Saturday, October 29, 2016

October Morning Haze

Friday, October 28, 2016

Blood On Your Hands

Listen to me! Selfish sovereigns of Sodom, listen to your God. 

Learn from me! Greedy gangsters of Gomorrah, learn from your God.

What do I care about your superstitious sacrifices; your guilt-gelt; your attempted bribes? I've had enough of your surplus! Am I starving that I need your burnt food? Am I poor that I need your blood-money? Who asked you for this useless junk? Get out of my face with your worthless devotions - you stink of blood!

Church on Sunday? Churches that complain about businesses being open on Sundays and Thanksgiving, yet which follow business models? I'm tired of your self-righteous worship!

So called "holidays"? You wear me out me with your "War on Christmas" lies; your Thanksgiving to the Flag; your Easter displays of excess!

You stretch out your hands to me, but all I see is the blood of the weak on them - the flesh of your sisters and brothers under your nails. You pray many mighty prayers, loud and wordy, but I will not listen to you until you've cleaned up. Remove the evil within you. Remove the evil in the Church. Remove the evil from society. Cease to be evil by ceasing to do evil. Cease to be evil by doing good.

Seek justice for my children!

Rescue your oppressed brothers and sisters!

Defend the defenseless!

Intervene for the powerless!

Feel free to argue with me about this - I prefer it over being ignored. Yes, your hands are stained crimson, but I can wash them clean as the wool of the Lamb!

Happy are the Bad-Made-Good.
Happy are the sinful salty Saints.
Happy are those without blame.
Happy are the pure and the open.

In unconfessed silence, I groaned,
Until I confessed in soft whispers;
Exposing myself, my many faults,
No longer hiding behind my pride.
Happy am I that I AM forgave me!

(Taken from Isaiah 1 and Psalm 32)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Another Day On The Farm

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Habakkuk For Humanity

Haby: Lord! How much longer are you going to ignore my cries for help? I scream about the pain and violence in the world, and you do nothing! Why did you have to make me able to see evil, but unable to look away? There is violence in the streets: death; chaos; hatred; fear; isolation. There is pollution, consumption, prejudice, corruption, abuse, rape, and much more all around me, all over the news, overwhelming me. The police and the legal system are failing us; justice for the poor and powerless no longer prevails. The rich and powerful few entrap us, and the vocal self-righteous minority demean the righteous majority. Justice is a perverted!

Never-the-less Lord, I will remain on station and keep watch, waiting for your attention - waiting for you to answer me!

God: Give them a vision to hold onto, one easy to understand and embrace. There is a plan, and it progresses accordingly. An end comes for these horrors! If it seems to be taking too long, wait for it; abide for it, hope for it, live for it - for it is unstoppable. Look at the proud politicians and the selfish billionaires, at those who take advantage of you, there is something wrong in them! Faith will sustain their victims.

You are all right, Lord!
You judge rightly, Lord!
Your laws are righteous!
Rightness consumes me,
But my foes are lawless.

Your promise is a rock -
Your servant depends on it.
I am weak and despised,
Yet I remember your Truths.
Your righteousness is,
A forever righteousness.

Hateful times have come,
But I delight in your Word.
You tell me right things,
And help me understand.

Taken from Habakkuk Chapters 1 and 2, and Psalm 119.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Garden

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

... and so he told another story.

"Huh?" the people asked.
"WTF?" the people thought.

"Two people got online one day:
To post and repost many prayers,
On their Face Book walls and such;
To tweet and re-tweet many witnesses,
On their Twitter feeds and other such;
To theologize; to instruct; to be present.
One honored the ten Commandments;
While the other honored the Beatitudes."

"Huh?" the people asked.
"WTF?" the people thought.
"Is he talking about me?"

"One thanked God:
That he was white;
That he was hetero;
That he had plenty;
That he was 'better';
That his church was THE Church!"

"The other cried to God:
Because she was broken;
Because she was beat-up;
Because she was in need;
Because she felt unworthy;
Because other people stared at her!"

"Huh?" the people asked.
"WTF?" the people thought.
"Did he just insult me?"

"One justified himself; while,
The other one, God justified -
One sought to change others;
One sought to accept change.
Those who raise themselves,
Above others will fall down.
Those who're humble servants,
I will raise up and I'll glorify!"

"Huh?" the people asked.
"WTF?" the people thought.

~ Tiwago

(photography by tiwago)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Medicinal Meditation

My mind in turmoil
Running many races
On hamster wheels
In overgrown mazes

My soul in hiding -
Curled up in a ball;
Hiding from the dark,
By closing my eyes.

