership has shown itself to be in opposition to biblical teaching. EthicsDaily reports that
Daniel Heimbach, professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, last week in Baptist Press termed an NAE-ndorsed anti-torture statement "a moral travesty managing not only to confuse but to harm genuine evangelical witness in the culture." . . . Heimbach has long argued against an outright ban on torture, saying the United States should instead base interrogation of prisoners on "just war" principles guiding use of force in military conflict.

Now, the Bible I read says

Never pay back evil for evil. Let your aims be such as all men count honourable. If possible, so far as it lies with you, live at peace with all men. My dear friends, do not seek revenge, but leave a place for divine retribution; for there is a text which reads, 'Justice is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.' But there is another text: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; by doing this you will heap live coals on his head.; Do not let evil conquer you, but use good to defeat evil.
-- Romans 12:17-21 NEB
I notice that the passage begins with the word 'never.' No exception for interrogations. It says "If your enemy is hungry, feed him." It does not say, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him unless he is being deprived of food as part of an interrogation process."

Finally, the passage says, "Do not let evil conquer you, but use good to defeat evil." When we return evil for evil, we have been defeated by the evil we are trying to oppose. We have become evil ourselves.

When one supports torture or "aggressive interrogation," one denies the authority of Holy Scripture. How ironic that those who seized power in the Southern Baptist Convention under the guise of defending the authority of the Bible should so blatently act and teach in opposition to it.

"Touch the face of the divine"

I ran across this on Les Chatwin's blog, A Child of the Wind:
"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven." 2 Cor 12:2

I was on my way to the third heaven but I was stopped at customs and turned back; too much baggage.

Makes one stop and think. What baggage am I carrying that keeps me from the third heaven?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Quote for the Day

"Do not try to imagine what God is like. Instead, simply believe in His presence. Never try to imagine what God will do. There is no way God will ever fit into your concepts."

-- Madame Guyon
Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quote for the Day

"To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God's first love, we have to be mystics."

-- Henri J. M. Nouwen
In the Name of Jesus

Friday, March 16, 2007

Quote for the Day

"Possessions are not God's blessing and goodness, but opportunities of service which he entrusts to us."

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
No Rusty Swords

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Quote for the Day

"The New Testament does not offer us techniques and expedients: it tells us to turn to God, to depend upon his grace, to realize that the Spirit is given to us, wholly, in Christ."

-- Thomas Merton
Contemplative Prayer

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quote for the Day

"To repent is not to feel bad but to think differently."

-- John H. Yoder
The Original Revolution

Monday, March 12, 2007

Turmoil in Zimbabwe

See articles on Turmoil in Zimbabwe at Observations of Africa.

The use of security laws to maintain power in Zimbabwe should serve as a warning to us as Bush and his party play upon our fears to enact laws which can be abused to retain power. Read up on how the emergency powers legislation enacted by Ian Smith's regime has been extended by Mugabe to exert terror in his nation.

Quote for the Day

"If you don't want the effect, do something to remove the cause."
-- Thomas Merton
The Seven Storey Mountain

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Quote for the Day

"A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol."
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
No Rusty Swords

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Obama: Man of the World

jurassicpork at Welcome to Pottersville has an excellent article by Nicholas D. Kristof: Obama: Man of the World. It points out some of the unique experiences Obama would bring to the presidency that are currently missing.

Quote for the Day

Prayer is the sum of our relationship with God.
We are What we pray.
The degree of our faith is the degree of our prayer. The strength of our hope is the strength of our prayer. The warmth of our charity is the warmth of our prayer. No more nor less.

-- Carlo Carretto
Letters From The Desert

Friday, March 09, 2007

Quote for the Day

"The whole gospel kerygma becomes impertinent and laughable if there is an easy answer to everything in a few external gestures and pious intentions."

-- Thomas Merton
Contemplative Prayer

Reaping the Harvest -- A Parable

A certain farmer made an amazing discovery. He discovered that at any given time, somewhere in the world, crops were being harvested. He knew that the goal of all farmers was to reap an abundant harvest. So he decided that it would be best if he quit expending energy and resources cultivating, planting, fertilizing, irrigating and weeding. He would get the best return for his investment if he would concentrate upon going to where the harvest was.

The farmer put his plan into action. He was overjoyed with the results. No longer did he have to spend his limited financial resources on plows and tractors, on fertilizers and irrigation equipment. He only needed harvesting equipment and transportation. He no longer had to wait from the time of planting until the time of harvest to reap the rewards of his labour. Every day was harvest day. His only wasted time was when he traveled, and with a sound strategy, that could be minimized.

The farmer was so successful in his new approach to farming that all his fellow farmers decided to follow his example. Soon the land was filled with harvesters. Plows lay idle. Irrigation equipment rusted. Fertilizer remained unsold in the warehouses. Except for harvest time the fields were empty. Everyone was focused on their primary task of reaping the harvest.

Then someone noticed that the bumper crops that they had previously experienced were beginning to be fewer and fewer. Some places produced so little that transport costs could not be recovered, let alone any profit. No crops were being planted. No fertilizer was being applied. Irrigation had ceased. Only weeds were growing.

Soon, there was nothing left to harvest. 
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers;
(I Cor. 3:6-9a NIV)


Scripture Passage for the Day

Was me dat wen tell you guys bout Christ first time. Dass jalike I wen plant da seed. Den Apollos wen come teach you guys. Dass jalike he water da seed I wen plant. But God, he da One dat make um grow! So, den, dass why no matta who plant da seed, o who water um. Ony one ting matta, dass God, cuz he da One dat make um grow. Da guy dat plant da seed an da guy dat water um, dey working togedda jalike one hui. Everybody goin get pay fo wat dey do. Cuz us guys an God, we work togedda.

