Monday, July 31, 2017

Frightening News

"Taking seriously the message of Jesus can be frightening and foreboding, because in my honest moment I know that on my own I cannot live the way of love that Jesus taught and lived. When I look at the immediate consequences of his life, I realize that the way of love is asking too much, and I am simply not up to living that way.


Then, like a fresh burst of wind, the realization breaks in upon me: I am not asked to do this on my own! I am asked to follow Jesus, and that means not only to do and be what Jesus calls me to do and be, but also to accept the power and presence of God to make me more than I am and enable me to live as a beloved child of God."





Some people will not do that which causes them fear and unease, seeking comfort and stability. Some will run away, fast and far, or cower in a dark corner. Some run straight to that which is frightful and mysterious to feel their heart surge. Some will heroically accept the fear and step forward anyway. Love itself is frightening - loving one's enemies is a terror.



(photography by tiwago)

Friday, July 28, 2017

It Is Not Quite Describable


It's the most insignificant seed that grows,
To become a place where birds can perch.

It is a microbe,
That grows,
That spreads,
That makes bread,
That makes wine.

It is a boy who finds pirate booty,
And sells all of his toys to claim it.

It is a pearl merchant who sold his whole inventory,
To buy a magically glorious black pearl.

It is the net of an ocean-going trawler,
That catches both good fish and bad -
But only the good are put in the hold,
The rest all go to the trailing sharks.
So it will be in the end of days,
When the angels sort us all out,
And some will be thrown away.


Do you understand?

It is a great writer who creates visions,
Of treasures both old and brand new.


Tiwago
Matthew 13:31-33 and 44-52.



(photography by tiwago)






Thursday, July 27, 2017

1 Kings 3:5-12 On Leadership and Governance


God: "If you could have one thing in the world, what would you want?"

King Solomon: "I don't know yet how to be a king. I'm Your servant, but I also serve a great nation. I would have wisdom, understanding, and discernment so that I can lead Your people better."

God: "You made the perfect choice! You did not ask for your own health, for more money, or for more and more power - you asked for a gift for the public good. So, I will make it so."

Never was there such a leader, nor will there be again.

(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Because Men "Were" Jerks


How much do you want to be 
My goatherd and shepherd?
I want your youngest daughter!
Because men were jerks back then.
The oldest daughter had spooky eyes,
But the young one was a looker!
Because men were jerks back then.
Sure, said the girl's father - for seven years!
Because men were jerks back then.
After seven years came the wedding night.
Only after a night of passion and exploration,
He discovered he'd slept with the wrong one!
Because men were jerks back then.
The father secretly had swapped them,
To unload the unmarketable old-maid !
Because men were jerks back then.
Uncle, I didn't work my ass off for her!
You cheated me out of my payment!
I'll tell you what I'll do, just for you,
I have a two-for-one sale going on;
As soon as your honeymoon is over,
You can then take them both!
Because men were jerks back then.
For the simple payment terms of 
Seven more years of herding!
Because men were jerks back then.
You have a deal, the young man said!
Because men were jerks back then.


Tiwago
Genesis 29:15-28



(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I'm Losing Hope In Humanity...

"There can be a tendency to lose hope when we look at the earth and consider all the ways in which humanity has strayed from God's call to stewardship. And yet..."


"And yet God has never lost hope. God has never given up on us. God's covenant with his" (her, their) "people has always been one of new life, new creation, a new heaven, a new earth. That covenant has never been cast aside. God is here, bringing about God's kingdom on earth. We have only to join in.

When we see ourselves as part of what God is doing in the world and work to participate with God in the healing of the world, we find that our hope is healed as well."

Carla Barnhill
The Green Bible Devotional


(photography by tiwago)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Of Beans and Weeds



Jesus tried again:

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted soybeans. Late one night, a corporation that wanted to snatch up the family farm planted thistle seeds to sabotage the crop. The beans grew and started to set forth green fuzzy pods, but the weeds grew as well and purple blooms were forming. 

The farmer's hired-hands expressed their concern to him: 'You planted clean seeds; so where did all these thistles come from?'

'The seeds came from our competitor,' he replied.

