Friday, September 28, 2012

Battlefield Surgery

John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”

Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.

“On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.

“If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
 “Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.”

(Mark 9:38-50; The Message)

1. How does this relate to my understanding of other faiths? Other denominations? Cliques in church?
2. What is the difference between doing good as a requirement and doing good as a sign?
3. In what ways do I give water to others?
4. How does organized religion sometimes get in the way of simple trust?
5. The Church is the Body of Christ. By going to extremes or hiding our heads in the sand in order to keep the Body whole, do we make the Body unhealthy? 
6. What is Mark saying has to be done to preserve peace?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pray, pray, pray. Sing, sing, sing!

Are any of you hurt, sick, abused or beaten down? Pray, pray, pray.
Are any of you sound, healthy, beloved and raised up? Sing, sing, sing!
Is anyone in your congregation in need of you? Let those mature in faith wrap them in prayer blankets, and anoint them in precious perfume in Jesus' name.
The prayers of the faithful will save others! God will lift them out of the pit. The prayers of the faithful forgive.
If you are to be a Church:
     confess your sins to each other;
     pray, pray, pray for each other;
     heal each other, heal together.
Like us, Elijah was "just" flesh and blood.
     But when he prayed feverishly for drought, no rain fell on the entire world for 42 months!
     And when he prayed again, it rained and rained and rained and the world bore her fruit!
Sisters and brothers, if any of His sheep stray from the Word and the Way - bring them back as a good shepherd should.
     By doing so, you save them from death and The Death.
     By doing so, your own multitudinous sins'll feel lighter.
(James 5:13-20 retold)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Psalmic #Poetry - The 124th; If it weren't for God...:

If it weren't for God...
     let the country now say:

If it weren't for God
     when we've been attacked
     we'd have been destroyed
     while their hate burned us.

If it weren't for God
     nothing would've survived
     swimming with the fishes
     while the waters raged on.

But since it's for God
     His lambs are not wolf-prey
     His doves are not caged up
     free to leap and free to fly.

His Name, His Word, His Spirit.

Our all-constant Rock of Succor.

The Creator of both the Sacred
     and the Secular.

 Retold by Tiwago)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grow Up and Start Acting Like a Child!

Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.

They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”

The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”

He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”

(Mark 9:30-37; The Message)
1. When I mentor someone, do I give them my full attention?
2. Before I do something, do I ask myself if I would be too embarrassed to answer someone if they asked me what I was doing?
3. Do I let things fester, or do I have a family meeting to clear the air?
4. How do I try to be first in my life, my job, my church?
5. Is Jesus telling us to welcome children, to be like children, or both?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

So, You Think You're So Smart?

Who among this congregation think they are wise and understanding? Then show by your righteous living that your acts are done with the gentleness that comes from wisdom. But if you're envious or selfishly ambitious, stop boasting and lying to the rest of us! Such so-called wisdom isn't heaven-sent, but muck-born. It is not of the Spirit, but of the groin or the belly.
Listen to me! Where there is envy and greed, there is discord and all kinds of nastiness.
Holy wisdom
     is above all pure,
     then peace-making,
     and kind and gentle,
     willing to sacrifice self,
     overflowing with mercy,
     with abundant good fruits.
Sacred wisdom
     is devoid or favoritism,
     and self-blind judgment.
Those who sow shalom, will harvest a rich agape harvest of peace. Where do all these conflicts, schisms and fragmentation in this congregation come from? From God? Don't they arise from the cravings that are waring within you? Don't they come when your cravings and someone-else's cravings conflict? You want something you don't have - so you kill. You are envious - so you fight. You want what you never bothered to ask for and are too impatient to wait for - so you steal. You ask in vain because you ask in greed with selfish motives - so you hoard what you already have.
Surrender your selfish cravings to God! Resist your reptile-brain and the inner-devils whispering in your ear!
Draw near to Him - He will draw near to you.
(Retelling of James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Proverbial #Poetry - Two Strong People Make a Better Team:

