Daily Riches: When Politicians and Clergy Conspire Against Justice (Gary Haugen)

“If we are struggling against injustice we are dealing with people of power or authority who abuse that power and lie about it. …We are talking about the most exalted and esteemed people of power and authority in the society – these are the liars we are dealing with when we confront the deepest injustice. Therefore those of us who have been raised with a respect for authority and a Romans 13 deference to government officials must, if we are going to seek biblical justice, accustom ourselves to the unsettling reality that those who have power and authority are not only capable of abusing that power but are capable of going to great lengths to lie about it. We are not called to gratuitous disrespect for those in authority, quite the contrary. We are to render to them their due, pray for them, and submit to their authority as they exercise it in accordance with God’s will. But at all times, rulers and authorities remain fallen creatures capable of great and dark sin. …Remember that injustice is the abuse of power by the strong over the weak. …Protecting those who are vulnerable usually means bringing a countervailing power to bear on their behalf. …Incidents of injustice are not just something that happen in an unfair world. God is appalled by them and calls us to seek justice.” Gary Haugen

“Your princes plot conspiracies just as lions stalk their prey.
They devour innocent people, seizing treasures and extorting wealth.
They make many widows in the land.
Your priests have violated my instructions and defiled my holy things.
…Your leaders are like wolves who tear apart their victims.
They actually destroy people’s lives for money!
And your prophets cover up for them by announcing false visions
and making lying predictions.
They say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign Lord,’
when the Lord hasn’t spoken a single word to them.
Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy,
and deprive foreigners of justice.
‘I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land
… but I found no one. So now … I will heap on their heads
the full penalty for all their sins.
I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!’
Ezekiel 25:25-31

Moving From Head to Heart

  • When you look around, do you see political and religious leaders abusing their power?
  • What do you think God feels about this happening in his world?
  • What, if anything, do you think God wants you to do about it?

Abba, help us bring a countervailing power to bear on behalf of the vulnerable.

For More: Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen
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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Gluttonous Insecurity (Mark Buchanan and Thomas Merton)

“Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.” Thomas Merton

“Some of the most gifted people I’ve met are also some of the most broken. Their giftedness has not led them to a place of serenity and thankfulness…[instead] it’s led them to barrenness: fretting, blaming, self-pity, envy, accusation… My giftedness – modest as it is – has fed my insecurity more times than it has helped me vanquish it. I rarely rejoice in the times I think I have spoken or written well. It produces in me something more akin to panic: Can I do it again? Did I really do it then? If I’m doing well, why don’t more people say so? What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with me? In quietness and rest is your salvation, God says. But we want to flee and amass horses, chariots, accolades, pats on the back – just about anything to bolster our sense of security and worthiness. But none of those things can. All they do is send us scurrying in the opposite direction. They just widen the hole we want them to fill. Like gluttony, insecurity’s appetite increases with every bite.” Mark Buchanan

“The reason we never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with God is that we so seldom acknowledge our utter nothingness before him.” … “Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper but only his child redeemed by Christ.” … “God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness. And to laugh, after all at  the preposterous ideas of ‘worthiness’.”  Thomas Merton

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies.
Who then is the one who condemns?
No one.”
Romans 8:33

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you insecure? Do you need to think well of yourself?
  • Do you depend on the respect of others for your “sense of … worthiness?”
  • Have you entered into “the deepest reality [of your] utter nothingness” before God? Have you “surrendered yourself with all your sinfulness to God … [who sees] only his child redeemed by Christ?”

Abba, if I have you, I will want for nothing – and I have you.

For More: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: A Dialogue of Love That Never Stops (Thomas Merton and Elizabeth of the Trinity)

“This is the real end of meditation – it teaches you how to become aware of the presence of God; and most of all it aims at bringing you to a state of almost constant loving attention to God, and dependence on Him. [It teaches] …a man how to work himself free of created things and temporal concerns, in which he finds only confusion and sorrow, and enter into a conscious and loving contact with God….” Thomas Merton

“I love to penetrate beyond the veil of the soul to this inner sanctuary where we live alone with God. He wants us entirely to himself, and is making there within us a cherished solitude. Listen to everything that is being sung … in his heart. It is Love, the infinite love that envelops us and desires to give us a share … in all his blessedness. The whole Blessed Trinity dwells in us, the whole of that mystery which will be our vision in heaven. Let it be our cloister. You tell me that your life is passed there. So is mine. I am ‘Elizabeth of the Trinity’ – Elizabeth disappearing, losing herself, allowing herself to be invaded by the Three. Let us live for love, always surrendered, immolating ourselves at every moment, by doing God’s will without searching for extraordinary things. Then let us make ourselves quite tiny, allowing ourselves to be carried, like a babe in it’s mother’s arms, by him who is our all…. In the morning let us wake in Love. All day long let us surrender ourselves to Love, by doing the will of God, under his gaze, with him, in him, for him alone…. And then, when evening comes, after a dialogue of love that has never stopped in our hearts, let us go to sleep still in love. And if we are aware of any faults, let us simply abandon them to Love, which is a consuming fire….” Elizabeth of the Trinity

