Thursday, September 28, 2017

Authority


"Who authorized the bee to pollinate the flowers?" ~ Tiwago 

Leaders: 
"By whose authority do you act against us? Who gave you authority to break the law and attack private property and businesses?"

(By which they meant: "We lost money when you led a violent protest against the money-changers!")

The One: 
"There were two families. One family told everyone 'We do not worship your God!', but never-the-less they were good and did good to others. The second family told the world 'We worship The God!', but they were bad and did nothing good for others. Tell me, which of these families faithfully did the will of God?" 

Matthew 21:23-31


(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

My Soul Is Buggy


Inside me, there is a garden -
It is heavy on the ornamentals,
The ephemeral, annual variety.

There are also a few showy 
Pumpkins and fancy gourds, 
And even healthy vegetables.

There's no Fruit at all, unless
You consider the tomatoes -
Since I'm from Illinois, I do.

Where there are no flowers;
Where vegetables and fruit
Will not, or cannot, grow;
Where there is bad soil;
Where there is no light;
Where there is no water...

Weeds flourish in my messy garden.

Grasshoppers with gnashing jaws!
Devilish Horn Worms in the dark!
Nasty bugs sapping the sap of life!

But also... There are Butterflies,
Bees, Ladybugs, and fat Spiders;
Blessings of joy and protection!

Abba walks in this Garden...


Tiwago




(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dear Church:


"The Light makes many flowers One." ~ Tiwago 

If then you can still find:
ANY comfort within Christ;
ANY consolation within Love; 
ANY fellowship in the Spirit;
ANY compassion for others -
Then perfect, and complete
My joy and my pride in you.

Be:
Of one intent and purpose together;
Of one desire joined in mutual love;
Of one Body, yoked in the one Spirit.

Do:
Nothing from selfishness;
Nothing from arrogance;
Everything in humility.

Regard others as more important than yourself!
Do not worry about your own fears and needs!
Fight for the oppressed, the powerless, the poor!
Be of one intent and purpose with Christ Jesus!

Though he was of God,
He didn't take advantage 
Of this great advantage:
He emptied himself
Of his divinity;
He became our
Lowly servant;
He was born in
Blood and water;
He was in the flesh
And of the Spirit.

He humbled himself.
He walked his path.
He submitted to us
As we tortured him,
As we executed him;
A criminal against
The State.

From this, God exalted him on high,
And bestowed his name with power.
Before whom, all would bow down:
All in Heaven; all on Earth; all in Hell.
Then every tongue would sing out loud,
That Jesus the Christ is the Lord of all; 
That he is the revelation of the Father.

So my beloved Church, hear me,
You who've always listened to me
To my face, and behind my back -
I can't bring about your salvation for you.
You must work to cultivate it into fruition.
For it is not me working, nor is it you working,
It is God who's at work in you; in full-on labor!

It is God who 
Is remaking you 
Into an instrument.

Tiwago

Philippians 2:1-13




(photography by tiwago)





Friday, September 22, 2017

Justice Among the Laborers


An old man owned an apple-orchard. He hired his children and other relatives to climb the ladders to pick the choice apples from the top of the trees. He paid them well for this dangerous work, and they were quite happy. They did this all day long and enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well done.

Later in the day, he saw that he needed more help to pick the lower safer branches. So he hired friends and neighbors to give a hand. His family was glad because they needed the extra hands if they were going to get done before dark.

After a while, as the sun moved closer to the horizon, it became clear that no one was going to be able to get to the fallen apples on the ground for making cider. So he found some migrants to do this back-breaking work. His family, friends, and neighbors were all pleased to avoid all that stooping and heavy lifting. 

Everyone was happy. Until...

At the end of the day, when the harvest was done, he had the workers line up so that he could pay them. First were his children and other young relatives. He paid each one $20, and they were happy. Then came the friends and neighbors who had worked a shorter amount of time and who had a less dangerous job. He paid each one of them $20, and they were all very happy. But...

