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goodbyes

29 Jun
our first grade Priscilla…
… and our to be five year old Liv

with our grandchildren in Tampa this last week of June 2021, I showed Priscilla’s picture above to grand daughter Liv. Her response these days,

‘Goodbye to by past self’ and Grandma’s Priscilla’s response to our Liv, ‘ goodbye to my present self.’

It is good, a good practice to say ‘goodbye’ – yes – to presents and pasts; to previous selfs and present, momentary ones.

It is good to say ‘goodbyes.’

so, I could not

23 Jun

speak at Harry Jones MBC NYCanointing as pastor; I was to be away with family, but yet, I sent this to him today..

Friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ – All – Greetings this

Blessed day; a day of a new beginnings. For Manhattan Bible Church a home grown, a loved leader has been called to pastor this church. Harry Jones today is called by your, by my by all’s Master Shepherd. He is called by you; by his family and by his heart. He is called first, by his heart that has always been centred on Jesus. And, Yet, yet… he is yours and you are his by these heart callings. Harry Jones has especially been called by Jesus to shepherd here, here, at Manhattan Bible Church.

Harry’s qualifications and gifting to shepherd are numerous, and the closing of Psalm 78: verses 70 -72, a Maskil of Asaph describes the essential gifting of a shepherd,

70 

He chose David his servant

    and took him from the sheepfolds;

71 

from following the nursing ewes he brought him

    to shepherd Jacob his people,

    Israel his inheritance.

72 

With upright heart he shepherded them

    and guided them with his skilful hand.

As David, Harry Jones has performed the primary role of a shepherd, he was among the sheep. Harry has been alongside you all in the sheepfold. You know him: he knows you.

Second, next, Harry has been brought to this pastoring by Jesus. You are God’s people, his ewes, his inheritance . ( Think of this for a moment: we are God’s inheritance. Wow. ) And He has entrusted you to Harry. So … why?

Because of these next two qualities, these next two giftings:

Harry has a pure, an upright heart. A heart of integrity. This is how Harry sees and feels

He has a put, a loving heart. Harry feels for you, for me, for all. With humble empathy he loves. His love for Joveda, his four daughters, for the hurting and the joyful mirrors David’s shepherd’s heart. His work as an Elder, as a Bible teacher, as a youth leader illustrates his familia love.

Finally, Harry Jones has a ‘skillful hand.’ His two hands act as one: he holds; feels; clings and loves. Harry shows this quality by his love for teaching, holding and loving God’s word. His has put himself through seminary, has sat with elders and is sitting listening to the word.

Harry will not let go. He will not let go of the word or his church; his family or his friends; the saved and the hurting unsaved. Harry Jones is His shepherd for his inheritance, MBC. They will hold you, love and shepherd you. Harry and Jesus will hold.

He loves you. Pastor Harry has a love that will hold.

Bless the Lord.

cake, June 6th

6 Jun

priscilla’s 6 June b day

6 Jun
as a little girl
with her Matthew Bible study present
at ny botanical gardens ( with me )
with her friend, Matteo

Above are some images from Priscilla’s birthday ( more will follow )

file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/00/00/FA4062C8-9ED1-439A-AC11-56BF5524B911/IMG_2988.HEIC

file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/99/09/E9440C20-FFEC-4237-A40B-0C039F84A53A/IMG_2989.HEIC

remembrance, Joey

31 May

Joey always wanted to be a soldier, a Green Beret. When we adopted him in his 14th year, we heard his desire to graduate high school; enlist as soon as possible and grow into a USA army officer.


But we talked him into trying college, Houghton College in Upstate New York, for a year. He met his wife, Rachel, there; marries at 20 and they separated at 21.
Called up to a formation exercise while station at Fort Bragg, NC, Joey drove in the 5 am deep darkness of 10 May 1996, took a turn on a curve road by a creek in a borrowed car, overturned into the creek’s waters and drowned.
He was almost 22.


He never fought in a conflict for his country; he owned a home in North Carolina that was two weeks from foreclosure; nor did he have many male army friends. He was truly alone.


When I met with Joey’s commanding officer, it was to pick up his body. I was in North Carolina with his mother Priscilla, my wife, and Rachel, the wife he was separated from. His commander told me, ‘Corporal Johansen was just young and angry. He would have grown out of it in time.’
Time, the one gift that might assist in Joey’s life, I could not give him. I gave him what I thought would heal, at least help in healing, of his physical hurts, his sexual abuse, his life addictions and pains.
A car; ( a prime condition Cutlass Supreme ) and a home; a leather jacket and a college education; a wedding and 3 adoring younger sisters ( one of them, Deirdra, named her second son ‘Johansen’ in Hero’s middle name ).