It's hard to find a good mate now-a-days.
One's spouse is their greatest treasure.
Their hearts trust in each other's heart.
Together they will prosper as a team.
They do each other good every day.
They never cause harm to each other.
A parent always nurtures the family.
Earning money and buying necessities.
Getting the kids off to school at dawn.
Planning for an uncertain far off future.
Stewarding wisely for future generations.
Partners put on their big-kid pants.
Strong work strengthens them for more.
They do not under-value themselves.
They provide light and guidance.
They share the household chores.
They also feed and care for the poor.
They seek out the needy and broken.
They do not fear trials and tempests.
The family is strong, brave and able.
They dress appropriately but with style.
They are respected and trusted leaders.
They deal fairly with others in honor.
She's finely attired with confident dignity.
He laughs in anticipation of tomorrow. 
They only speak out in premeditation.
Their every word teaches of kindness.
They serve each other and the children.
They work in love and waste not time.
The children are raised in a happy home.
Love is shown and they brag on each other.
They build up each other in grace and truth.
Charm lies!
Beauty's vain!
But a Godly lover is worthy of praise.
Do not deprive each other.
Let each other thrive.
Be proud in each other.
You're each other's trophy spouse!
(Proverbs 31:10-31 as retold by Tiwago)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This is a Good Gig Jesus, Don't Blow It!

Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus and The Twelve Dudes, the Roadies and their fans were going from one community to the next. Jesus asked the Dudes: "Who do they say I am?"
They all spoke at once: "a bird", "a plane", " a frog"...
Drilling down even further, he asked: "Who do you say I am?"
Lead guitar Peter spoke first: "The Anointed One of God!" (Peter was particularly present for a change!)
Jesus: "Don't let others hear you say that! The Son of Man will be tortured, rejected by his religion, and killed - but I will return in three days."
Peter pulled him aside: "Man, what are you doing? You'll blow it; no one wants to go on a bummer trip like that!"
Jesus pulled Peter back into the center: "Back off Satan! Your mind has strayed from the sacred and is stuck in the secular."
He looked out into the crowd: "If you are to follow me, then reject your selfishness. If you are to live with me, grab a cross and die with me! If you spend your entire life trying to stay alive, then you are already dead. But those who are willing to lose their lives (for the sake of their fellows, or because of me, or in service of God sharing the Good News) will never die.
Ask yourselves: what's the profit margin if you own the whole world, but then just die?
Those who are ashamed of my subversiveness and try to weaken my teachings will find that I am ashamed of them when they stand before my Father and His host of angels!"
(Retelling of Mark 8:27-38)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Spiritual Discipline of Science

Psalm 19

God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
   Madame Day holds classes every morning,
      Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren't heard,
      their voices aren't recorded,
   But their silence fills the earth:
      unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome
      for the sun—a superdome!
   The morning sun's a new husband
      leaping from his honeymoon bed,
   The daybreaking sun an athlete
      racing to the tape.

 That's how God's Word vaults across the skies
      from sunrise to sunset,
   Melting ice, scorching deserts,
      warming hearts to faith.

 The revelation of God is whole
      and pulls our lives together.
   The signposts of God are clear
      and point out the right road.
   The life-maps of God are right,
      showing the way to joy.
   The directions of God are plain
      and easy on the eyes.
   God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
      with a lifetime guarantee.
   The decisions of God are accurate
      down to the nth degree.

 God's Word is better than a diamond,
      better than a diamond set between emeralds.
   You'll like it better than strawberries in spring,
      better than red, ripe strawberries.

 There's more: God's Word warns us of danger
      and directs us to hidden treasure.
   Otherwise how will we find our way?
      Or know when we play the fool?
   Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
      Keep me from stupid sins,
      from thinking I can take over your work;
   Then I can start this day sun-washed,
      scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
   These are the words in my mouth;
      these are what I chew on and pray.
   Accept them when I place them
      on the morning altar,
   O God, my Altar-Rock,
      God, Priest-of-My-Altar.
(The Message)
1. Do I listen for the words of nature and the cosmos?
2. How does scientific reason strengthen my understanding, wisdom and discernment?
3. What do diamonds and strawberries represent to me?
4. How many of us know when we're being foolish?
5. Do I want to do God's work "with Him" or "for Him"?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Not Just Anyone Can Teach!

