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The Vanishing Faithful

Psalm 12 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
2 (1) Help, Adonai! For no one godly is left;
the faithful have vanished from humankind.
3 (2) They all tell lies to each other,
flattering with their lips, but speaking from divided hearts.

Isaiah 2:1-11
Their land is full of idols;
everyone worships the work of his hands,
what his own fingers have made.
9 A person bows down, a man lowers himself —
don’t forgive them!

10 Come into the rock, hide in the dust
to escape the terror of Adonai
and the glory of his majesty.

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
13 Another reason we regularly thank God is that when you heard the Word of God from us, you received it not merely as a human word, but as it truly is, God’s Word, which is at work in you believers.
19 For when our Lord Yeshua returns, what will be our hope, our joy, our crown to boast about? Won’t it be you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and our joy!

Luke 20:19-26
They sent spies who hypocritically represented themselves as righteous, so that they might seize hold of someth…
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You Know

Psalm 142 4(3) When my spirit faints within me, you watch over my path. By the road that I am walking they have hidden a snare for me. 5(4) Look to my right, and see that no one recognizes me. I have no way of escape; nobody cares for me.
Lately I’ve been dry as a bone when it comes to inspiration for my writing as drawn from the Daily Lectionary. Just now I got hung up on the Psalms. Whenever I read them, they seem to be full of enemies; pitfalls set for the innocent; dire wishes that God will smite the wicked (always according to the writer’s idea of who it is that’s wicked); complaints in which the writer whines about various miseries and emotional crises; and, last but not least, an odd sort of formulaic flattery in which God gets praised for being just great and doing wonderful things, in spite of all the scary enemies, hidden traps, bad people, and terminal angst. I had no luck on the internet, so I retreated to Robert Alter’s translation: 1 A David maskil, when he was in the cave, a p…


Psalm 125
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the Lord will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel!

Is it possible that we have misunderstood what “good” is? If I believe that God rewards ‘goodness’ with health, material wealth, and happiness, then I’m left with only two conclusions: 1) God lies, or 2) I’m not good. Well, I reject both of those notions! Therefore, “good” must mean something different. I’m not sure, but I suspect that “goodness” is a quality, not a quantity. If goodness is a characteristic or a quality, then the psalm is saying something like,
“Add more goodness, O Lord, to the ones who choose goodness, and to those who are steadfast and honest in their hearts! But the ones who turn away down dark and crooked ways— leave them alone to enjoy each other’s nasty company!”
Zechariah 11:4-17(Verses 1 through 3 comprise a poem about a forest fire, in which Lebanon is urge…

Conspicuous Ambiguity

Shobogenzo; Genjo Koan 91
When we find this place, this action is inevitably realized as the Universe. When we find this way, this action is inevitably the realized Universe (itself). This way and this place are neither great nor small; they neither subjective nor objective; neither have they existed since the past nor do they appear in the present; and so they are present like this. When a human being is practicing and experiencing the Buddha’s truth in this state, to get one dharma is to penetrate one dharma, and meet one act is to perform one act. In this state the place exists and the way is mastered, and therefore the area to be known is not conspicuous. The reason it is so is that this knowing and the perfect realization of the Buddha-Dharma appear together and are experienced together. Do not assume that what is attained will inevitably become self-conscious and be recognized by the intellect. The experience of the ultimate state is realized at once. At that same time, its myste…

Making Distinctions

James 1:1-15
But let him ask in trust, doubting nothing; for the doubter is like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind. Indeed that person should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, because he is double-minded, unstable in all his ways.
I couldn’t make sense of this passage, because it sounds like James is telling the doubter that he should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, because he is double-minded. But I think James was too wise to waste his advice on people who can’t understand what he’s talking about. So, I fished out a bunch of translations, some of which said the same thing in different words, but some said something completely different. I went to the Greek, and I think I’ve figured out the problem. The phrase “should not” isn’t there! Literally, word by word, the Greek says:
But ask in assurance —not one making-of-distinctions(diakrinĊ)—for the making-of-distinctionsis like an ocean wave driven-by-the-windand agitate…

Sorry Sinners

Psalm 81
11 (10) I am Adonai your God,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth, and I will fill it.’

12 (11) “But my people did not listen to my voice;
Isra’el would have none of me.
13 (12) So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to live by their own plans.

Luke 15:1-10
7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who turns to God from his sins than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy among God’s angels when one sinner repents.” (CJB)

I guess it all depends on who’s listening.
I’ve met people like that: the ones who don’t listen. The ones who keep on complaining after they’ve gotten what they wanted. The ones who keep arguing their point even after everyone gives in. The ones who keep believing a lie even though they have proof that it’s false. The ones who point fingers whenever they’re trying to escape the consequences. The ones who think they know the way …


Luke 14:25-35 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
25 Large crowds were traveling along with Yeshua. Turning, he said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, his mother, his wife, his children, his brothers and his sisters, yes, and his own life besides, he cannot be my talmid. 27 Whoever does not carry his own execution-stake and come after me cannot be my talmid.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Don’t you sit down and estimate the cost, to see if you have enough capital to complete it? 29 If you don’t, then when you have laid the foundation but can’t finish, all the onlookers start making fun of you 30 and say, ‘This is the man who began to build, but couldn’t finish!’
31 “Or again, suppose one king is going out to wage war with another king. Doesn’t he first sit down and consider whether he, with his ten thousand troops, has enough strength to meet the other one, who is coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he hasn’t, then while the other is stil…