'Do you want us to go and pull out all the weeds?'

'No,' answered the farmer, 'their roots are too tangled together. If we yank out the weeds, the soy plants will come out with them and we'll lose the whole crop! Wait until the weeds grow fluffy seed-heads, cut them off above the beans before the seeds are ready to disperse, and then burn them. This will let the sun shine on the beans. Then go back and harvest the beans when they are ready, and put them in the grain-bin.'"

The crowds went home. Were they confused, or did they think they understood the story? But his students wisely admitted that they needed some clarification.

"I am the farmer. The field is the world. The soy seeds are the Children of God. The weed seeds are the children of the devil. Harvest-time is the End-time. Those who harvest are the Angels. As weeds are destroyed before they can reproduce, so it will be in the end. As the leaves of the beans shine in the sun, so will the righteous shine."

Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43)


(photography by tiwago)




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Letter to Rome


Dear sisters and my brothers, we are a people in great debt! Not to our muscles, bones, or minds. Not to nations, politicians, or corporations. We owe our true lives to the Spirit, if we first put aside our worries for, and worship of, the things held dear by our reptile brains. All who do this are Children of God!

The Gift of the Spirit was not the continuation of our slavery to our fears and our lusts - the Gift was our adoption! When I cry "Mommy! Daddy!", the Spirit of God bears witness to my adoption as God's Child. As the Child of God, I am an heir to Their Kingdom, which means, I inherit jointly with Christ! We all do. We suffer in common with him, and we will be glorified with him as well.

We are suffering greatly in this day and age where wealth makes might and might makes right. But my own personal temporary suffering here will be overwhelmed by coming glory. The Earth, the land, all of nature, waits with eager anticipation the revelation of the Children - for Creation has become subjugated to the whims of those who worship fleeting fortune and fame. The climate can not rectify itself. The planet can not heal itself. Earth will only be freed from its bondage to decay and despoilment by the actions of the Children.

We all hear Creation's groaning, but most of us ignore it. But let it be the groans of labor rather than the moans of hopelessness. We too groan as ones waiting to give birth, waiting to be reborn. We have been saved by hope. We don't hope for more of what we already have. We hope for a future that we can not see in the present darkness. We pray for the patience to abide until hope blooms.

Paul
(from Romans 8:12-25)


(photography by tiwago) 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Out Of 10

A six month performance evaluation.


Exodus 20:1-17

1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must have no other gods before me.
2. Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way.
4. Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you.
6. Do not kill.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
10. Do not desire your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to grab your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, ass, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

From what I know of the current President, I would give him a 2.5 out of 10 on the OT scale:
1. His greatest love seems to be for himself.
2. He seems to worship money, power, extravagance, status, etc.
3. During the campaign, he seemed to call upon the Lord's name and testified inauthentically.
4. I have not observed any indication that he has become a regular church-goer, but there are other ways of keeping Sabbath (like golfing). I have not seen a reduction of combative tweets on Sundays however.
5. I do not know his relationship with his parents. He considers himself a self-made man in spite of their assistance.
6. Since he is not in prison, I will give him this one.
7. Next!
8. This is yet to be determined by numerous outstanding court cases.
9. Based upon frequent reversals during and after the campaign, I can only assume that some of the alternative truths are his.
10. Enough said...

But what if we put a Jesus-spin on it? Since he has so much support from "religious" people, surely he is Christlike?

Matthew 5:21-48

OT6. Insults in anger are murder! (5:21-26)
OT7. Looking at a person in lust is adultery! (5:27-30)
OT7. Divorce is adultery! (5:31-32)
OT9. Let your word be Yes for Yes or No for No! (5:33-37)

I therefor give him a 1.5 out of 10 on the OT/NT scale.

Dear Mr. President: may the Spirit fill you and change you so that your score rises.



Dom

 "Dom":

  • A monk;
  • A man of rank;
  • A master in a bdsm relationship.





"The call to have dominion over creation is not a call for domination. It is a call to see God in the world around us and to know that we alone have been chosen to care for what God made. We are God's partners in caring for creation. And we will be God's partners in renewing creation as God brings about the new heaven and the new earth." 