Not many of us should teach religion. Those who do beware - you will be judged by a higher standard than the rest of us!
We all say and do the wrong thing. Those who don't are being perfected by God by ongoing sanctifying grace. A small amount of grace is like a horse's bit, a ship's rudder, or judo. But it also works the other way...
The human tongue is a small little muscle, yet it brags of great adventures! The most uncontrollable wildfire starts with just a tiny spark. Hell-fire has lit our tongues, and with it we incinerate ourselves and all of creation. We have domesticated many wild beasts, but have never been able to tame our own tongues! The tongue is a poisonous serpent whispering about forbidden fruit. Like a snake, we speak with a divided tongue - blessing God and damning those made in His Holy Image. From the same mouth flow both  blessings and curses...
It should not be like this!
Can both fresh living water and undrinkable stagnant water flow from the same spring? Can a tree produce naturally two different kinds of fruit?
(Retelling of James 3:1-12)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Proverbial #Poetry - Everyone is Yelling, But No One is Listening:

Sophia tries to occupy the street.
She's protesting in public spaces.
She seeks out the mass media.
She tweets and blogs and posts:
"How much longer, ignorant ones,
Will you revel in your ignorance?
How much longer, you mighty ones,
Will you insult the poor and weak?
How much longer, you foolish ones,
Will you mock and attack learning?
Listen as I reject all your rejections!
I WILL pour out my wisdom on you!
I'll speak Truth to ALL truthless ones!
I have called and called out to you,
But you have ignored and scorned.
I have reached out for fellowship,
But you smacked my hand away.
Since you have rejected wisdom,
Since you squashed all dissent,
I will laugh and ridicule your mores,
I will mock your fear as you panic!
For panic'll hit you like a derecho,
And when your harvest lies rotten,
And when you fear so for the future,
Then you will at last call upon me,
But you'll have already silenced me!
Then you will search all over for me,
But you will not be able to find me!
Because you hated all knowledge,
And chose not the Word and Way,
And would have none of the Spirit,
And despised truth and discipline,
Therefor, you'll eat your rotten crop,
And will be left to your own devises;
For prideful ignorance kills all fools,
For the complacent fool can't adapt,
Those who embrace discernment
Will live with each other in shalom,
And they'll face the world fearlessly.
(Proverb 1:20-33 as retold by Tiwago)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Day an Immigrant Taught the Lord a Lesson:

Cecil Aldin

From there Jesus set out for the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house there where he didn't think he would be found, but he couldn't escape notice. He was barely inside when a woman who had a disturbed daughter heard where he was. She came and knelt at his feet, begging for help. The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. She asked him to cure her daughter.

He said, "Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there's any left over, the dogs get it."
She said, "Of course, Master. But don't dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?"

Jesus was impressed. "You're right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone." She went home and found her daughter relaxed on the bed, the torment gone for good.

Then he left the region of Tyre, went through Sidon back to Galilee Lake and over to the district of the Ten Towns. Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man's ears and some spit on the man's tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, "Ephphatha!—Open up!" And it happened. The man's hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.

Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. "He's done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless."

(Mark 7:24-37; The Message)

1. Jesus tries to fly under the radar.
2. He makes that kind of impossible!
3. An immigrant begs for her daughter.
4. Jesus is all short and snarky.
5. The woman schools him good.
6. Jesus loves being schooled!
7. Shazam! Girl is all better now.
8. Jesus tries to fly under the radar.
9. A sick man is brought to him.
10. He can't hear or speak well.
11. Jesus wants a private spot.
12. Gives the man a wet-willy.
13. Loogies on the man's tongue.
14. Prays and breathes - pneuma.
15. Open sesame!
16. "You don't have to shout"!
17. The man heard and spoke.
18. Jesus said don't speak.
19. More he said 'don't', more they heard 'do'.
20. Radars pinging everywhere!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Feed My Starving Sheep

Peter's Red-Letter Day:

When Jesus had finished feeding the apostles, he said to his friend Simon Peter: "Do you love me?"