My spirit in chains.
Myself much in doubt.
My value in question.
My, me, mine, myself!

Soothing cool water.
Calming liquid sound.
Nurturing green essence.
Sun of new hopefulness.

~ Tiwago

(photography by tiwago)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Palm Fronds

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Be the Gnat!

Gather around as the Rabbi tells us a story:

"In a city like this one, there once was a Judge who neither obeyed God nor respected people. And in that city, there was a homeless woman; she had no money, no power, no political pull - no influence. Over and yet some more, she appeared before the judge seeking justice against her oppressor. Yet, the oppressor was a rich white man, a donor to many officials, a mover and a shaker in high-society, a man of great influence and power. Justice never went her way, but always she stood up and spoke out against oppression!

The Judge grew weary of her persistence, and thought: 'I fear no god or man, but this little gnat is so annoying!  The next time, I think I'll just give her the verdict, just to shut her up!' If this were a Greek tragedy, the poor woman would have in the meanwhile given up without ever knowing justice; but, this is not that kind of story!

Do you remember what the unjust justice said? If even he can grant justice, how much more can you expect from a just God? Will God ignore your tears? Will God leave you all alone, helpless and hopeless? Of course not! In mercy and grace, he will grant justice at once!

And yet...

When I return, what will I find? Will I find the faith to seek justice? Will I see the will to grant justice?"

(From Luke 18:1-8)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Itching Ears

Remember what we learned from our parents, from our spiritual guides, and from our teachers? Remember them, and honor their legacy in us. All scripture is inspired, and is useful for expanding our knowledge of God and Man, to give us a point of reference, to correct our paths when we go astray, to show us how to be good to others - so that, we may be prepared to give aide and comfort in a world of hurt and need.

Before God, I urgently press you to proclaim the gospel. Proclaim the gospel in the good times as well as the bad times. In your prophetic role, nurture those growing in faith, guide those who've lost their way, and encourage your sisters and brothers with love and patience. For the time has come when acidic words of corruption grow like a cancer in the Body.

Our ears long for self-justification, and our minds have become addicted to junk-food. We raise up, and gather around,  preachers and teachers, politicians and pundits, experts and journalists, who suit our own tastes, and support our desires, who confirm us when we should be corrected instead. The time has come when we avoid harsh truths and complex thoughts, and accept myths and manipulated facts as received truths!

But you! You shall be thoughtful (discerning and wise). You shall endure the harsh words of false prophets and disciples of flesh and ease. You shall be God's spokes-people, and humanity's conscience. You shall be the Lord's missionaries to outpost Earth.

(From 2 Timothy 3:14 - 4:5)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Fire

the autumn sun now hangs low,
setting aflame fields of corn;
gold, purified and smelted -
echoes of forgotten prairie fires

                        ~ tiwago

(photography by tiwago)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A God-Moment

I have a Life Group gathering this afternoon. One of the questions that we ask each other is always: "what was your God-moment this past week?" This is mine:

I had the honor to fill the pulpit this morning as a supply preacher, so that the pastor could have time with her distant family. I typically do not type out my sermons, but instead jot down notes to keep my mind from straying too far off track. Nor do I usually practice sermons. My theory has been that I want to leave room for the working of the Spirit. This week however, I typed out my sermon and I practiced my sermon on Jeremiah 29, God's letter from home to the exiles. During my preparation, I had became so passionate about the message to us today during these trying times that I wanted to be sure to use every gem I had drafted. This morning, before dawn, I awoke in a panic - I hadn't even thought about the children's message! Again.

When the time came, I lamely asked the youth if they had ever been homesick, and to remember how good it felt to get a letter from home (as soon as it came out of my mouth I thought: "a letter?, do they even know what a letter is?") or a care-package. Full of grace, the children responded beyond expectation and saved me, but I was glad when it was over so I could get to the main event, the "real" message!

As I preached, I every so often noticed a woman sitting attentively, all alone, in the back pew. After the service, I made my way down the aisle through the sanctuary, accepting compliments on my message and my passion. As I reached the last row, the woman stepped forward to stop me. I saw that she was gently crying, and wondered what part of my meticulously written and dramatically presented sermon had moved her so? "I was struck so by what you told the children that I am running straight out to buy things for care packages for students and others who are away."