Hero Johansen.


When I reached the Funeral Home to retrieve Joey’s body to return to his NYC home, I was alone with his Commander. Priscilla and Rachel did not go with us as they were unsure what Joey’s body would look like.
They were hurting.

So was I. Unsure of the damages.


The Funeral Director greeted us. A woman of about 30, she lead us to Joey’s room. Before I entered, she paused and said ‘You can go in by yourself first if you like, to have a private, personal moment.’

I paused. The Commander nodded agreeing with her suggestion. Moving toward the closed door, I stopped and turned to the Director, and asked,

‘Pardon, but have have never met a woman Funeral Director before. How did you come to this profession?’

She smiled, ‘I know it is unusual. Three years ago by baby girl, Sara, died suddenly, unexpectedly. I could find no peace. Not in church or in counselling; not with friends or family. The worship at my church was beautiful but loud. I couldn’t sit still. I needed quiet. I started attending a Roman Catholic service, the Mass. I found the quiet helpful. Peaceful. And I felt God speaking to me one day in church,

“‘ Now you can help others to rest.’“


‘And so I opened this Funeral home. A home for the hurting….can I tell you something? I never do this, but I feel I need to tell you. When I was fixing your son’s body, I felt as though there was a lot of anger, hate, in him. But as I moved him, I felt his hurts, his angers, leaving him. And that he was at piece.’

I said thank you and went in alone. His body had not a scratch on him. He was knocked unconscious and drowned in the waters. He felt at rest. Peace.

Some soldiers fight in both outside and internal wars. But all struggle with the internal. All.

This Memorial Day I remember Joey. He struggled; he fought; he lost and won. But at the end, his very end, God gifted him peace, release. Healing. I had not adopted Joey; I could not give him peace. God did. Jesus did.

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” 1 John 5: 11

the Lord God counsels, – thus, speak to me, my Lord from Job 38,

18 May


Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that obscures my plans

with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you ….

We do not know how long Job suffered; or sat in ashes; or how long he suffered alone and with his friends. It could have been a week. Or longer.

Job 7:3 states, “I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me.”

So, how long? How long did Job wait to hear from his God? In suffering? Are these metaphorical months, or actual ones? We don’t know. Except, we do know that this waiting that whatever the time was, we know it must have seemed an eternity. An eternity of suffering, an eternity of time…
And in a moment, He speaks; the Lord speaks wisdom, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”

The Lord’s plans have not been spoken in words to Job; He has spoked though in every specific moment and event, every action and pain of Job’s sitting in time’s ashes.
David, as priest and prophet, sings in Psalm 16: 7 – “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”


Here, the Lord’s counsel is defined. All moments, even those of sleep, has the Lord touching and speaking in and to our hearts. How do we know He speaks, counsels?

Because, as David, when we awake praise Him; sing a song to Him; feel and know Him through all he allows, places and acts in our lives. We feel him.


Out of life’s whirlwinds, He speaks, whispers, shouts and moves.

So, we pray,
“Help me not to darken your counsel, your words, movements, acts and seemingly silences, with my questions, my doubts. Help me to hold onto to all you place within and without my heart. Counsel me my Lord.”

Counsel me

a touch, before Joseph’s passing, life, from the Lord touches

3 May
from Genesis 50


22 ‘Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.’

On Sunday 2 May the news show 60 minutes had a doctor speak about why he fought so hard and long with the American government to reveal the seriousness of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Carter Mecher stated in response to John Dickerson’s question: “Michael ( Lewis ) writes that all of you are motivated by your, your love of life. Do you agree with that characterization?

Dr. Carter Mecher: My training was in critical care medicine, so I operated ICUs. And in an ICU, what I got to see and what I got to witness was the final struggle for a lotta human beings. I got to see the last, last days, last weeks, last moments of a lot of people. And, you know, in sports they talk about, you know (emotional) – sorry. They talk about, like, you know, players leaving it all on the field. And you know when I would see these patients in the ICU, I would watch them in that struggle. And they left everything on the field, everything. And you know, my question for us is, almost 600,000 people in this country have left everything on the field. And the question is, have we?”

Joseph answers the doctor’s question.

Joseph of Genesis, betrayed and rejected by his family; enslaved and in- prisoned within a foreign people, Egyptians; rescues all. He rescues, as a trope of Christ Jesus, Egyptians and his family Israel; himself and the world; his earthy father Jacob, and his future descendants.
Joseph leaves all on his field, his world of famine. And in doing so, so rescues. How?

