Monthly Archives: May 2017


Holy One we have heard stories about you from eye-witnesses of your wonders. Stories about your rescuing nations from slavery and oppression under tyrants without mercy or conscience. We believe them and thank you. We ask you please to do such things again and deliver heartsick people from their awful suffering and their paralyzing despair—deliver them who live in the hell-holes of the world here at home and abroad. Do it for them and do it to glorify your holy name that they might come to seek after you and find you for we who have the privilege to believe know that you are not far from any of us.
But Holy Father, their Holy Father as well as ours, they don’t know how to know you. They’re poor and ignorant and forcibly kept that way and know nothing of you or your Beloved Son. They weep and no one dries their tears, they’re lonely and no one comes to their side, they’re mentioned in headlines but no one prays for them, they’re hungry and those who would feed and clothe and bless them are kept from doing it by heartless crime bosses and the corrupted powerful.
We have a little—though only a little—understanding of the complexities involved in your dealing with these awful realities when it is humans against humans and you care for us all, the evil and the good. But we know that you are the Lord of heaven and earth and they have no other to stand by their side against the heartless predators that love to feed on their sorrow and dance to the crying of their little children. It appears Holy One that only those who rejoice in brutality and torturing others are free to exercise free will—the many millions are raped and pillaged and herded around like livestock, dumb animals, kept only to be sold or as food to be eaten and their remains scattered in the dust.
We who do care—Christians and non-Christians—don’t know what to do or how to do it so we come to you, for where else is there to go? We who are free can’t help rejoicing in our freedom while our brothers and sisters, little children and parents, huddle together in panic at the news that predators are returning, young here in our own towns, lie in fear of a bedroom door opening again, the unemployed and unemployable, the abandoned and betrayed—there is no end, they awake or lie sleepless only to meet another day of the same.
Ahhhhhhh, how long, they want to know; when will it stop they wonder; they fear that no one can stop it—ever. Holy One we know we are selfish but you must know because you have worked within us that we are not so selfish that we cannot at times enter into their pain and so now for a while we feel it and pray for them, Father, for them. Now! For them—for them!
Grant that we who have freedom will join with you to effect some change and that we will use our freedom for more than self-service. Shape our hearts and speech and actions with the person and meaning of Jesus Christ that if we can’t take away the sorrow and hurt of the world we can in the name of the Lord Jesus do something for those within our reach.
Grant that as we Supper with the Lord Jesus on the Lord’s Day that we will keep the Story alive that He is returning and that all wrongs will be righted and cruelty and injustice and suffering will be no more. Oh, Holy One, whatever the cost to us deliver us your people from any sense that we are your pets and remind us that we live to rejoice in your kindness to us and to serve the world because by faith we were baptized into union with your Holy Son who united Himself with them and with us forever. This prayer in His name.


I don’t know who sent this to me but I’ve had it a number of years and I read it every so often. It really is very funny; very funny indeed and…um…yet…um…well, it’s…it’s very funny. [I did not know who wrote it and I explicitly said so when I posted it quite a while ago. Someone  missed my opening sentence and thought I was plagiarizing and informed me that humorist Dave Barry was the author. Wish I’d written it.] Here it is; enjoy it!

I argue very well.
Ask any of my few remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties and church-gatherings. I sense that they feel a bit inferior to me so their weak grins and brief remarks before moving off are really the price I have to pay for their respect.  As a sign of their great respect (and to give someone else a chance to be right for a change) they don’t often invite me when they get together. I’m humble enough to understand that; anyway you can’t expect people to continue to act maturely when I’m always able to prove them wrong.

You too can win arguments. There’s nothing magical about it. Simply follow these rules: 

Drink Booze. 
Suppose you’re at a party and some hotshot intellectual is expounding on the economy of Peru, a subject you know nothing about. If you’re drinking some health-fanatic drink like grapefruit juice, you’ll hang back, afraid to display your ignorance, while the hotshot enthralls your date or your wife.
But if you drink several large martinis, you’ll discover you have strong views about the Peruvian economy. You’ll be a wealth of information. You’ll argue forcefully, offering searing insights and possibly upsetting furniture. People will be impressed. Some may even leave the room because they can’t face the power of your arguments.