--Numba 1 Fo Da Corint Peopo 3:6-9a
Da Jesus Book (Hawaii Pidgin New Testament)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Quote for the Day

"It is unfortunately true that those who have complacently imagined themselves blessed by God have in fact done more than others to frustrate his will."

-- Thomas Merton
Contemplative Prayer

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Quote for the Day

"So true prayer demands that we be more passive than active; it requires more silence than words, more adoration than study, more concentration than rushing about, more faith than reason."

-- Carlo Carretto
Letters From The Desert

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Quote for the Day

"Instead of production being for the sake of man, man exists for the sake of production. Thus we live in a culture which, while proclaiming its humanism and pretending indeed to glorify man as never before, is really a systematic and almost cynical affront to man's humanity. Man is a consumer who exists in order to keep business going by consuming its products whether he wants them or not, needs them or not, likes them or not."

-- Thomas Merton
Contemplation in a World of Action

Monday, March 05, 2007


I got to see part of Barak Obama's speech and all of Hillary Clinton's at Selma yesterday. Both dealt with substantive issues and both sought to establish identity with their audiences. The major difference I observed was that Clinton gave a good rousing political speech while Obama preached a powerful sermon.

If Obama's imagery of the "Joshua generation" catches on, and truly grips the imagination and will of the American youth of today, we could begin dreaming a new dream in this nation and potentially renew the struggle for justice for all. To be effective, this vision must transcend ethnic and cultural boundaries embracing the diversity of American society.

There is a word from the land of Obama's father that could be a great rallying cry. "Harambee!" That is a Swalihi expression first used on the docks as a chant to encourage workers to pull in unison when loading and unloading ships. The second syllable is drawn out and everyone pulls on the explosive accent of the last syllable. It has come to be an expression encouraging people to work together.

Harambee! Let's pull together!

Quote for the Day

"Every man who delights in a multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within. If you love truth, be a lover of silence."

-- Isaac of Nineveh (Syrian monk)
Quoted by Thomas Merton in Contemplative Prayer

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Truth about War: on Tragedy and Sacrifice -- Andrew Tatum

Andrew Tatum has a powerful blog entry regarding the war. It's dated October 16, 2006, but I only discovered it now. The following is a quote that expresses powerfully the superior power of the Gospel over that of guns, bombs, and other instruments of violence.
Understand this: I have profound respect for those people who serve in the military. I never want to demean their lives or belittle their deaths. The reason that I respect military persons stems from he fact that they do actually live out what they believe is right - something that pacifist Christians can learn from. They fight for and suffer with innocent people who have no defenders. But in the end, the point is this: in the resurrection of Christ, their fighting is not necessary. This is why my respect for military persons is not rooted in the belief that they fight for me: because they don’t. God fought for me and won two-thousand years ago when he was beaten, humiliated, crucified, and raised from the dead thereby eliminating the need for war on our behalf. I have seen the poster that says, “A Modest Proposal for Peace: Let the Christians of the World Agree That They Will Not Kill One Another.” If this were to become a reality, then maybe the world would see the senseless nature of war and we could, indeed, have peace in the name of Jesus Christ.

There are things I personally am willing to die for. There is nothing I am willing to kill for. No one else is authorized to kill for me, either.

Quote for the Day

"Without true, deep contemplative aspirations, without a total love for God and an uncompromising thirst for his truth, religion tends in the end to become and opiate.

-- Thomas Merton
Contemplative Prayer

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Waste or Sacrifice

Sen. John McCain has come under attack for speaking the truth by saying that soldiers' lives have been [and are continuing to be] wasted in Iraq. Earlier Barak Obama said the same thing and was also attacked. McCain has taken the politically expedient way out by saying that he should have said "sacrificed" rather than "wasted."

Let us allow McCain's verbal acrobatics. His original conclusion still stands. Any sacrifice to a false god is wasted. Lives in this war are being sacrificed to the god of the arrogance and pride of George Bush and company.

True followers of the Prince of Peace know further that Mars is a false god.

Americans Have Lost Their Country

Bruce Prescott at Mainstream Baptist found an interesting article by Paul Craig Roberts entitled Americans Have Lost Their Country. For background on the author of the article see Prescott's blog entry.

The very values the Bush administration claims they are trying to save are the ones they are sacrificing for the effort.

Quote for the Day

"Sin grows with doing good . . .
Servant of God has chance of greater sin
And sorrow, than the man who serves a king.
For those who serve the greater cause may make
the cause serve them,
Still doing right"

-- T. S. Eliot
Murder in the Cathedral

Friday, March 02, 2007

Quote for the Day

". . . true love is humble."
-- Gabriel Marcel
Mystery of Being II. Faith and Reality

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Only in America

EthicsDaily.com has an excellent article about Barak Obama: Only in America . It's worth reading.

A Faithful Response to the War

EthicsDaily.com has an excellent article entitled A Faithful Response to the War. It is well worth reading.

Scripture Passage for the Day

True justice is the harvest reaped by peacemakers from seeds sown in a spirit of peace.
--James 3:18

And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
--James 3:18

Da peopo dat stay cool head an stop all da trouble da odda guys making, wat dey goin get from all dat? Cuz a dem, bumbye da odda guys goin do da right kine stuff dat God like. Da peopo dat stay cool head an stop all da trouble, dey jalike da farma guy. First, dafarma guy plant da seeds, den bumbye, he goin get food from da plants.
--From James 3:18
Da Jesus Book (Hawaii Pidgin New

Quote for the Day

"The ethic of discipleship is not guided by the goals it seeks to reach, but by the Lord it seeks to reflect."

-- John H. Yoder
The Original Revolution