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True or False Behavior?

True or False:
I was glad when they said to me, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!


Or false?

An old song by Alice Cooper says, “I really can’t tell just by watching your behavior.”


In God We What?

Jennifer Garner is the latest person to ask us at end of credit card commercials, “What’s in your wallet?”

If we carry cash, it says on it that “In God we trust.”

Do not fear, for I am with you, God says in Isaiah 41:10, and continues, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; for I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

“In God we trust” is on our money.

Is it in our hearts?

Evidenced in our lives?




Even if You’re Not into Country Music

John Vidakovich is a super-close friend, colleague, and the most serious Beatles fan I’ve ever met. A couple of days ago he recommended I make time for the new Ken Burns film.

United Methodist Bishop Ken Carter recently wrote this about it, which I share here with his graciously expressed permission

Some of my insights from Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary thus far:

1. Johnny Cash was both a prophet and a priest.

2. The struggle is to find one’s authentic voice. And it requires courage.

3. Some artists are simply ahead of their times.

4. Self-destructive behavior is often a part of a narrative that began with abuse.

5. Appealing to the bottom line in music leads to mediocrity.

6. Succession—blessing the gifts of the next generation—is complex.

7. Austin, Texas was the salvation of Nashville, Tennessee.

8. If you don’t know country music, you could begin with three songs: Sunday Morning Coming Down; He Stopped Loving Her Today; and Pancho and Lefty. If you’re not into country music, I recommend watching episodes six or seven first.

— All I can do is point to Psalm 49:4 in The Message version:

“I set plainspoken wisdom before you,
my heart-seasoned understandings of life.

“I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise.

“I solve life’s riddle with the help of a stringed instrument.”

Yup, Psalm 49. And/or country music.

For real. 

Good, Grief

Drew Hensley is a Presbyterian colleague who recently wrote this —

It was probably a year ago I found myself watching YouTube video after YouTube video; not of cats playing pianos or dogs speaking (I knew that’s what you were thinking) but of blind people receiving eye transplants and experiencing vision for the first time. It was amazing to witness the raw emotion and overwhelming, speechless joy of these individuals.

As tears streamed down their face it didn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that their lives were forever changed. They had new insight (literally) that they never had before. Certain experiences that were once out of their grasp, for the first time encompassed a new awe inspiring reality.

As we journey through grief; whatever the circumstance may be, our vision has been forever altered. There are things you are now able to see and process that you were never able to before. There are ways in which you will be able to interact with and care for others experiencing suffering that is uniquely insightful, helpful, and healing that others cannot.

This caught my attention today since Pastor Harvey and Christine and I are offering Grief Support Groups at our churches this year. Small groups, big impact.

What do you say in response to Drew’s assertion here? I look forward to hearing from you in any of our usual ways.

There’s a Lot Nobody Told Us

Chapter 1

“There’s a lot nobody told us when we were young,” I used to observe to friends.

We’d smile.

The next line would be some variant of, “But we probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.”

Laughter. Nodding.

Chapter 2

At some point my observation changed. I began hearing myself saying, “There’s a lot nobody told us…when we were younger.”

No smiles.

The next line shifted to something along the lines of, “But who listened?”

No laughter. Just nods.

Chapter 3

Then it changed again. My observation included both lines in one breath: “There’s a lot they tried to tell us, but we didn’t listen.”

Painful silence.

Chapter 4

Now we’re the ones trying to tell those who are younger.

Is anybody listening?



Time for New Affirmations?

The Church has long had Affirmations of Faith, which are statements of shared basic beliefs.

Maybe it’s time for Affirmations of Understanding.

They would they be statements of shared basic things we grasp about our faith.

Would they be too personal to be held in common?

Or like Affirmations of Faith, would Affirmations of Understanding be touchstones and/or templates?

I’d love to hear from you about this, via any of the usual connections, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

A Big Prayer Request

This is neither the time nor place to go into detail.

But I have a big prayer request.

Please keep the delegates to the 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church in your prayers.

They’re sure in mine.