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Come Near

Proverbs 3:11-20
11 My son, don’t despise Adonai’s discipline or resent his reproof;
1 John 3:18-4:6
18 Children, let us love not with words and talk, but with actions and in reality!
19 Here is how we will know that we are from the truth and will set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 if our hearts know something against us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts know nothing against us, we have confidence in approaching God; (CJB)


19 “And on these grounds, we will know that we belong to the truth and will persuade our hearts in the presence of the Unchangeable: that if our hearts blame us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all. Beloveds, if our hearts don’t blame us we have the confidence to come near to God. (Derived from Mounce Interlinear)
Matthew 11:1-6
asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?” Yeshua answered, “Go and tell Yochanan what you are hearing and seeing(CJB)
asking, “Are y…

But by My Spirit

Zechariah 4:1-14
6—‘Not by force, and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot.
Ephesians 4:17-32
17—do not live any longer as the pagans live, with their sterile ways of thinking.
22—you must strip off your old nature, because your old nature is thoroughly rotted by its deceptive desires23 and you must let your spirits and minds keep being renewed, —
30 Don’t cause grief to God’s Ruach HaKodesh, for he has stamped you as his property until the day of final redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, violent assertiveness and slander, along with all spitefulness.
Matthew 9:1-8
2—When Yeshua saw their trust, he said to the paralyzed man, “Courage, son! Your sins are forgiven.”




—“by my Spirit”
—Names of God
—sterile ways of thinking
—deceptive desires
—let your spirits and minds keep being renewed
—saw their trust


There is a sort of numinous pattern that connects one understanding to another in my reflections, but I’m having a hard time articulating it today. The linear progres…

How Much Longer?

1 Samuel 16:1-13
“How much longer are you going to go on grieving for Sha’ul, now that I have rejected him as king over Isra’el?”
I took some time to look up something from another piece I wrote about the story of Samuel and Saul: the really bad thing that Saul did was to profit from the destruction of the Amalekites, by sparing the life of their king (not out of mercy, but out of expediency), and taking all their valuable goods. In doing so, Saul was revealing that he valued the lives of people less than the profit he could make, or the political advantage he might gain.” (The blog post is called “Until the Day of His Death” posted on 7-12-2017.) 
This story relates itself to my situation. Like Israel, we were faced with an absolute— something needed to be dissolved utterly— dismantled; ended. The circumstances called for dispassionate fairness and the administration of a quick and merciful death. That did not happen. Like King Agag of the Amalekites, I found myself facing a King Saul …

Rinse and Repeat

Numbers 11:16-17,24-29 (incl. 18-23)
All right, Adonai is going to give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You won’t eat it just one day, or two days, or five, or ten, or twenty days, 20 but a whole month! — until it comes out of your nose and you hate it!
You know, I always seem to find the best parts in the redacted verses. Here’s God manifesting through Moses’ exasperation. Moses reminds me of Paul. Or should it be, “Paul reminds me of Moses”?
Ephesians 2:11-22
14 For he himself is our shalom — he has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah* which divided us 15 by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances.
(*a curtain or screen dividing the congregation in a synagogue; usually between men and women)
Alert! Alert! Radical Idea! —
Here’s a paraphrase to help us unhook from habitual and complacent ways of reading Scripture: ‘abolishing in his own body the antagonism caused by the Torah’s rigid regulations.’…

Be Still

Just last night I heard a song by a band called The Fray:
Be Still
The Fray
Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And colors you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I'm with you
And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know I am

(Songwriters: ISAAC SLADE, JOSEPH KING, DAVID WELSH, BEN WYSOCKI)


I have to confess, I’m tired. Pitilessly tired.
My words have lost all their grace and liveliness, and now sit neglected in wheelchairs in the corners of my mind; wheels lo…

Silent Dove

Psalm 56
Set to “The Silent Dove in the Distance”.
9 (8) You have kept count of my wanderings;
store my tears in your water-skin —
aren’t they already recorded in your book?

Distracted by the superscription— musing over what a tune called “The Silent Dove in the Distance” might sound like.


Leviticus 16:1-19
Then Aharon is to cast lots for the two goats, one lot for Adonai and the other for ‘Az’azel. Aharon is to present the goat whose lot fell to Adonai and offer it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat whose lot fell to ‘Az’azel is to be presented alive to Adonai to be used for making atonement over it by sending it away into the desert for ‘Az’azel.
Why two goats— one that lets us kill our sins, and one that lets us send our sins away into the wilderness? I don’t think there are two kinds of sins, though. I think that there are two methods of sinning or two means by which we sin: one in which our most apt response to sin would be that of sacrifice; of surrender; of severing, and one in w…

Rain Check

Psalm 50
14 Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God,
pay your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me when you are in trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”



Exodus 34: 1- 17
15 Do not make a covenant with the people living in the land. It will cause you to go astray after their gods and sacrifice to their gods. Then they will invite you to join them in eating their sacrifices,