Carla Barnhill; The Green Bible Devotional



(photography by tiwago)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sacred Places

"Surely the Lord is in this place - and I did not know it!"


Jacob had a dream. In the Book of Genesis, 28:10-19a, we read of his vision of a stairway to Heaven, with God's Messengers coming and going to and from the Earth. Then we hear God tell him that he will be given a homeland, and that his blood will become a great people, spread across the globe. And that is where many of us tune out...

God is not promising us global dominion, empire, or a hive-mind - God tells Jacob (and therefor us) that ALL the families of the Earth are to be blessed by (in, through) us. Not condemned by us. Not subjugated by us. Not oppressed by us. BLESSED BY US! If we expand this to Merriam-Webster's definition of "blessed", then all the families of the world are to be: honored by us; derive pleasure from us; share contentment with us; and receive good fortune through us. Do other people consider me a blessing in their lives? Does the community feel blessed by my church? Do the nations around the globe feel blessed by my country?

Jacob's strong reaction, is to neither the vision nor the message directly, but to the normal, everyday, place where it occurred. "God is in THIS place, and I didn't even notice!" God is omnipresent, in all places at once. Every place we go is sacred space - a place of revelation. In the NIV and other translations, Jacob says: "How AWESOME is this place!"

To Jacob, this place was discovered to be holy because of the covenant he received: his family would be blessed so that it would be in a position to bless everyone else. To Jacob, this blessing is tied to the land and environment.

When I go for a hike, do I keep my eyes open for burning bushes? When I first visit someplace new, do I wonder at how awesome it is? Do I erect mental monuments to remember the holiness of each moment of communion with God? Jacob named the place where he met God "Beth-El", the House of God. Do I treat every space I occupy as God's House, or as my house?


(photography by tiwago)


Friday, July 14, 2017

Seeds


Jesus had to get out of the house, so he went down by the seaside for some peace and a cool breeze. But the beach was overflowing with women and with men and with children. They all were there with minds and hearts full of hope and expectations. So he stepped out into a boat, pulled away from the shore, and from there spoke to the crowd. And he told them many strange and confusing stories. Such as:

"A woman went out into her garden behind her house. She started broadcasting kernels of sweetcorn. Some of the kernels landed on the sidewalk; and the squirrels went crazy. Others fell into cracks between the field-stones. The stalks shot up quickly, but they could not long survive because their roots were too shallow to feed the plants or to anchor them in the wind. Yet more seed fell in the patch of thistles by the trash-cans. The thistles grew faster than the corn and crowded the stalks out, depriving them of light and nutrients. But some of the seed fell into the plot of prepared, rich, black, loam. In the late summer, there were enough ears of delicious sweet-corn for everyone in the neighborhood to eat; drenched in butter, and dusted with salt. Let anyone with ears listen!"

The pun went over everybody's heads, so he helped them out.

"The kernels are the germ of God's Kingdom. Some who hear of it, don't get it, and the devil takes it away before it can sink in. Some who receive it are on rocky ground - they are overly zealous at first, but their spiritual roots are so shallow that they can't sustain their passion over time. When trouble comes, they just shrivel up. Some who accept it are so crowded-out by the world's weeds (fears, addictions, and lust for money) that they can produce only a small sorry crop. But some people are humus and understand the concept of Kingdom, They let it grow within them - the crop is so great that there is plenty to share, and everyone is invited to the party!"

(from Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Words Falling Down


Like rain, which does not return to the clouds until it has watered the earth; 
Water which causes seeds to sprout and grow strong; 
Strong plants which give seeds to be eaten and seeds to be planted...
Like rain, My words shall not return to Me.

You shall joyfully go out into the world.
You will peacefully be brought back home.
The music of the mountains shall be with you.
The trees of the forest will dance with you.

Instead of thistles, you'll leave redwoods behind -
Instead of stickers, you'll plant sweet smelling flowers;
And the Eden you plant and tend throughout your days,
Shall be an enduring memorial of the Lord's love.