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine….”
Song of Solomon 6:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine giving “constant loving attention to God?  … living a day under (and aware of) his gaze?
  • What are you doing to become more aware of God’s presence in your day? …to become less aware of “temporal concerns?” … to be better at “attending” to him?
  • Can you simply abandon yourself and your faults to Love?

Abba, before I die, may I experience at least one day under your gaze, with you, in you alone, where a dialogue of love between us never stops.

For More: Voices of the Saints by Bert Bhezzi

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Complicated Work of Compassion (Pema Chödrön)

“Compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others. …To relate with others compassionately is a challenge. Really communicating to the heart and being there for someone else … means not shutting down on that person, which means, first of all, not shutting down on ourselves … allowing ourselves to feel what we feel and not pushing it away …accepting every aspect of ourselves, even the parts we don’t like. To do this requires openness…. Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open space where we’re not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly. Recently I was talking with an old man who has been living on the streets for the last four years. Nobody ever looks at him. No one ever talks to him. Maybe somebody gives him a little money, but nobody ever looks in his face and asks him how he’s doing. The feeling that he doesn’t exist for other people, the sense of loneliness and isolation, is intense. He reminded me that the essence of compassionate speech or compassionate action is to be there for people, without pulling back in horror or fear or anger. …if we are people who want to help others … something we soon notice is that the person we set out to help may trigger unresolved issues in us. …We find ourselves hating those people or scared of them or feeling like we just can’t handle them. …Sooner or later, all our own unresolved issues will come up; we’ll be confronted with ourselves. …But that, in a nutshell, is how it works. If we find ourselves unworkable and give up on ourselves, then we’ll find others unworkable and give up on them. What we hate in ourselves, we’ll hate in others. To the degree that we have compassion for ourselves, we will also have compassion for others. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.”

“Praise Yahweh, my soul
who redeems your life from the pit    
and crowns you with love and compassion….”
Psalm 103:2-4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you respond with “horror, fear or anger” to a homeless person?
  • Can you admit those feelings and ask God to make for you a “non-judgmental space?”
  • Do you sometimes fail to “see, hear and feel who others really are?”

Abba, help me with compassion.

For More: When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God. – Bill

Daily Riches: Jesus Is … (Tim Keller)

Jesus is
.
…the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.
…the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.
…the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.
…the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. …
…the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
…the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
…the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant. …
…the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.
…the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
…the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people. …
…the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us.
…the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.” Tim Keller

“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith.”
Hebrews 12:1,2

Moving From Head to Heart

  • When you think about the very essence of your faith, do you automatically think of Jesus, or something else, like Bible doctrine, or the church?
  • When you’re helping someone desperate do you make clear how limited we humans are to help, and the unlimited ability of Jesus?
  • Are you “fixing your eyes on Jesus?” What does that mean in the course of a regular day?

Abba, again and again, thank you for your son.

For More: Jesus the King by Tim Keller

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Do Protestants Need to Repent? (Richard Rohr and Marcus Borg)

“Neither [Catholics or Protestants have] really let the Word of God guide their lives. …If Catholics need to be converted, Protestants need to do penance. Their shout of “sola Scriptura” (only Scripture) has left them at the mercy of their own cultures, their own limited education, their own prejudices, and their own selective reading of some texts while avoiding others. It has become laughable, as slavery, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia have lasted authoritatively into our time – by people who claim to love Jesus! I think they need to do penance for what they have often done with the Bible! They largely interpreted the Bible in a very individualistic and otherworldly way. It was an evacuation plan for the next world – and just for their group. Most of Evangelical Protestantism has no cosmic message, no social message, and little sense of social justice or care for the outsider. Both Catholics and Protestants (Orthodox, too!) found a way to do our own thing while posturing friendship with Jesus.” Richard Rohr*

“Those of my university students who have grown up outside of the church (about half of them) have a very negative stereotypical view of Christianity. When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity, they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted.” Marcus Borg

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love,
I am nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you see “racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia” in yourself? …in others at church? Do you hear these evils addressed from the pulpit?
  • Are you “anti-intellectual, self-righteous, [or] judgmental?” Does your church culture encourage curiosity and learning, humility, and the practice of unconditional love towards outsiders and those who are different? Is your church a welcoming, safe place for anyone who comes?
  • Are you part of the solution or the problem in your church? What about the leaders in your church, are they part of the solution or the problem? What can change?