1 Thessalonians 2: 13- 20
13……. 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.


Matthew 5:21- 26
23 So if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift. 25 If someone sues you, come to terms with him quickly, while you and he are on the way to court; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer …

That'll Do

On Sunday the Psalm was the famous 23rd.  I’ve heard it so many times that I never expected anything new to come wandering across the border from that hinterland, but there ya go. So, the liminal phrase is this: “Your rod and your staff they comfort me,” or as the CJB says, “your rod and staff reassure me.”
I got to thinking, “Well, just exactly how does a shepherd use a staff and a rod?” The staff is used to guide the sheep and to catch them. Traditional staffs used in the UK have horn crooks with a sharp curled tip, which I suspect is designed to catch in the fleece. The rod was essentially a club used to defend against predators, but also as a goad to correct the sheep.
I’ve never really identified with the sheep; I mean they are really not very smart and don’t have much of a survival instinct. I also have misgivings about identifying myself as the shepherd of the sheep. So, I asked myself, “What other role might I fill in the whole sheep-shepherd metaphor?” and it came to me: Shee…

All Aboard!

Psalm 37:1-18
18Adonai knows what the wholehearted suffer,
but their inheritance lasts forever.

(The NRSV has “blameless” in place of “wholehearted.”)
Exodus 20:1-21
18 (21) So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick darkness where God was.
Colossians 1:24-2:7
5…...the disciplined and resolute firmness of your trust in the Messiah.
Matthew 4: 1- 11
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “jump! For the Tanakh says,
‘He will order his angels to be responsible for you. . . .
They will support you with their hands,
so that you will not hurt your feet on the stones.’”

Yeshua replied to him, “But it also says, ‘Do not put Adonai your God to the test.’”


“Wholehearted”; “Blameless”— How could I ever claim that those words apply to me? But maybe there is no need to think in terms of claims; or prerogatives; or entitlements. Maybe it isn’t about ideas, or thinking, at all. Maybe this is a whole ‘nother take on Christ’s redemptive work. Maybe it’s about being entirely blameless but …

Alrighty Then

Exodus 17: 1- 16
12 However, Moshe’s hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aharon and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other; so that his hands stayed steady until sunset.
1 Peter 4:7-19
19 So let those who are suffering according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator by continuing to do what is good.
John 16:16- 33
In the world, you have tsuris. But be brave! I have conquered the world!”


I got stuck on the word tsuris. It occurred to me that ‘tsuris’ is roughly equivalent to ‘dukkha’. Both the Yiddish word tsuris, and the Sanskrit word dukkha translate into English as “troubles, aggravation, discontent, suffering.” After a little bit of research to make sure I wasn’t totally off-base, I’m going to run with the idea. I have observed many threads connecting Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity; so many that the underlying truths and expressions of understanding appear to me to be exactly the sa…

Where Are You Going?

Exodus 16: 23- 36
Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil; and whatever is left over, set aside and keep for the morning.
1 Peter 3: 13- 4: 6 (The Message)
Learn to Think Like Him
4 1-2 Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.
John 16: 1- 15 (CJB)
“Not one of you is asking me, ‘Where are you going?’


Sometimes I have no idea why a phrase stands out. I re-read the Old Testament passage 5 or 6 times, and no other phrase stepped forward— “Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil….”
At first, I heard it as “You’ll do what you want to do no matter what I say, so go ahead. Fine! Nothing I say is going to stop you.” No matter what good intentions I might have, I’m still going to go ahead and do the sam…

You Are Pruned

Exodus 15: 22- 16:10
(From 15: 26)“…...because I am Adonai your healer.”
1 Peter 2: 1- 10
(From 2: 9)“Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
John 15: 1- 11
Every branch which is part of me but fails to bear fruit, he cuts off; and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit. Right now, because of the word which I have spoken to you, you are pruned.


Many times, in doing this practice of Lectio Divina I find that the readings serve to simply remind me of something that I already know. My inner response is then, “Oh yeah, right…. I knew that.” That’s what happened today with the phrase from the Old Testament reading, “I am Adonai your healer.” I have often experienced relief, comfort, and what can only be described as ‘spiritual repair’ in the course of my contemplative practice. I think it’s fair to describe that as “healing.” That recognition reinforces my trust that I will indeed …

Calamities Within

Psalm 5
4 (3) Adonai, in the morning you will hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my needs before you
and wait expectantly.

10 (9) For in their mouths there is nothing sincere,
within them are calamities….

1 Peter 1: 13- 25 (CJB)
13 Therefore, get your minds ready for work, keep yourselves under control, and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed.
(From Mounce; my wording)
…set your hope completely on the grace offered to you in the manifestation of Jesus Christ
John 14:18- 31
27 “What I am leaving with you is shalom — I am giving you my shalom. I don’t give the way the world gives.
(From Mounce; my wording)
Peace I bequeath to you, my peace I entrust to you. The way I give is not the way the material world gives.
I could not find much of anything in today’s readings that contained any kind of resonance. That happens. I read over all the readings over in my usual manner, and then read them over again. Distraction and bother interfered with my equanim…