"Of course!" Peter said.

"Feed my little lambs."

"Do you love me Pete?"

"You already know that I do!"

"Tend my sheep."

"Simon son of John, do you love me?"

"You're omniscient, why do you keep asking me?"

"Feed my sheep."

(Retelling of John 21:15-17)

Hunger has many causes: war; drought; natural disasters; oppression; etc. But it seems to me that the primary cause is greed.  Church World Service fights to give women the tools to first save, then to support, their families. Please stand with me and support this wonderful mission. To learn what you can do, please read this. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stop Using Us!

Proverbs 22:22-23: 
Don't walk on the poor just because they're poor, 
   and don't use your position to crush the weak,
Because God will come to their defense; 
   the life you took, he'll take from you and give back to them.
                                                                   (The Message)  

Dear Big People:  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Psalmic #Poetry - The 125th:

God-trusters are like
the mightiest of mountains -
ever they abide.
Peaks protect the vales -
So God surrounds His people
now and evermore.
Dark shades of evil
Shall not blot out the sun's light -
Nor make us shadows.
God, reward all those
Who do good and have pure hearts -
Those who stand up tall.
Take away all those
Who do evil with foul hearts -
Those who slink about.
Peace be upon you.
God's Peace for all God's people.
Peace be upon us.
(Retold by Tiwago)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Religion can't save you!

Brothers and Sisters: How can you possibly think that you can treat people unequally, and believe in Jesus at the same time? If a woman comes into your church dressed to the nines at the same time as a dirty homeless man, which one do you give the most attention to? The one who can financially "benefit" your church the most? Do you avoid the other because they might want something? How dare you make yourself their Judge! Please listen my friends: God blessed the poor to be rich in Spirit; He blessed the weak to inherit the Kingdom. God loves the poor and the insignificant!
But you, you try to shame the poor! Why? Isn't it the rich who take advantage of you and get ever richer?
God's simple Law is this: "Love the other as the self." When you treat some better than others, you sin! You don't get to follow only the rules that are easy for you. You can't say: "I didn't kill or murder a single person today, so it's OK if I treat someone like dirt."
Faith is worthless if it doesn't lead to acts of love! Religion can't save you!
If you see someone wearing rags and who doesn't always eat, and say to them: "I'll pray for you", but leave them cold and hungry, what the hell good does that do them? Can they feed their children on your platitudes? Faith without works is death. Religion without mercy is death. God without Godliness is death!
(Retelling of James 2:1-10 and 14-17)

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The Church Lawyers and Leaders came down from the Mother Church for a surprise visit upon the Pastor's ministry. Some of us who were there later conjectured that they came hoping to find something wrong. The Pastor, the elders, and some of the mothers were taking care of the children and laying out the pot-luck on long table on the back lawn. The rest tromped over on a break from their nearby Habitat project. The entire neighborhood was there to join the picnic, like always. They all sat down to eat, and laugh, and tease - just like any family. Suddenly, the Mother Churchers noticed that some of the people were sharing an awesome home-brew one of them had made.
"Why doesn't your congregation follow the doctrines of the Church? Why do they imbibe of fermented hops?" (Hardcore Churchers don't talk like you and I sometimes...)
The Pastor answered. "Isaiah spoke about such religious hypocrisy when he spoke God's words to us: 'My Church honors me with their pure mouths, but all the time their hearts and minds are closed to Me. They do worship, and act like they're a business venture.'"
Then the Pastor spoke to those spread out across the lawn watching the confrontation: "Hear me friends. There is not one thing external to you that can defile you, it is the crap that comes out of you that defiles! It is from what lies rotten inside each of us that evil is born. Rape. Theft. Murder. Cheating. Greed. Spite. Lies. Lewdness. Envy. Gossip. Pride. Sin. You can't be defiled by what you eat or drink anymore than you can be defiled by what evil things others do to you. You are only defiled by the evil you do to others. So cheers! Where's the bottle opener..."
(Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, and 21-23 retold)