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Jesus, our brother

17 While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; 19 then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

     ~ Matthew 20: 17-19
Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero. 
      ~ Marc Brown
He did not stop teaching from the moment we know of it in the temple at twelve, to the last moments on the cross.  He spoke blessing, cursed a fig tree, spoke encouragement, and taught, in plain words, parables, physical examples, miracles.  Very few gave him encouraging words on his way, however, when I was reading the gospel of Matthew, I noticed that just after the featured daily scripture, was the story of the mother who was lobbying for her sons’ position in heaven (Matt 20:20.)  Before this morning, I always took that to mean she was being political.  Embedded in her mother’s plea was the subtext that she believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  She was letting him know that not only did she believe in him, she wanted to insure her sons’ a place next to him!
Jesus answered, inviting the two to drink of his cup, but reminding all that the Father was the only one who could make the call of where folks would sit in heaven.
Today, look in the subtext of your lives.  Who is trying to encourage you, lift you up, in ways that you may have never recognized before now?  You who read this do it for me every day.
Because of Him,

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DiNozzo and McGee and spiritual milk

Sometimes I have to stand on my head to see things as they are, when the world seems so upside-down that this is the only position in which anything makes sense.

       ~Author Unknown
Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
     ~ 1 Peter 2:2-3
Babies, once they are able to pull themselves up, experiment with many positions, often ending up on their behinds.  They play peek-a-boo through hands, feet, looking through their legs, upside down, flat on their backs.  It is all fun and gradually they learn to test the waters and pull themselves up, move themselves around the room by holding on to the furniture or anything they can grab.  Eventually babies become toddlers and new ways of travel open up. After crawling which is an oft returned to favorite for a while, walking develops and then short bursts of running.  The same goes with food, milk in its purest form is what doctors recommend, then cereal, soft foods, teething crackers, etc.
Last night, while watching NCIS the show’s adorable geek and the Pan-ish lead, DiNozzo,  got chased by Dobermans.  The geek, McGee,  always the object of Tony’s ridicule, got to safety by relying on his legs to move as fast as they could, getting into the waiting car and locking the door on the ever chiding lead, leaving only the moon-roof accessible to his ever suave partner.  The partner who dove head first ending up looking like a toddler playing peek-a-boo, with the sound and sights of angry dogs trying to reach anything they could.  End of scene.
We learn to walk in the Lord in the same ways.  We start out on the “red words,” the Psalms, the Proverbs. Often the first gospel one reads as a new Christian is the gospel of John. As we gain in knowledge and experience the other books find their place in our education.  In moments of danger, fear, we employ all of our lessons, knowledge to help us.  Even if we end up, upside down staring through a moon-roof at our partner, a lesson is learned, a new respect for someone we may have teased or overlooked becomes our own, and we move on, safe and sound.
The geek did the simple thing, the suave had to rely on all of his instincts, not his charm or cunning.  Milk, full meal.  Each has its place.  
Come let us celebrate the diversity of the Lord’s classroom!
Because of Him,


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Iktomi and the Berries

Errors like straws upon the surface flow: 

Who would search for pearls must dive below.

      -John Dryden, poet and dramatist (1631-1700) 
Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
     Deut.6: 6-7
There is a story collected and illustrated by Paul Goble called Itktomi and the Berries, a Plains Indian Story.  
It is the story of an aging Plains Indian who is quite vain.  He is walking along (all stories about Iktomi begin this way,) overdressed in his best finery, so that all the young girls will notice how handsome he is, and he proclaims that he is on a hunting trip.  He is going to impress all the relatives with his hunting prowess.  He sets off to find prairie dogs or ducks.  He bumbles past both and finally sees some treasure in the river, buffalo berries! He attempts to pick the berries from the river, including putting a rock around his neck so that he might go to the bottom and collect them, only to find that he is chasing their reflection.
Iktomi is a shallow man, searching for treasure in a shallow way.  He did not take the time to consider how to hunt for the ducks, only how he would look while he was hunting.  He came away with no finery, no ducks, no prairie dogs and no berries after he beat the bushes in anger.  Not much of a catch.  
It is easy to get caught up in the magic of looking good, expressing goals that are beyond our reach without the study, and bragging about the end result before we have even set foot outside.  Better to wear the shoes of the gospel of peace on the road to the treasure, than heels that get caught in the mud.
Because of Him,