Abba, thank you for working through your church, in spite of many things. Please make us more like your Son.

For More: Yes, And by Richard Rohr

*Don’t worry, yesterday we looked at Catholics!

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Do Catholics Need to be Converted? (Richard Rohr and Dallas Willard)

“Neither [Catholics or Protestants have] really let the Word of God guide their lives. Catholics need to be converted to giving the Scriptures some actual authority in their lives. Luther wasn’t wrong when he said that most Catholics did not read the Bible. Most Catholics are still not that interested in the Bible…. I have been a priest for 42 years now, and I would sadly say that most Catholics would rather hear quotes from saints, Popes, and bishops, the current news, or funny stories, if they are to pay attention. If I quote strongly from the Sermon on the Mount, they are almost throwaway lines. I can see Catholics glaze over because they have never read the New Testament, much less studied it, or been guided by it. I am very sad to have to admit this. It is the Achilles heel of much of the Catholic world, priests included. …Both Catholics and Protestants (Orthodox too!) found a way to do their own thing while posturing friendship with Jesus.” Richard Rohr*

“…relationship with God, as with any person, soon requires a contribution from us, which will largely consist of study [of the Word of God]. Calvin Miller well remarks: ‘Mystics without study are only spiritual romantics who want relationship without effort.’ …We not only read and hear and inquire, but we meditate on what comes before us; that is, we withdraw into silence where we prayerfully and steadily focus upon it. In this way its meaning for us can emerge and form us as God works in the depths of our heart, mind, and soul.” Dallas Willard

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you perhaps guilty of “posturing friendship with Jesus” (just going through the motions), or are you making a real effort to cultivate a “relationship” with God?
  • Do you routinely make time for God to “work in the depths of your heart, mind, and soul” through his Word?
  • Are you part of the solution or the problem in your church? The leaders in your church – are they part of the solution or the problem? What can change?

Abba, thank you for working through your church, in spite of many things. Please revive your church.

For More: Yes, And by Richard Rohr

*Don’t worry, tomorrow we look at the Protestants!

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Concentric Circles of Compassion (Gary Haugen)

“In my natural state my capacity for compassion and love begins with me and proceeds out (or not) to various concentric circles of human relationships with a decreasing fervency. I have a lot of compassion for my family, but by the time my compassion gets out to the remotest concentric circle where people in strange, faraway countries live, I usually don’t have much left. Granted, this is quite understandable. The limitations of my mind, let alone the limitations of my heart, do not allow me to embrace everyone in the world in the same way that God does…. While this is quite natural and quite human, it is not particularly godly …the extent to which our compassion extends beyond our immediate circle is the extent to which we are loving more like God and less like our carnal selves. While we can never love the broad world as God does … we can at least agree on the ideal toward which we should seek to grow. …I believe [God] understands our tendency to [have compassion for those closest to us] but is probably eager for us to reach out, as we are able (or as we seek his enabling), beyond our carnal limitations, prejudices, cultural mythologies and convenient stereotypes. Jesus calls us to be witnesses of his love, truth, salvation, compassion and justice ‘in Jerusalem [at home], and in all Judea and Samaria [nearby], and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8) …this is the unique, biblical hope that Christians can offer to a world groaning under the heartache of injustice and oppression: God has compassion on the victims of injustice all over the world, among all people, without favor or distinction. We will, through our acts of compassion, give witness to our belief that what the Bible says is true, or not.” Gary Haugen

“If you love those who love you …
Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”
Jesus in Matthew 5:46

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Does your love transcend “what is quite natural?” Is it becoming more like God’s love?
  • Do you move outward, practicing love in more remote “circles?”
  • Can you identify “prejudices, cultural mythologies and convenient stereotypes” you’ve been using as excuses for not moving outward in love?
  • Does your life testify to the justice of God?

Abba, let me be a force for love in this world.

For More: Good News About Justice by Gary Haugen

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Good Friday and Embracing Endings (Pete Scazzero and Parker Palmer)

“On Good Friday we remember that at the cross Jesus wipes away our sins, becoming a global magnet that draws the whole world to Himself. Good Friday also reminds me that embracing endings (deaths) and new beginnings (resurrections) is the pattern of life for every Christian. Nothing new takes place without an ending. A real ending – a final death – often feels like disintegration, falling apart, a coming undone. It feels that way because that is what death is. It is an ending that requires walking through a completely dark tunnel, not knowing when or if any light will come again. If we embrace these losses for the severe mercies they are, God does a profound work in us and through us in ways that are similar to what the apostle Paul describes as “death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Cor. 4:12). As a person who tends to resist accepting the necessity of endings, I consistently do four things to keep me on track:

  • I face the brutal facts of situations where things are going badly and ask hard questions, even when everything inside me prefers to distract myself or flee.
  • I remind myself not to follow my feelings during these times of embracing endings as a death.
  • I talk with seasoned mentors who are older and more experienced, asking for their perspective and wisdom.