Make things up.
Suppose, in the Peruvian economy argument, you are trying to prove Peruvians are underpaid, a position you base solely on the fact that you are underpaid, and you’ll be hanged if you’re going to let a bunch of Peruvians be better off. Don’t say:  “I think Peruvians are underpaid.” Say: “The average Peruvian’s salary in 2004, dollars adjusted for the revised tax base, is $1,452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 before the mean gross poverty level.”
NOTE: Always make up exact figures.
If an opponent asks you where you got your information, make that up, too. Say: “This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon’s study for the Buford Commission published May 9, 2005. Didn’t you read it?” Say this in the same tone of voice you would use to say, “You left your smelly socks in my shower.”

Use meaningless but weighty-sounding words and phrases.  Memorize this list:
“Let me put it this way”
“In terms of”
“Per se”
“As it were”
“So to speak”

You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as

“Q.E.D.,” “e.g.,” and “i.e.” These are all short for, “I speak Latin and you don’t.”

Here’s how to use these words and phrases.
Suppose you want to say: “Peruvians would like to eat more meat more often, but they don’t have enough money.”
You never win arguments talking like that. But you will win if you say: “Let me put it this way. In terms of meat-eating, vis-à-vis, Peruvians qua Peruvians, they would like to eat it more often, so to speak, but they, as it were, don’t have enough money per se. Q.E.D.”
Only a fool would challenge that statement.

Use snappy and irrelevant comebacks.
You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevant phrases to fire back at your opponents when they make valid points. The best are:
You’re begging the question.
You’re being defensive.
Don’t compare apples and oranges.
What are your parameters?
This last one is especially valuable. Nobody, other than mathematicians, has the vaguest idea what “parameters” means.

Here’s how to use your comebacks:
You say, “As JFK said in 1965…”
Your opponent says, “JFK died in 1963.”
You say “You’re begging the question.”
You say, “Nigerians, like most Asians…”
Your opponent says, “Nigeria is in Africa.”
You say, “You’re being defensive.”

Build a reputation before you get into an argument. This will intimidate your potential opponents (which is really everyone you meet).
You can do this by never admitting ignorance on anything.
If someone says something of interest that you never knew, make it appear to be old news. You can do this by saying things like, “Well, of course!” Or “That’s goes without saying.” Or “That’s what our first grade teacher used to drum into us.”
Your opponents will soon notice this about you (so will your few friends) and they’ll all be impressed. The proof that they’re impressed is when you notice that they stop telling you anything.
You can also build your reputation by topping every experience they’ve ever had.
If they’ve been involved in a tragedy, tell about a worse one you were in.
If they tell a funny story, tell a funnier one.
If they’ve seen a lovely sight somewhere, you tell them of something lovelier.
And don’t forget to begin each telling with, “That’s nothing, we were up in………..”

Keep this up and they’ll begin to look at you with awe in their eyes.

Closely related to this point is this: Don’t let your possible opponent (which is really everyone you meet) have his/her moment of glory.
If they’re telling a moving experience and you sense that others are impressed, short circuit the whole thing by changing the subject abruptly or your potential opponent might gain an advantage.
If you don’t think that’s appropriate you can always say, “Hmm” in a skeptical tone. That works well, especially because it casts vague doubt on the story without being specific.
Your other possible opponents (which are really everyone you meet) will notice this and fear your wisdom.

You can build your reputation as a debater by refusing to be intimidated.
It doesn’t matter that you’ve never been to Peru, or that your opponent only came back from there yesterday after living with Peruvians 32 years, having worked in local government, ditch-digging, newspaper editing and plantation work.
Remember your opinion’s as good as his so jump in with both feet, armed with your phrases and bag of tricks.

One final word, you now know how to out-argue anybody but don’t try to pull any of this on people who carry weapons.