His children and relatives saw this, and they became less happy. Finally, immigrant workers came forward. Would you believe it, each one of them also made $20! When the friends and neighbors who had helped out saw this they suddenly became less happy, and when the family learned of it they became seriously unhappy!

Why would someone doing less skilled common grunt work make the same as them? They weren't there originally; they were there just a short time. It wasn't fair!

The old man said to his children and their cousins: "Why are you so upset? Didn't you get what you were promised? What is it to you if these others also make a living wage? What they receive does not lessen what you have - why are you jealous of these others?"

It is said: "The least shall be first, and the greatest shall be last."

Matthew 20:1-16



(photography by tiwago)


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Win/Win


I've had a bad case of the grumpity-grumps lately. Monday, I blogged about Jonah repeatedly saying that he'd be better off dead. Thankfully, that doesn't quite describe my current gloom. If Jonah and Job had a child... that's kind of how I feel. The world is seriously out of my control! Does it matter in the larger scheme of things if I live or if I die?

Paul writes to the congregation in Philippi, Macedonia:

I can't lose! Living is winning - dying is winning. If I am alive on Earth, I can be fruitful on Earth. If I die, I can be closer to God. I can't decide which is better. But, I know that being alive is the more needed state of being right now.

So, that being the case, I will continue this joyful walk to perfection with you all. Walk the walk in a way worthy of the Gospel of God's Love through Jesus. People will see you living together in harmony, sharing the yoke of Christ's mission. The world will see that you are not intimidated by its "survival of the fittest" mentality. They will see their own destruction in all that you build together. 

This is not my doing, nor is it even your doing - it is God's doing! By Their grace and mercy, the Lord has granted you the privileges of heirs: true trust and faith in Christ; and self-sacrificing service.


Philippians 1:21-29



(photography by tiwago)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jonah's Whale of a Tantrum (Warning: "Adult" Language)

When the Renewing God of Ongoing Creation saw that the lost sheep (Nineveh, Rome, Germany, Japan, _______?) had turned from the path of corruption, They rejoiced and changed Their mind - the impending doom I was promised was canceled. This was very upsetting to me, and my anger grew.

"Lord, this is exactly what I was afraid of! I knew You were too merciful and loving to do what needed to be done! You drug me through storms and whale-vomit all the way out here for no good reason! Wrath of God my ass! I don't want to live in a world where people like them are allowed to exist unpunished; kill me right now!"

God asked me: "Is it right that you are so irrationally mad at me?"

That just pissed me off even more - They were totally ignoring my righteous anger! So I went off in a huff. I put up a blanket for some shade, and sat there in the desert watching Sin City; waiting for God to come to Their senses and do the right thing - for I still had faith, even in my despair at Their softness!

The blanket was not big enough, and the damn sun kept moving; heat-stroke was setting in. God "appointed" a bush, and tasked it to give my hot head more shade. Obviously, God was on my side after all, why else would They care for my comfort? I was very happy knowing that God was going to strike the heathens down soon, and slept well that night.

In the morning, God "appointed" a caterpillar (a hungry, HUNGRY caterpillar) to devour MY bush - its branches were soon bare. WTF, God?! The unrelenting sun beat mercilessly down upon my head, and I became faint and distressed. "Please Lord, this migraine is killing me; let me die already!"

But instead, They asked me: "Is it right that you are so irrationally mad at the bush?" Tired of God ignoring my pleas I answered: "It sure the hell is! I have EVERY right to feel the way I feel! I'm mad enough I could die!" (OY! Do I always sound so whiny? And what's with all that "I wish I were dead" crap? I didn't realize I was such a drama Queen.)

Then the Lord my God said: "You are so worried about the death of a bush, of my Creation; aren't the people in the City also my Creation?" I said nothing more.