I ask myself two questions: What is it time to let go of in my personal life and in my leadership? What new thing might be standing backstage waiting to make its entrance in my personal life and in my leadership? This second question especially encourages me to move beyond my fears, reminding me that God has something good for me in the future – even though I may not see any hints of what that might be. Parker Palmer sums it up well: ‘On the spiritual journey…each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is to stop pounding on the door just closed, turn around – which puts the door behind us – and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls.’” Pete Scazzero

“death is at work in us”
2 Corinthians 4:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you “embrace losses for the severe mercies they are?”
  • Can you trust that God still has something good for you when that “door” closes?
  • Can you wait well in the in between time, instead of acting out in some destructive way?

Abba, help me trust in your love when I experience the darkness of endings.

For More: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero

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I appreciate your interest in Daily Riches! Please share! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Make Room for Cursing Saints (Miroslav Volf and Philip Yancey)

“For the followers of the crucified Messiah, the main message of the imprecatory Psalms is this: rage belongs before God – not in the reflectively managed and manicured form of a confession, but as a pre-reflective outburst from the depths of the soul. This is no mere cathartic discharge of pent up aggression before the Almighty who ought to care. Much more significantly, by placing unattended rage before God we place both our unjust enemy and our own vengeful self face to face with a God who loves and does justice. Hidden in the dark chambers of our hearts and nourished by the system of darkness, hate grows and seeks to infest everything with its hellish will to exclusion. In the light of the justice and love of God, however, hate recedes and the seed is planted for the miracle of forgiveness.” Miroslav Volf

“I see the cursing psalms as an important model for how to deal with evil and injustice. I should not try to suppress my reaction of horror and outrage at evil. Nor should I try to take justice in my own hands. Rather, I should deliver those feelings, stripped bare, to God. As the books of Job, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk clearly show, God has a high threshold of tolerance for what is appropriate to say in a prayer. God can ‘handle’ my unsuppressed rage. I may well find that my vindictive feelings need God’s correction – but only by taking those feelings to God will I have that opportunity for correction and healing.” Philip Yancey

“Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.”
Psalm 137:8,9

“Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord …
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart …
See if there is any offensive way in me….
Psalm 139:21-24

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you feel free to bring your “unsuppressed rage” to God? your “pre-reflective outburst?”
  • What good could possibly come from that?
  • How could failing to bring it actually be a bad thing?

Abba, help me to trust that you’re able to handle my rage, and teach me to bring it.

For More: Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: The Religion of Women, Children and Slaves (Kathleen Norris)

“Political power seems to corrupt religions, corroding them from within. It may be that as they age, and gain respectability in the social sphere, religions need to be brought back to the essentials of their faith and practice. It may even be that religions are at their best when they are being oppressed, or when their followers are marginalized in the culture. A new book Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt, provides a glimpse into the history of the Baptist and Methodist churches at a critical time when a choice was made between marginalization and acceptance into the mainstream. The rabble-rousing Baptist and Methodist preachers who roamed the American south in the eighteenth century were radical … [in that they had] a vision of the church as a place where the distinctions of race, gender, and class were all but obliterated by the Holy Spirit. Many prevailed upon slave owners to free their slaves, and they defended the right of any person, black or white, male or female, educated or illiterate, to give public witness to their faith by speaking in church. By the early nineteenth century, however, these socially unpopular positions had provoked considerable tension and even scandal within Southern culture, and the churches faced a drop in membership. One churchman of the era is quoted by Christine Heyrman, the book’s author, as saying that ‘they could not rest content with a religion that was the faith of women, children, and slaves.” Kathleen Norris

“Preach the word … correct, rebuke and encourage –
with great patience and careful instruction.”
2 Timothy 4:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your church take positions that are “socially unpopular?” If so, is it in a “radical” sense, insisting on Biblical values in spite of popular political or sacred religious convictions to the contrary?
  • Does a desire to be “respectable” prevent this? Can your church be “marginalized” and still effective for God?
  • Would church leadership speak out in this way even if it might mean “a drop in membership?” …or some form of “oppression?” Would the people tolerate it? Would you?
  • In many ways the church of Jesus is one of “women, children, and slaves.” Can you “rest content” with this, not only in theory, but as it manifests itself in your church?

Jesus, deliver us from the need for respectability.

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”