As a boy growing up and believing that all those saved in Christ Jesus were going to heaven I still understood (because it was what everyone believed) that we were NOT going to be ghosts—a bodily resurrection was involved in our transition. I don’t remember wondering what use we’d have for our bodies but, then again, I do remember now and then thinking heaven might be boring. What would we do? Float around on clouds eternally plucking on harps? I do remember hearing that we’d sing and pray forever and I remember feeling that that wouldn’t suit me at all. But I was a boy, you see, playing marbles, “Churchy-one-over,” “Rally-O”, and such things. When I got into my teens I was involved in whatever was available that young people get into—I was alive and healthy, there were games to play, picture-shows to go to, soccer to play, girls to impress (or at least try to), friends to run around with, music to listen to, songs to sing, streams to splash in, camps to go to, YMCA to hang out in—there was life; life suited for the kind of creatures God had created. Understand, I’m speaking here of the harmless pleasures that were available to us (I’m leaving out the other involments). Life was far from being always easy—very far from it—but people adjust to what they don’t have or don’t have a lot of. Some are so tragically and breathtakingly deprived all their lives that they don’t know what they don’t have. (O God, how gallant humans can be even in the midst of insane conditions! Thank you for enabling them. Don’t let them down Holy Father. Grant that the life of your own gallant Son might be a source of hope and assurance for them even though they haven’t even heard His glorious name spoken. They can’t help hoping against hope that Someone somewhere sees it all and can and will do something about it.)

Those of us who have been blessed to believe in Jesus don’t profess to know just what is coming in the future but we know Who is coming and He has persuaded us to think noble things of God. And because He who is coming is the One who said, “I am life!” we’re assured. Paul said of Him (Philippians 1:21, Moffatt), “Christ is life to me!” Ask him to define life and he has only one word: Christ! Jesus does more than promise and give life—He defines it! “Look at Me,” He says, “I am life. I am what it means to be alive with the fullness of life. And I am contagious and if you spend a lot of time around me with your heart open you’ll find yourself being transformed and beginning to look and sound like Me.”

It is Life He is and it’s life He came to bring us. Life He came to bring us humans. It has “forgiveness” at its heart but that is the condition in which we enjoy LIFE and that’s more than forgiveness. God didn’t create humans to forgive them—He created them to give them Life, glorious Life, fullness of Life—life that humans were made for, life filled with all the harmless joys and pleasures that lead blessed humans to smile frequently and sometimes say to themselves, “It’s great to be alive!” And when the time draws near and it’s possible for them to reflect you’d hear most of them saying, “It’s been a great life!” (I know! I know about our countless fellow-humans now and in the generations gone who never had reason to smile. Groan! But God sees and calls us to do what we can do in His name and leave the rest to Him. Think noble things of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.)

God cares for our well-being and when He came as Jesus of Nazareth He illustrated that by healing and blessing and feeding—going about doing good because God was in that life (Matthew 8:16-17; Acts 10:37-38). All those liberating acts and words are “prophecies” of a day that is coming when all that is anti-God, anti-life and anti-human will be obliterated.

In the meantime the humans joys and pleasures, the human loves, the moments, the hours and the long years of material and social blessings are part of the proof that God loves humans and takes their humanity seriously. (The Incarnation has made that eternally clear! He became and is and forever will be one of us!)

One of our great mistakes in our believing lives, so it seems to me, is that we’re too “spiritual,” too religious. Our dividing our lives into sacred and secular is a major blunder, even though now and then the distinction makes limited sense. All our blessings have the same source. They’re from God. Israelites drank physical water and ate physical food in the wilderness and Paul calls it “spiritual” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The joy that filled the hearts of even wayward nations came from heaven (Acts 14:16-17; 17:24-28).

Watch a father and mother as together they look at their little children (I know about abused children; O God I know about them but…) and how precious they are to them; what wouldn’t they do, what wouldn’t they give to bless that child who almost immediately has become so entangled in their heartstrings that they love him/her more than themselves? This is being human! This is the gift of God to humans.

And those wives and husbands, lovers who have loved one another in honor (sigh!) are to be forgiven if in the middle of the complexities of life they find feelings that run deeper for one another than they do at the thought of God. (He isn’t jealous of such relationships—they’re His gifts. He’s only jealous of any relationship that draws us away from Him.) He didn’t make us spooks or passionless entities. He created us to love and be loved and in the middle of the chaotic, confusing, frightening world that we humans (as a single family) have helped to make and shape He has kept love and lovers alive as a witness to a coming day when all that wrong will be righted.