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All Things Possible

37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

– Matthew 22:37-39
Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. 
  ~Bill Cosby
     I have an opportunity before me.  I have a place to stay, my way has been paid.  In face, I have been asked to prepare something for NEXT year’s conference and I have never been to this particular yearly one before. My only responsibility is to get there.  I need to speak to my boss. That is the last step.  
     There is a hurdle there, built of years of not feeling as if I am good enough, smart enough, thin enough, tall enough. Years of someone making excuses for why I could not do something.  Years of me buying into that.  There are so many that believe I can and the one who really needs to embrace this is me.  It is hard to look back on all the things I have done and take any credit.  I look around and see the smarter, more articulate folks and wonder, “Why me?”  
     My prayer is to take Bill Cosby’s advice.  Because in Him, all things are possible.
Today, look at that hard thing and walk to and through it in the name of Jesus.
Because of Him,
All Things Possible – Mark Schultz

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Making it Clear

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

  – I John 4:18
We should not write so that it is possible for the reader to understand us, but so that it is impossible for him to misunderstand us.
 – Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintilianus),
   rhetorician (c. 35-100)
I love building my vocabulary.  I subscribe to Word a Day, http://www.wordsmith.org/awad/  and endeavor to use new words in my writing regularly.  When someone uses a word I do not know, I write it down and look it up.  Several of my pastors and favorite teachers have been some of my best sources for books I need to read and words I need to learn.  What I have loved about each and every one of them is that they wanted us to understand.
I have also encountered those who speak in big words to demonstrate their knowledge.  I respect them as well.  I used to just be quiet if I did not understand, thinking that I must be stupid or they assume I should know. 
 But I found that to be very unsatisfactory. And, unsurprisingly, it lead to ill feelings; about myself, about the speaker.  Now I either write it down, or it is not too time consuming, pause the conversation and ask.  Many years ago, my friend John gave a sermon on big words and just how many Jesus used.  The point of his sermon was that Jesus wanted to be understood.  He planted seeds of knowledge, questioning, change,  with words that were common and easy to understand.  He did not talk down to his audiences, he simply told stories and made statements that left it up to the listener to understand, not run to the local scrollery to pick up the latest “dictionary” to leave rolled up under a tunic. 
Today, speak from your heart and look to the Lord for the right words. If you tend to speak very fast, slow down a bit so that you do not create a mondegreen (!) (ie; Our Father, who art in heaven harold be thy name…)
Because of Him,

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February 22, 2013 · 11:23 am

Only a Dream

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
    – Romans 13:9-10
Contempt is the weapon of the weak and a defense against one’s own despised and unwanted feelings.
      – Alice Miller, psychologist and author (1923-2010) 
Only a Dream

I stood in a line that I had no time for

two deep in three columns

to have something appraised that I did not bring
bought things I could not afford
distracted from the line
 to find it was gone
taunted by children 
who were only following their elders
only to have my quilts dismembered
my baskets empty
overcharged for Old Spice and many jewels
admonished by an old friend in a white colllar,
who was not a gemologist
reaching home to worry about returning everything
cleaning supplies were discarded, mocked
replaced with an older group just as expired
discovered that all were family
was forgiven 
only to find that it was all
only a dream, well almost.
                     by Linda T. Dickman
This poem is what I woke up with. It is the dream I survived.  I take it to mean that my life is way overcrowded and things are changing everywhere.  No matter what, I need to follow the rules I know, in love.  For truly, no matter what, I am loved.
Because of Him,


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Firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer

If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, — quieter, warmer. 

     -Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, Nobel laureate (1905-1961)

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!

Proverbs 17:9


In High School, I was a font of knowledge.  I was the information booth I had always wanted to be.  If it was happening I knew.  Sadly, I did not keep it to myself and while I would deny such a thing, I was that person who if you said, “Don’t tell anyone, but..” I did.  I just wanted friends.

Over time, I found out the hard way.  Someone planted a rumor on me, and it grew.  When I was confronted, I denied it until I was exposed by the starter of the “secret.”


I took a long time to earn trust back or at all for me.  It took a longer time to really study my mom and realize just how quiet she was, and just how trustworthy.  She knew when to shut up.  I betrayed her confidences when I was younger and felt the full weight of her disappointment.  It was worse than being spanked or punished.  It was a punishment in itself.


I love what Dag Hammarskjold said.  I have learned to be quieter, and reluctantly, firmer.  I want to be that trustworthy friend.  The way I began this process was to pray one day, Lord, let me bury this very deep in my heart where only you know how to find it.  Then, when someone would say to me

“Don’t tell anyone,” even if they were trying to use me to get information out, they could not count on me.  If they asked me to do their talking, I slowly learned how to encourage them to do it for themselves.  I will not tell you that on any day I am perfect.  I will tell you that his quote is more my prayer.  I know who I can trust with that.


Because of Him,


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