God is not always were I expect him, but he is always there! Immanuel y'all, Immanuel...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sunday's Sermon

This is a letter from home - a letter about a stolen past and an uncertain future. God spoke to “The Exiles” through the hand of his prophet Jeremiah - God speaks to all exiles in all times. Being an exile is a strong and consistent thread, deeply woven throughout the fabric of the Biblical narrative:

     Humanity survives in exile from the Garden.

     The family of the patriarch Israel were exiles in Egypt.

     Moses and the tribes were homeless exiles, trying to find a way home.

     The lost tribes were exiled into Assyria, where they were swallowed up by the dominant culture.

     The best and the greatest of the once proud remnant were nothing but weeping exiles in Babylon.

     Jeremiah himself would soon go into exile in Egypt.

In this letter to the frightened Babylonian exiles, God writes to us today as well:

     Our Holy Family fled from violence and corruption to safety in Egypt.

     We Jews were exiled from the Promised Land out into the Roman Empire in a great diaspora.

     We Christians lived as exiles; yet we also exiled others.

     History is but a series of wars, famines, and resulting displacements.

America is a proud country of unwanted, but hopeful, exiles!

     The Puritans, exiled for their religion.

     The Irish and the Scots, exiled for their land.

     Africans, kidnapped for their economic value. 

This is a sad litany of sorrow and inhumanity - a lament of bad news. Where then, we might ask, is the good news in all this horror? God gave mankind hope twice over, and gives it still today!

First, he gave us actionable, secular, hope:
This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, to all the exiles I’ve taken from Jerusalem to Babylon: 
“Build houses and make yourselves at home. 
Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country.
Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away.
Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare.
Pray for Babylon’s well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you.”

(Jeremiah 29:4-7; The Message)

Do we hear the commands of God?

     Build for tomorrow!

     Plant for tomorrow!

     Live for tomorrow!

     Pray for tomorrow!

Do we obey?

No longer were we exiles - we were citizens! But, what about us today, here in this sanctuary? Are we Exiles-from-Eden being good citizens, contributing to the common good? How do we act for the welfare of our community and our nation? Are we tempted to surrender our freedoms in fear, or to surrender our right to vote because we are frustrated with the system or disillusioned by the clay feet of the candidates?

     When we build our McMansions in our gated-“communities”, are we not exiling ourselves from          our true communities?

     When we interact only with those most like ourselves, are we not exiling ourselves from our                brothers and sisters?

     When, by our public and private discourse and deeds, we strive to prevent the newest groups of          exiles from following God’s commands to make themselves at home and to contribute to the                greatness of our country, are we not exiling ourselves from our cherished national heritage?

Are we not then, exiling ourselves from God?!

And then, God gave his hopeless people covenantal divine hope - then and now:
This is God’s Word on the subject: 
“As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you” - God’s Decree - “bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.
(Jeremiah 29:10-14; The Message)

God promises Immanuel!

God promises that we are included in his plans!

God promises us an intimate relationship with him!

God says that we are no longer unwelcome strangers, no longer unwanted aliens, no longer powerless exiles. He has proclaimed us (once and for all) to be his own family; and thus, family to each other! 

Praise Abba from whom all rights and blessings flow!!!

(photography by tiwago)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fall Feathers

Thursday, October 6, 2016

To the Exile

God speaks to all the exiles
God speaks to all the uprooted
God speaks to all the dispossessed
God speaks to all the unwanted folk
The Babylonian Captives
And the Diaspora Jews
And the Plymouth Pilgrims
And the Mexican Migrants
And the Syrian Refuges

Build a house
Live among them
Plant trees and gardens
Marry into the community
Have daughters and have sons
Have grandchildren and greatgrandchildren
Adapt and adopt but maintain your culture
Do not die out as people
Do not become an extinct peoples

Seek the welfare of your neighborhood
Seek the welfare of your city
Seek the welfare of your new home
Pray to God for your new country
For if it thrives, so to shall you

~ Tiwago

(from Jeremiah 29)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Harvest Poem

summer dies
so that autumn may
give us life

~ tiwago

(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ten Lepers Leaping

On the way to the big city
Jesus came to a village where
He was confronted by ten lepers
     Homeless people
     Poor people
     Broken people
When they saw him they begged
When he saw them he blessed
They leapt up - healed, and left

But one was different
One came back
One kneeled
One gave thanks
The one who was a foreigner

Ten were made clean
Nine thought it their due
None turned back but one
     The non-chosen
     The unwanted
     The minority
Jesus told him to get up
Jesus told him to go out

Ten were made clean by the faith of the Son
One was made whole by his faith in the Spirit

~ Tiwago

(from Luke 17)