What Risk is This?


“The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”  Genesis 12:1

“Some time later God tested Abraham, He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”” Genesis 22:1-2


An angel appears to Mary and announces Mary’s pregnancy. Mary responds: “Here am I”, said Mary; “I’m the Lord’s servant-girl. Let it happen to me as you’ve said.” Luke 1: 38


God says “Go,” and Abram, not a perfect man, goes.

Imagine being told to dig up your roots, leave your familiar surroundings and that you will be told later where you are going. Now imagine going with your first-born son, your flesh and blood and a surety of God’s promise to Abraham, to the region of Moriah and being told that your son is the sacrifice to God. Abraham is told, basically, to go outside the box he had contained God in- his hopes in his pride of place and first-born. Abraham with “Here-I-am” -outside-the-box faith obeys God and God blesses Abraham. “Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way.” Genesis 24:1

God says to Mary, not a perfect woman, that she will be the one to bear the Savior. She responds with her permission. Later, at Zechariah’s house, Elizabeth sees Mary and shouts at the top of her voice: “Of all women, you’re the blessed one!” One could speculate that before the angel’s news, Mary had thought her life was, well, pretty much boxed in.


The boxes people put God in are not big enough for God’s blessing. So, instead of stretching the box, God stretches the person so that they come to see that no box can hold all they know about God.


Throughout Israel’s and Christianity’s history there are many accounts of where God has said, in effect, “Go to a new place with me” and a personal risk is taken.  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the disciples, Peter, Paul, to name just a few. You are not alone in the history of risk-taking or in the moving out of safe-spaces.

Imagine if those who were told to go and those who were led by God to go didn’t go? How would your life be different today? Or, did you think that once you arrived on earth nothing had gone on before you arrived that would have any bearing on your life? There are many today who see themselves this way. They have their “history” and their “truth”.

If you have read the Old Testament you found that the history of Israel is the story of God moving his chosen people through space-time. The Israelites moved from country to country, to slavery, to the land of “milk and honey”, to exile and back home again. They are moved to be tested, refined and blessed. They were moved so that they would realize that God is sovereign and omnipresent – there is no place you can go that God isn’t there. They are being moved so that they will realize that God is the beginning and ending of their journey. They are being told to “Go” so that they will find that God is God and that God is good.


Risk taking is going, moving and forgetting what is behind.


The pattern of risk taking, testing and blessing occurs over and over in Scripture. God says, “Go” and when people go to a new place with God they are both tested and blessed.

Risk takes us places we never thought we’d go. Risk takes us to new places within God’s space-time and to the farthest extent of God’s promises. Risk takes us to new places within God’s character. The risk-taker decides to remove himself from the comfort of his self-storage home and from the false gods he has stored in his mini self-storage so that blessing will be gained.


The God who created probabilistic quantum mechanics is going to take you places where you can’t determine your position or the acceleration of your movement at the same time. Because of that you begin to take your eyes off your circumstances and look at the Cosmological Constant. You are being taught that God’s outcome will be good because He is good. There is a 100 percent probability that God is good. You just need to find this out through risk-taking.

Nature has a way of saying “Go”. The wise men, experts in early astronomy and most likely from Persia, took a major risk. They traveled 800-900 miles following “a star coming out of Jacob.” Herod was not happy at all that the wise men left without detailing the location of his greatest fear — a newborn king. So, Herod slaughtered innocent children.


“Get up. Go to the place I will show you. The risk is all mine and I am good with that.”

“Here I am.”

What is Faith?


“Let all things be done decently and in order” I Corinthians 14:40


The above verse was repeated so often by my father that it became a joking family rejoinder to whatever was askew at the moment.

My Dutch grandparents epitomized the verse. Their tiny two-bedroom bungalow in Bellwood, Illinois was immaculate. The bungalow’s smaller yard was well-manicured and well-guarded by a chain link fence against intruders of all kinds including rabbits that munched on Marigolds.

My father, before I was born, left the Dutch Christian Reformed church and what he considered its old-country austerity, an austerity that seemed to be reinforced by his hot-tempered foul-mouthed truck-driving father, who “cleaned up” for the Sunday Morning service.

My Swedish grandparents and my mother belonged to a Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church in the Andersonville area of Chicago were they also lived. Like Dutch immigrants, Swedish immigrants were very concerned about cleanliness and presenting a proper and well-kept image to their neighbors. These two immigrant groups were thrilled to be in the New World. The Old World had become too unyielding to make a decent living.

At one point my parents met (in a decent and orderly fashion, of course) and my father aligned himself for a time with the church my mom attended. They would soon marry and later attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. That is when and where I was born. The word became flesh and was placed in a crib over a Chinese take-out restaurant.

Fast forward to eleven years after my birth and I am sitting in a Bible church hearing the Four Spiritual Laws for the thousandth time, during a Vacation Bible School assembly. I decided then and there that I would ask Jesus into my heart. My friend did so at the same time. We both received a new Bible after we came forward. The New Bible was the draw for me at the time. A kid will take anything that is free, except peas and carrots.


Now, why am I telling you this? Everything in life emerges from relationship. Everything!