Listen to this love song by Jo Stafford (link below) and be unafraid to rejoice in it. Those of us who are tongue-tied in part because we don’t “see” well need poets and artists to write and sing about the lovely things of life and then we who are indeed blessed to know that such things come from God as gifts from God to humans—to us, and the world is never the same and the future is even more alluring and promises even more.



John Greenleaf Whittier was hardly Jesus Christ but he can hardly be blamed for that—not even the blessed virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother, was Jesus Christ. There never has been nor will there be a human life as filled with all the graces of the Holy One as the life of the Lord Jesus. Still, there have been other lives that in great measure, each in their own way, have reflected some aspect of the life of Jesus as He reflected God. Whittier was such a person.

He was of Quaker background, poor, hard-working and on rocky Massachusetts soil that exhausted and finally took the life of John’s father. The son was little educated, characteristically unwell, longing to marry and enjoy a family of his own but rejected in marriage and unlucky in romance he remained celibate until his death at eighty-five, weary and having given all he could give.

He was a man of strong convictions, especially in the area of social justice and he became a friend of the noted abolitionist and editor, William Lloyd Garrison. Having missed happiness he found a cause and into that cause he threw all his mental and emotional energy, in a ceaseless fight until he could fight no more. In his closing years, having done what he could do and tired of being at war with the world and now recognizing that all humans are caught up in same struggle against the evil powers, he extended his sympathy to all of them. As he lay dying in a friend’s house with a few people around him among the other things he said he said this: “Give my love to the world.”

It simply isn’t possible nor would it be right to ignore the evil that men do. However complex human life is, surely there is something missing in us if nothing can make us angry! The sadness, poverty, loneliness, deprivation, injustice and oppression cry out for someone to take it all into account and deal with it.

Do we not at times long for some person or persons to rise up in the hell-holes of the world and put a stop to cruelty that’s celebrated, brutality that beggars description? Have we not seen the weak and helpless raped and ravaged, hurt and humiliated and spoke a curse on the powers that have been let loose in homes near us and nations away on the other side of the world?

If someone rose up in Somalia or North Korea or south Dallas [name the place yourself] and brought justice, peace and prosperity to those enslaved by brutal leaders and their militia or by unemployment or heartless landlords or husbands–would we not sing his or her praises? Would we not nominate them for the Nobel Peace Prize? Would we not look at one another and now know what we always sort of knew–that there are things that matter more to us than who won the Super Bowl, what baseball or basketball or soccer team made records? If some righteous, strong, wise, loving one rose up and put a stop to carnage and agony wouldn’t we love it? Don’t we sometimes and in a focused and sustained way long for, even pray for and would vote for such a person?

Whittier, just another human like the rest of us, came to see that the entire world is in the grasp of evil powers to which it is captive and that’s what led him to say: “Give my love to the world.”

And there was the young man on the cross; the young man who felt at a depth no other human has felt, as no other human understood. In his dying he saw his own people Israel, the blind being led by the blind, heading for a 70 AD ravine and beyond.

He saw the evil, was experiencing it at that very time; injustice, envy, fear, self-serving power-brokers, religious and political–all this he saw and said, “Father, they don’t know what they’re doing; forgive them.”

But they did know what they were doing and they meant to do it and there lay the evil of it all. And yet, he knew they didn’t know what they were doing; he knew they were creating a nightmare that they would end up living through, again and again and again.

On his way to that hill where the powerful ones hurried him to be got rid of, he said to sad and sobbing women, “Are you weeping for me? Save your tears for yourselves and your children–this is only the beginning. These are the good times and the truly bad times are ahead.” [Luke 23:27-31]

He had had his own crying time. There was that time when he sat on a hill looking down on the city when he sobbed his heart out, chest heaving, eyes streams and voice breaking, “Oh Jerusalem, if you only knew…” [Luke 19:41-44]

But he saw more than Israel in it’s tragic ignorance. From his exalted position he saw the history of the entire human family. That day he prayed not only for Israel–it was a prayer for the entire world. “Forgive them; they have no idea what they’re doing.”

What nation in its sinful ignorance has not created its own conscious nightmare? Glance at history! China, Russia, England, Europe, Ireland, America and South America–where has there not been civil war, ceaseless oppression of the vulnerable?