Jonah 3:10-4:11


(photography by tiwago)


Friday, September 15, 2017

Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors


Jesus told this story about people we all know to teach us about forgiveness:

A bank was getting their affairs in order for an upcoming audit. The Manager met with a man who owed her bank $10,000 on a mortgage and was behind on his payments. She told him that he had to pay off the remainder of his loan right away, or the bank would foreclose, and his family would be evicted. He begged for for his family so passionately that she took pity on them, and got the bank to forgive the debt. Imagine that!

The man went right out, and went to a guy who owed him $100. He grabbed him by the collar: "Give me the money you owe me or I'll break you legs!" The poor man fell down there in the street groveling, begging for more time; but the thug refused and left him in the gutter, a beaten and bloody mess. "You still owe me! I'll be back."

Word got back to the bank Manager. She called the man back to her office: "You a$$hole! I got the bank to forgive your huge debt because you pleaded with me. Why didn't you extend that same mercy to the person who owed you a little money?" So she turned the loan-shark over to the police, and in prison he met a lot of not-so-nice people who owed him money, and even some whom he owed...

This Abba will also do to you, if you do not forgive your sisters and your brothers.

Matthew 18:21-35

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Does God Only Love Those You Love?

Is Paul being unitarian, ecumenical, encouraging inter-faith cooperation, or just trying to get people to quit acting like jerks?


Paul writes:

Interact with those whose beliefs are different than yours; to be hospitable, not to try to beat them into submission! We are ALL different - some people chow down on snack-food, while others will only eat locally produced organic produce. Those who drink beer must not look down on those who abstain, as those who refuse bacon must not hold it against those who love it. We are all a little odd; yet God welcomes all of our quirks into the Fellowship of the One.

Who are you that you think you can pass judgement on those who follow someone or something else than you do? Who died and made you God? Each will be measured by how well they followed their own Way - but at the same time, the Lord-of-All will stand with them.

Some determine that one day is holier than another day, but aren't all days meant to be sacred? We will be judged on how well we keep our own holy days sanctified, not how many we force to worship on the "right" day. Observe a day to give thanks to your Lord, and eat (or not) so as to mark the day as being special to you.

We are not alive to serve ourselves; nor do we die for ourselves. Since we live and die for that which we worship, we then belong to who or what we worship.

So, here is what I believe: Christ was born, died, and lived again to confirm that he is the Lord of both - the quick AND the dead. 

But, why do you judge your sisters and brothers who believe differently? Why do you hate your brothers and sisters of different beliefs? Though we will all be judged differently, we will all be judged together! Our scripture tells us that all will come to honor the Lord (at some point in each person's life or death, or at some point in the history of humanity?) - so we are not then all equally accountable?

Romans 14:1-12


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Confession of a Covenant-Breaker


I have reserved myself for myself and those who are mine.
Abba forgive me!

I go where life takes me, and stand with those who I like.
Abba forgive me!

I resent Your commission, because I try to avoid suffering.
Abba forgive me!

I look out for myself and my family; I have laid You aside.
Abba forgive me!

I hunger and never have enough, yet I am full of myself.
Abba forgive me!

I "need" everything that I see advertised - I fear deprivation.
Abba forgive me!

I hold on to all I have accumulated, for I worked hard for it!
Abba forgive me!

Even so, O Glorious and Blessed One,
They-the-Three, give Themselves to me,
While claiming me as Their own child?

I don't know why, but let it be.
The vow I make here on Earth,
Has been stamped in Heaven.

Abba forgave me.
Abba forgives me.
Amen and AMEN.



(Taken from a Covenant Prayer in the Weslyan Tradition; UMH #607)





(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Before and After


Tired columns of exiles,
Crossing the Wilderness:
Angel-of-God bilocated,
Before and behind them,
Preceding and perfecting;
The Pillar-I-AM going,
Before and behind them,
Alpha and Omega in One.

The people, 
Encompassed.

Between Masters and their Slaves,
A Cloud towered in the darkness,
And the night was made into day;
There with the Sea to their backs,
One last chance to turn around... 

