Flattery will get you nowhere.

FlatteryThe child rearing program called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting teaches parents to help their children internalize values and make choices accordingly rather than depending on external forces such as rebuke, rules, and laws.

What this means is that, for example, a child learns to treat others with kindness out of respect (internal value) rather than because s/he will get in trouble with the teacher (external force). People who are incarcerated are so because they failed to internalize and personalize values. Continue reading →

How Seeds Are Like the Human Heart

The SowerAncient sowers did not know what they were going to get when harvest time came.

Without multi-row cultivators, GPS, and high tech pest and weed controls they didn’t know what challenges lay in the soil. Out the sowers marched, row-by-row, scattering seed by hand. Only time, sun, and rain would reveal which seeds would grow and which would not. Continue reading →

At your service!

Mary & JesusI’m fascinated by Mary, Jesus’ mother.

We don’t know a lot about her. Luke gives us a few insights: young and unmarried, from a no-nothing town called Nazareth, and pledged to marry Joseph. Luke says that when Jesus was 12, Mary scolded him for getting separated from the family. That’s about it.

The gospels paint a Mary that hangs around on the fringes of Jesus’ life. John said that Mary told Jesus that the wedding they were attending was out of wine, a social faux pas. Continue reading →


Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. ~Theodore Roosevelt

I recently remarked to my postal person that virtually none of the mail we receive today is personal; almost all comes with a digitally created label on the envelop and some sort of form inside.

Rare, indeed, is the handwritten post. Continue reading →

The Lectionary

A lot of people, when asked, “Do you know what the lectionary is?” say, “Huh?”

A lection is an orderly set of readings. Most of the time the word “lectionary’ is used in regard to the Bible, and it’s practice began sometime in the Middle Ages when the Jews sought to add some direction to the random synagogue readings of scripture.

By the time of Jesus, the Jewish lectionary was in full flower, and when Jesus read publicly in the Nazareth synagogue it was probably the prescribed reading for the day. Continue reading →

The Sufficiency of Jesus

A friend of mine commented recently that she had not been taught a great deal about the nature of Jesus even though she had grown up in a church community. It’s a curiosity that one could grow up in a culture and not know what the bedrock of its beliefs are, but it’s common.

There was an first century church community that had similar problems, exaggerated by persecutions they were experiencing. The message that a writer sent to them was, “Don’t give up.” But they had to have a reason not to give up. That is the basic idea behind the New Testament book of Hebrews. Continue reading →