When someone considers God, they view God through a lens of their worldview or weltanschauung. Most, I suspect, view God through the relationship they have or have had with their parents. The parental relationship may be one of ‘happily ever after’ or one of rancor, division and divorce. A child’s view of God may become skewed when only one parent cares for him or her and the other parent is out of the picture most of the time or all of the time.

The person considering God may also have their view of God reinforced by whatever authority is in their lives, whether it be benevolent or malevolent. He or she may further view God as distant or absent or a non-issue. He or she may view God, as I believe most do, as himself or herself projected. Much of what is called social justice today is a projection of “what would Jesus as me do?” And, he or she may view God as “values-adjusted-God” to reflect one’s compromised ‘ethical’ life, as many Christians do.

But, what about God external to all rational thought and emotional bonding? Our limited minds, our limited reasoning can only summon the past to outline what it is we think we know in the present. And then such determination is a matter of interpretation, whether affixed on atheism or on theism. I suggest that relationship is key to knowing what it is you know and to what you don’t know. And yes, not knowing (meekness, teachableness) is a matter of acquiring humility in today’s Post-Enlightenment world. For a Christian worldview, holding rational thought, paradox and mystery in tension is, I believe, essential. Truth-seekers require both left and right brain hemispheres to be put to work. Why?

The Left-brain does not know what it does not know. The right-brain looks at the big picture and sees that there is mystery. It receives the paradox and supplies the left brain with context the Left-brain doesn’t see. The left brain sees detail and seeks certainty to manipulate the world. The right brain sees the big picture and hands off the context to the left brain for processing.

The Enlightenment has pushed thinking including the consideration of God, into the realm of black and white “certainty” and away from paradox and mystery, away from big questions. The media’s constant barrage of images, of ad-hoc fantasy overwhelms the right-brain, hindering its imagining of a cosmos greater than a tweet or 1440 x 2560 pixels.

Truly, the medium is a message evangelist. The perverse rapid-fire images that we view daily in anonymity enjoin us to paganism.

And as reflected, today’s Epicureans say the gods are distant and so I’ll surround myself with friends who will let say what my truth is and I’ll find sensate pleasure to offset any questions or concerns.

The many atheists (they call themselves “atheists”) I have engaged in conversations all at some point demand certainty. They will ask, “How can any rational mind accept that there is a God?” Well, a purely rational mind cannot know that there is a God. The Left-brain hemisphere will always seek certainty and never find it. The Left-brain hemisphere will always see fragmented pieces of data that mean nothing in themselves. The right-brain ‘sees’ the whole picture including what it doesn’t know and is OK with what it doesn’t know. The right-brain intuits that there is more that can be known while the left-brain balks at such ambiguity.

In my debates with atheists I say that I cannot prove that there is a God but that there is a very high probability that there is a God based on the design of Creation and the extreme fine-tuning of the universe. I mention the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity. All four finely adjusted constants make life on earth possible.

I go on to say that we only are aware of 5% of the universe and there is 95% of it that we don’t know about, including dark energy and dark matter.  I ask them that “if they can accept the mystery that light is both a wave and a particle why can’t they accept the mystery of a God beyond their understanding?” They are held in check for a moment. They expected me to “blather on about what the Bible says”.  I go on then to tell them that I have a personal relationship with the Infinite-Personal God that is reinforced by my reading of Scripture and my knowledge of the universe and prayer. (This is experiential knowledge that is at least equal to any atheist experiential knowledge). At this point, the atheist will often resort to calling me names and dismissing me out of hand. Out of these many conversations I have come to see that these same folks reject any notion of a relationship with God. Their worldview blocks all other light. So, I try to present a reasonable doubt for the case an atheist presents to me


I didn’t know it at the time but my eleven-year-old acceptance of Jesus would become an intimate relationship with Jesus. The big thrust in those days was to get saved and get your ticket to heaven and be ready to get raptured out of here. Sure, there was mention of Jesus as your personal Savior, but the personal part seemed to be that “Jesus died for you and you better behave before you leave this earth on the day of rejoicing”.

As I recall those days, the rigmarole surrounding being “saved” seemed artificial and trite. I heard the same salvation message week after week after week. I was starving for more than the reduction of the get-saved-and-get-the-hell-out-of-here salvation-gospel into 140 characters. As an eleven-year old the only big-ticket ‘certainty’ I had was the intuition that there was a Creator God who loved me. And, my intuition told me that the Eucharist was where to find the immediate reality of Jesus. After all of the twists and turns and sinful trajectories of my life I found a church where the Eucharist provided me the True Reality I sought.

Years later, I have learned to trust the Lord’s covenant faithfulness, which is the righteousness of (not from) God:

God’s covenant justice comes into operation through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah, for the benefit of all who have faith.” Romans 3:22

What is faith then?

I observe God working in my life daily and in the lives of others I pray for. I see and wonder at the intelligent design of the universe as unfolded over 14.8 billion years. Prayer, mediation and contemplation through music, art and literature informs and strengthens my relationship with the Lord. I hear God speaking to me. My worldview, once colored by projections, has become less opaque, less cloudy, as I am led by the Spirit.