 Tiwago
(from Isaiah 55:10-13)


(photography by tiwago)

Monday, July 10, 2017

War Within


The pregnancy was a challenge in both its inception and its implementation - fetal nations battling inside her. Then the birth, both a tribulation and a test of wills. Twins in name alone - it was as though a cuckoo bird had laid its egg in the nest of another. Childhood was merely a progressing escalation of the natal war on an ever expanding battlefield. With time, their parents were forced to take sides. Even the God seemed to favor one above the other.

One day, Coyote was crouched over the mesquite fire, stirring a pot of chili. A small child, he had spent more time with his mother than his father, and had learned the arts of the hearth and home. The pot bubbled, and the pungent aroma of the chilis followed the wisps of wind. Just then, following the enticing scent-trail, Red Dog approached his little brother.

Red Dog was a rugged outdoorsman, like his father whom he idolized. He had been out all night hunting, but returned to the tents empty-handed. Red Dog barked: "Runt! I'm starving to death! Give me a bowl of your chili."

Coyote grinned as he turned from the cooking-fire. "It'll cost you," he winked. "Admit that I'm the boss." Red Dog laughed as his stomach growled: "Sure, why not? What good is it if I die of hunger? Let me have a taste."

Coyote pulled back the bowl that he had been in the process of serving. "Pinkie-swear first that you'll do whatever I want!" Without ever sampling the food, driven by an overwhelming hunger, Red Dog would have done whatever it took to satisfy his craving and fill his empty stomach. The chili was delicious, and Red Dog was satisfied. For a while...



These two brothers fight within me all the time. My present desires seem so much more pressing than my future needs.  Everywhere I look, I see the front-lines of the conflict. Short-term "winners" are idolized by society. Urban-planners design plans for the future that are ignored. Red Dog instantly lusts after whatever it is that Coyote says all Dogs deserve; Coyote seeks election; Red Dog thinks with organs other than the brain. 

There is a war of wills here: an estranged father; a manipulative mother; two odd children; and the mysterious will of God. There is a morality-play being enacted here, and deep inside I too want to take sides. But how can I when all my choices seem to be so bad? Maybe I should just observe and learn? People have always been, and will always be, "human" - animal and spirit at once. There is a war of wills here. 




Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Sermon For This Sunday

"I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling 'bout half-past dead. 
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
'Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?'
He just grinned and shook my hand, 'No" was all he said.

Take a load off fanny, take a load for free.
Take a load off Fanny, and put the load right on me."

Robbie Robertson




People nowadays,
want us all to march
together in formation,
but the children ask us
to come and play with them -
but we are too "grown-up".
Have we forgotten how?

Jesus gives us a beat,
but we do not dance
with the Lord of the Dance.
David got down and funky
in the streets of the City,
but Michal was ashamed.
Jesus sings the blues for us,
but we're too dignified
to be seen weeping with him.
Jesus throws us parties -
and yet we do not go.
Jesus has a wedding feast -
but we aren't down with it.

John abstained from parties -
John was clearly crazy!
Jesus went to parties -
Jesus was clearly a lush!
But, hiding behind words,
wisdom always reveals itself,
if we but be observant.

Jesus thanked his Father:
"You reveal Truths to children
that grown-ups call Mysteries.
Let the little ones come to me
for theirs is Your Kingdom
that they might show it to us.
All Your things are mine Daddy:
No one knows You like I do;
No one knows me like You do.
As You revealed me, so too
shall my being reveal You."

We each received a party invitation:
"Come to my party.
I know you are bone weary.
You've carried that load 
by yourself for too long.
I have a bed for you -
Lay your head upon my shoulder;
Come and take a load off!
Come and be happy.

I have the perfect job for you;
It's easy, if you try.
I will be your workmate,
I will be right there beside you -
together, work is made lighter.
It will bring you fulfillment and joy.


Tiwago


From Matthew 11:16-19&25-30




(photography by tiwago)






Friday, July 7, 2017

Milkweed Psalm


By breeze, by breath,
By design, by happenstance, 
A germ of life
Clung beneath a piece
Of insubstantial fluff, and
Sailed upon the wind
To light here, just here,
Where I stand and wonder.

The golden light
Of early morning
Plays upon the chandelier 
Of last night's dewdrops,
As scattered daisies
Dance to the sighing
Of the grasses.