Exodus 14:19&20 by Tiwago






Monday, September 11, 2017

Tweeting #POTUS

My church is participating in a 'read the Bible in a year' program. Right now, our OT readings are in the Wisdom Book of Proverbs. Since Twitter is his preferred medium of communication, and as the self-appointed Twitter-Chaplain to the Tweeter-in-Chief, I sometimes tweet the President verses that seem Spirit-breathed words of guidance for a leader. My evangelical brethren tell me that Mr. Trump greatly values our Bible, so I am sure that he appreciates these daily devotional readings and meditations!

Here are examples from today:









I am surprised that he has not expressed his gratitude yet for my ministry...

Friday, September 8, 2017

DIY Fail Part 2


The world keeps telling me to "love myself" - if I can just love myself enough, some of that love will trickle down to others. "I am perfect just the way I am!" Then the world tells me all the things I need to buy to become "more perfect."

So, I was looking at the lectionary reading from Paul's letter to the "churches" in Rome...

"Do not borrow money, favors, or trouble. Don't owe ANYTHING to anyone; except love - owe love! Those who love others have perfected the Laws of Moses. Six of the Ten Commandments can be combined into one: 'Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF!' Love others as your own flesh and blood. Love others as part of yourself, part of the Body.

Love does not harm others.

Therefor, Love completes, fulfills, and brings to fruition the Law. Do you know what time it is? IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP! Every second, you are a second closer to sanctification. The long night is nearly done. The beautiful morning is just in sight. Throw away the selfish and treacherous deeds of darkness, and put on the brilliantly polished armor of reflected Light. 

In the light of day, you behave as though people can see you, right? You are called to live as if it were always full daylight, regardless of what time of night it is. Stop partying out of control. Stop letting your lusts lead you around. Stop being jealous of others, hating each other, and fighting.

Cover your nakedness with Christ the Light. 

Stop worrying about your "idols" and searching for self-gratification!"

(Romans 13:8-14)



(photography by tiwago)




Wednesday, September 6, 2017

DIY Fail

Abba - I try, and then I try again a little harder, but I still can't do it:


Teach me
The Way
And I will follow it to the end

Give me
Understanding
That I may discern and obey

Lead me
Along Your path
For I yearn for Your guidance

Turn me
Toward Your will
And away from my selfishness

Turn my head
From shiny distractions
So that I may live a righteous life

Confirm me
As part of Your covenenant
For I live in awe and amazement of You

Rescue me
From disgracing myself
Because Your decrees are good for me

See me
I long for perfection
By Your grace and mercy give me life

                                                  Tiwago


Psalm 119:33-40
(photography by tiwago)



Monday, September 4, 2017

Get Ready to March

Sometimes, we are called to teach with our feet, pray with our feet, advocate with our feet. Sometimes, we're called to flee, to go away from home, to find somewhere new and strange...


The Lord said: 

"This is a new beginning for you. Let it begin your calendar - let it start your new story.

Each household shall procure a lamb or kid. Some households will not be able to afford such an expense, so you must share evenly with your neighbors! The people shall all slay and butcher together as one community. All shall take the blood of these sacrifices, and paint their door-frames on the top and both sides. That same night, barbecue the meat. Treat it as manna - what you don't eat, throw away in the morning.

Be ready to march at a moment's notice. Eat it with tough brush-pants on. Eat it with your hiking boots on and laced up. Eat it with your walking-stick at-hand. Do not linger over the food - it is not a feast or banquet. Eat in readiness to assemble and move out. This is the night of my Passing-Over!

I will pass through the land where you have been enslaved and oppressed. As I pass by each of their houses, I will take away their most prized offspring. All their imaginary gods and shiny idols will be useless as I pass. I AM the Lord, and I will see the signs you painted. I will pass over my children.

For all time, mark this day on your calendar as Memorial Day. Feast to remember the time when you did not have time to feast because you were fleeing for your lives. Remember when you were an alien, abused and unwanted. Remember that you are my beloved, and that I have redeemed you. Remember me."

Exodus 12:1-14



(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...