He rescues by touch and forgiveness you, me, all. Joseph left nothing, leaves nothing on the field.


In these days of Zoom, where we long for community; for face to face moments and experiences, where we desire to remove our masks, Joseph feels his great grand children on his body, his knees.
He feels here the enduring, eternal, everlasting arms of our Lord, the promise of a personal life with the Saviour Jesus to come, on his knees as he rests.
And he will return home.

What joy. How loved. Touched, Joseph lives.

every….

27 Apr

https://unsplash.com/photos/eMX1aIAp9Nw

I have always ( please note ‘all ways’ ) hated the global language of ‘all and every and never.’ Today, this day, after multiple silences, betrayals, rejections and overlooks, I embrace their, these, touches, these words. I embrace because all of these global negative words, even the seemingly positive ones ( I would never hurt you like … I will always be there for you ) have the inescapable promise of disappointment and overlooking, of unseeing. Yet, Jesus promises—

Revelation 7:9 ‘After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,…’

Palm Sunday is now is everyday. A welcoming; an embracing…. a loving.

Jesus here promises that all will come; all will stand in love; all will be as one. For this to happen,

He will heal every wound

Kiss away all resentments and self pities

Gently salve all physical brokenness

He will wipe away all, every, all tears

He is the one and only, the all in all, who will always embrace and love.

Jesus is all, my all, yours. He is for, with, every one.

He heals in love.

All.

come, to me

20 Apr

Joseph, after being favoured by his father Jacob; after being beaten, robbed by his brothers in an empty well; sold as a slave; unjustly imprisoned; and made by Pharaoh the chief steward of all Egypt, Joseph has his brothers come unknowingly to him for salvation.

He devises a series of plans to bring his youngest brother Benjamin, the loved son who never never leaves his father’s side, Joseph’s only full blooded brother, to Joseph’s Egyptian side.

But plans change. Joseph changes. Hearing Judah describe how Jacob/Israel would die if the brothers return to their father without the beloved Benjamin, Joesph changes. How?

The leader, the planner and controller of Egypt and the known world, breaks down. He cries out in anguish over his plan. He cries out I need for a family. He cries out openly, vulnerable, to those who betrayed him. In this particular moment, when Joseph’ s plan to keep Benjamin close to about to come to pass, Joseph sees the big picture: Joseph sees the eternal plan of Yahweh- Joseph sees God.

At this emotional moment Joseph sees both the specific and the eternal; his brothers as they were and how the Lord intends them to be: embraced and forgiven. Loved…

from Genesis 45

‘Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.’

The brothers, not yet changed as Joseph, cannot speak separated by silence, Joesph continues,

4 ‘Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.’

Joseph sees and understands God’s eternal plan: deliverance, rescue. so…

8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay.”

God’s eternal plan to for Joesph, for you, for me, for all to invite all betrayers, our failed lovers, to come. Personally we are to speak and invite. With the uttered ‘to me’ the specific become eternal, personal.

Joseph’s one desire to for those who have left him for dead, who placed him in forgotten years of slavery, who never, ever loved him, Joseph’s heart asks them to come close, come down. And this request, this forgiveness, is personal, open with total vulnerability, as two words repeat with come here: to me. To me….

And the brothers came and wept with Joseph. Forgiven, they can cry love.

Today, Lord, help me to ask those who do not see, those who do not love, those who have forgotten me to come close.

Help me to forgive. Come. Do not delay. Come.

worry, worries; the sower of, and the seed

16 Apr

The Parable of the Sower

His word

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Jesus leaves words, as seeds, for the hearers’ hearts. But first they must be, must desire to hear. Those who refuse to hear; those who use silences as weapons; those who place their words within Jesus’ – these are not hearers or sowers of words, of Jesus’ seed. Alone; in very poor soil, the seed does.

But the disciples want to hear, go deeper. In private they ask for the parable’s meanings.

As one of these desiring disciples, I hear of the seed among thorns. Here is Jesus’ explanation of soil with thorns,

22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Worries choke.

So, my worries, stop by, his breathes. They choke.

My fear of my failing, – my poor choices, my hurtful past and future actions are embedded worries about relationships with people. These worries cost me daily in my relationship with God.

My worries and concerns choke my relationship with Him, with Jesus.

how can I produce good soil?

Hear; ask; receive; sit with His word.

Be a hearer of Jesus.