There were those who at the time said that WWI was “a war to end all wars.” But now, a hundred years later we see that Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France  (You Tube) only echoes the truth that history forever shoves in our unbelieving faces. He has an imagined visitor speak to an imaginary [but real] nineteen year-old soldier, Willie McBride, who lies buried far from home; one of millions on both sides. The visitor to the graveyard has this to say as he finishes his talk with the boy:

Well Willie Mc Bride I can’t help wonder why
Do those that lie here know why did they die
And did they believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end war

Well the sorrow the suffering the glory the pain
The killing the dying was all done in vain
For young Willy Mc Bride it all happened again
And again,and again,and again,and again

Christians see the cross of Christ [as part of a larger Story] as the most momentous event in human history and I understand–I really do–why many think that’s a scandalous thing to say. But we can’t help it, it’s where we stand and we believe with Christ that his death is sentence being passed on “the world” [John 12:31, NJV]. “The world”–a name for the sinful and insane re-structuring of reality without the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ–it’s the dynamic reality that enslaves and blinds the human family to the truth that true and full life is found only in relation to God.

It’s there that evil is exposed as it is nowhere else! [Can’t you see that that must be scandalous in light of the horrors of history; horrors that are taking place at this very moment in homes and cities and countries? This young man, dying two thousand years ago is in and at that relatively painless dying experience the supreme judgment on the world’s inexpressible cruelty and moral lunacy? Do you wonder why people roll their eyes and walk off disgusted and stupefied? Of course we help them to react this way because we so often give them the impression that it was the great physical suffering of Jesus that is the important thing. The truth is, His physical suffering was nothing compared with what multiplied millions have suffered and are suffering even now. The true message lies in who it is that suffers what He suffers and why He does it.

    It was there on that public hanging-tree that Jesus said: “Give my love to the world!”

   That’s the Church’s business!   

The good news is this: the cross wasn’t the end of the Story! It wasn’t a sad, helpless young man they hanged there. He was sad beyond our knowing but he was anything but helpless if you believe what he himself said. Then God vindicated him by raising him from the dead and when he exposed “the world” for what it is and triumphed over the death-bringing satanic power that pervades that “world” he was giving humanity the assurance that all wrongs will be righted [Acts 17:31].

Think noble things of God!


Disease and death are so ugly and brutal. Maybe a terminal ward where everyone is a little child has an added pathos. Because I believe that every little child anywhere in the world is a servant of God I find consolation in knowing that however things appear there’s more in it than meets the eye and when the world is better we’ll clap our hands over our mouths in enlightened astonishment.

Like everyone else it guts me to see them suffer and die.

The raging fever is real, the gasping for air is real, the incubators, straps, tubes, leads, needles, pumps, drips—they’re all real. The silent screaming, the wide-open mouths and the tiny toothless gums, the jerking, twisting, the shrill crying or the silent panting—all real.

There’s no point in denying the reality of all that!

But what if what we see is not all there is?

What if there’s more (not less!) to what we see than what we see?

Would you not want to be able to believe that there was more?

One day outside Jerusalem there was a young man hanging on the public gallows. The spit, the sweat, the blood, the jeers, the taunts, the treachery, the hypocrisy, the race hatred—all real. The thirst, the loneliness, the sense of abandonment, the grief of a mother and friends, the injustice, the evil—all real.

But there was more!

In all that—not simply after it—in and through all that there was more.

There wasn’t less than that! There was more!


In the Mel Gibson movie, Christ, badly beating, not allowed to sleep, falling one more time, His mother runs to Him and He says, “Look, mother, I’m making everything new.” Using Revelation 21:5.

Without denying a bit of the ugly and brutal in it there was the wondrous in it, paid for in enduring anguish and pain.

There is more in the disease and death of a child! Let’s not reduce the child to an object of pity. Sadness we should feel but we should learn from them.

It speaks profound truths to the world, into which we have brought anguish, agony and loss, and what it says is said to us at a heartbreaking cost!
And what does it say?