Abba, You
Brought me here,
In time and space,
To see
Leaves with leathery faces
And  soft downy bottoms;
New leaves raised up,
Clasped together as if
In prayer -
Guarding your treasures:
Buds, not yet pink;
White sticky milk;
Angular bugs orange and black;
Long-horned beetles red and black;
And dearest yet - royal eggs.

From this weed
Unwanted by farmers,
From this plant
With poisonous blood,
From this green and growing hope,
Miracles and signs will transpire,
Metamorphoses and transfigurations,
As a bag of soft and toxic flesh
Strives towards perfection,
To hang, wrapped in a shroud,

Until a Monarch ascends. 

Tiwago



(photography by tiwago)





Thursday, July 6, 2017

I Don't Get Me!


I do not "get" it.

I honestly do not understand it - I do not clearly understand myself. Why do I do the stupid things that I do? Why don't I do all the awesome stuff I want to do?

I really want to do good (to do all the good I can, whenever I can, wherever I can), but I don't seem to be able to. All these horrible things that I can see in other people, these things that I rightly and self-righteously judge to be wrong, these are the things I turn around and hypocritically do myself? I just hate it when that happens! Don't you?

I'm a crook: a liar; a cheat; a killer; an abuser; an idolater; a world-class sinner. The dark-side that lies within me may shape what I do or do not do, but it is not who I am. It does not define me as a Child of Light. 

True goodness is not something hiding in a forgotten recess of my mind that I can drag up, or something lost that I can pull out from a dark corner of my soul. I can desire to be good all I want, try really really hard to be goody-goody, but I can not force it to happen by simply following rules, or reading self-help books, or by trying to do everything the Bible says. In my humanity, I don't do the good stuff that I think I should be doing or even that I want to be doing; I do the things that I damn-well know are evil - the horrible things that I don't want to be doing! Sometimes, it seems like I can't help myself. I pity myself. 

I forget to forgive myself - it is not I that do this bad crap, it is the Bad Dude hiding within me that does it. It is a rule-of-thumb that I have seen, the harder I try to make myself be a good person, the worse of a person I am! Blindly following the rules does not help me nearly as much as it did when I was a child.

We love Law and Order: God's Law; the laws of nature; the laws of man. But, all these laws are at war with each other within my organs - my pituitary gland has a running-battle with my frontal lobe. I am a POW of my own involuntary hormones. You should pity me as much I pity myself, for I am just a helpless victim here. Who can possibly save me from this hell?



Paul is of course being provocatively sarcastic and hyperbolically snarky in his letter to the house-churches in Rome (Rom. 7:15-25a). "If only there was someone we could turn to for help when we realize can't we can't do it by ourselves..."  

Oh, wait, there is!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Jeremiah 12:4

How much longer must the land mourn?

How long before all the plants are dead?

Because of our evil ways, wildlife is crowded out.

Some say it is "natural", and some say that it is the "Will of God".





(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

God Is Good - Psalm 145


Full of grace
Full of mercy
You are slow
To become angry
To give up on love
You are good
All the time

All the time
You are good
To all people
To all creation
Life is a blessing from You
Every kedoshim blesses You

They speak across the planet
The glories of Your Creation
Your power to make known
The workings of Your Kingdom
Your everlasting garden home
Yours is the universal dominion
From First Day unto Last Day

Full of faith
From Your mouth
Full of grace
From Your hands
You hold my hand
Keeping me standing
Lifting from the dust

Tiwago



(photography by tiwago)


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Up From the Deep

We are drawn to water,
but you can't make us drink...


Water below, above, all around.
A breath of wind upon the water;
The warm exhalations of volcanos;
The ice and rock messengers from the cosmos;
The tectonic upliftings;
The light -
Primordial soup stewing

Good, it was good.

From the deep,
From the water,
We arose...
But, it is still in us!
But, it is still of us!
It still calls us back -
Walking and talking cucumbers.

Good, it is good!

Water of Life.
Water of Hope.
Living Water.
Water all around.

Tiwago





(photography by tiwago)

Christ the King Sunday

The last Sunday of the Church's year. The Sunday before Advent. As a convert (2003), I had always assumed that Christ the King Su...