I’m not sure if this is worth the time and space. Walk away if it’s not your kind of piece.
Does Genesis 6:1-2 teach us satanic angels “had sex with women” (which is how I’ve heard it phrased again and again)? Well, whatever those verses teach us they don’t teach us that anyone “had sex with women.” They tell us someone (“sons of God”) married women and had children by them (6:2,4).
This is a far cry from painting the picture of satanic angels manufacturing human bodies and “sleeping with women/” If these were satanic angels it seems they had more virtue than a host of humans today since they had the decency to get married. 
The picture of evil angels having a night out on the town with women is more bizarre but surely easier to swallow than seeing them settling down to marriage and raising a family.
Maybe, after all, though it still leaves us wondering, the more conservative view is correct: “sons of God” is a reference to godly people giving way to ungodly ways. (The context certainly suggests some evil involved and the implication may be, and I take it to be, that they were committing polygamy. See Genesis 5:19.)
The Jerusalem Bible renders 6:2 this way, “the sons of God, looking at the daughters of men, saw they were pleasing and married as many as they chose.” The NJB retains that reading and several other versions seem to agree though the language is a bit ambiguous. Note Genesis 4:26 that is suggestive of existence of a godly line.)
Psalm 82:6 has an equivalent expression (“you are all sons of the Most High”) which Jesus seems to use to refer to human rulers. See John 10:34-35. It’s clear enough that in the psalm God is rebuking wicked rulers of the vulnerable and dependent, The psalmist may be using mythological speech (God calling the gods into a council meeting to expose their wickedness in oppressing the vulnerable but being worshiped instead of abandoned). I take it that Jewish apostate human rulers are the embodiment and instruments of evil forces worshiped as “gods”.
And Luke 3:38 has the Greek equivalent used of Adam who was a “son of God” (the word “son” is in 3:21 ). If this is a legitimate use of the phrase then perhaps it can refer to some in the line of the godly that behaved in an ungodly fashion. Note again Genesis 4:26
(When people tell you that the phrase “sons of God” MEANS angelic beings tell them that a word or phrase MEANS what the writer MEANS IT TO MEAN. In the end, CONTEXT is king and not doubtful lexical claims. Because a word or a phrase is characteristically used in one way does not mean it isn’t used in another. We hear of “agape” MEANING godly love, God’s love for us and our love for Him and our fellow-believers. We find it used that way all over the place (1 Corinthians 13, the books of John). So we’re told that’s what it “means”. But Paul uses it of Demas “loving” the world in 1 Timothy 4, 1 John 2 uses it of people who would “love” the world. Jesus uses it of people who would “love” only those that “love” them (as pagan did) and implicitly rebukes them for such love. The word “agape” means what a writer means it to mean and context, near and remote, determines that, though we can’t get to the bottom of some questions.)
No one’s sure about the derivation of “Nephilim”. Some say it is “the fallen (ones)” and have fallen angels in mind but the passage doesn’t call the sons of God Nephilim, that’s the name given to the alleged offspring. . I say “alleged” because the text doesn’t expressly say the Nephilim were the offspring; it says the offspring were “the heroes of old, men of renown” (6:4). It’s perhaps an open question whether these two groups are to be identified or perhaps I’m being too cautious and missing the obvious.
In any case, there’s this interesting sidelight. This was all before Flood behavior and presumably (since all humans died but eight) the Nephilim were dead. But Israel came across the Nephilim (Numbers 13:33)  in Canaan and we’re given their tribal connections. If we’re to take the stance that Nephilim are the offspring of satanic angels and women we’d have to suppose that these marauding predators who believed in marriage (!) must have been active more than once. And on we go like a string of Hollywood movies.
It’s possible that the Nephilim were the mighty men of renown in Genesis 6:4. It may even be likely. If this is true, the Nephilim were men and men who gained for themselves a great reputation as heroic (whether good or bad we aren’t told). There is the suggestion in Numbers 13:32-33 that the Nephilim may have been very tall men. See Deuteronomy 1:28. Joshua 11:21 says Joshua defeated the Anakites and the record makes no big deal about it. Apparently they were simply tall men rather than half angel/half human aliens.
I’ve taken a fair amount of space on this question mainly, I think, to suggest how tricky texts like these can be. To read them, make sweeping assertions and then use them to build a far-reaching theology of Satan and satanic angels is precarious indeed.  it says the offspring were “the heroes of old, men of renown” (6:4).