You see, faith is an eye-opening relationship in the absence of logical certainty.


“I pray that the God of King Jesus our Lord, the father of glory, would give you, in your spirt, the gift of being wise, of seeing things people can’t normally see, because you are coming to know him, and to have the eyes of your inmost self opened to God’s light.” -the Apostle Paul writing to the churches around Ephesus, 1: 17


My parent’s life verse speaks of relationship, of covenantal faithfulness, of things working out decently and in order in God’s purview:

“We know in fact, that God works all things together for good to those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28


Open thou mine eyes

Open thou mine eyes and I shall see, Incline my heart and I shall desire, Order my steps and I shall walk In the ways of thy commandments.

Open thou mine eyes and I shall see, Incline my heart and I shall desire, Order my steps and I shall walk In the ways of thy commandments.

O Lord God, be thou to me a God And beside thee let there be none else, No other, nought else with thee. Vouchsafe to me to worship thee and serve thee According to thy commandments In truth of spirit, In reverence of body, In blessing of lips, In private and in public.


Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

Kingdom Continuum


“…how constant, how divine,

this song of ours will rise…”

-David Crowder’s “O Praise Him”


The Anglican church I attend will be celebrating one-hundred and fifty years of Kingdom Life in 2018. Preparations are being made by the rectors and vestry to tell the narrative of this faith community. A cloud of witnesses will oversee the events.

Chapel & Cemetery ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Chapel & Cemetery ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Reflecting on the Kingdom of God several years ago I came to the understanding, with the help of the writings of Pauline Scholar N.T. Wright, that the Kingdom of God on earth is here and now. The Kingdom was inaugurated by Jesus when he walked this earth. Why mention this?

As I walk around on Resurrection ground I am reminded that I walk on the same earth as all the saints from all nations who have gone on before me. Their lives and their faith in God’s covenant faithfulness have made it possible for me to have faith in 2016.  The organism of their faith now lives in me.

Now, I could consider myself an Enlightened person who needs nothing and no one but reason and self but then I would shrink myself into a private rather than a public form of consciousness – a community of one, isolated and where the sacred is eschewed and nihilism offers nothing. Rather, I chose this continuum of faith and have identified myself with it. This continuum has, in turn, given me an identity, through baptism. I placed myself in the waters of the Kingdom Continuum.

Our faith community’s coming together to participate in ages old ritual is with the knowledge that we are under judgement. We must recite what we know to be true about God and about ourselves.

We come together in the liturgy.  The Celebrant starts…

“Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit…Almighty God, unto all hearts are open…Hear what the Lord Jesus Christ said:  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Our Kingdom community, in worship of the One True God, recites The Gloria. Together we hear sacred texts read. Together we recite the ancient Nicene Creed. Together we participate in the Prayers of the People. Together we kneel accepting judgement.  Together we confess – say the same thing about our sin as God does – and then hear the words of absolution. We rise to extend God’s Kingdom peace through a handshake or an embrace of the other.

The Eucharist – the Feast of Thanksgiving – is a rite commanded by The One who said “Do this…” and “I’m telling you a solemn truth. If you don’t eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Anyone who feasts upon my flesh and drinks my blood has the life of God’s coming age, and I will raise them up on the last day. My flesh is true drink and my blood true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I remain in him. Just as the living father sent me, and I live because of the father, so the one who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven; it isn’t like bread which the ancestors ate, and died. The one who eats this bread will share the life of God’s new age.” The Word became flesh and the Kingdom Continuum becomes sustainable.

We come together knowing that we stand under judgement but also knowing that there is One of us whose sacrificial death pronounces us restored.  This inversion, our Lord’s sacrifice into sacrament, is a gift that reminds us that we are redeemed:  from fallen to restored.  The judgement of many has been answered by the One Death. And like a Greek tragedy, this our tragedy is reenacted over and over in the hearts and souls and minds of the one-hundred and fifty-year-old faith community that is built on Resurrection ground.

Juxtaposed! News ™ Hot Off the Wire – Climate Control


News Anchor: “Good evening.  I am Mary Summers and this is Juxtaposed! News ™ Hot Off the Wire.

We start tonight’s broadcast with a look at climate change.  Dudley Waters has our report from DC.”  Obama UN

Live Cam w/reporter:The Senate approved a $1.1 billion Zika virus spending bill. The Obama administration then directed that a half a billion dollars from the fund Congress set aside to deal with international infectious diseases be used to help fund a UN agency recently founded to fight climate change.  Here is Senator James Lankford to talk about the spending bill.”

Senator Lankford: Last week, the Senate passed legislation to address and prevent the spread of the Zika virus. However, the Senate failed to pay for it, and instead approved a $1.1 billion “emergency” spending supplemental bill that is not subject to the budgetary caps that were agreed to last year.

james-lankfordWhile congressional inattention to the budget crisis is inexcusable, it is even more disturbing that the Obama administration already has the authority to pay for a Zika response from existing agency budgets, but chose not to.

I’ve said several times on the Senate floor, over the last two weeks, that the Zika virus is a serious threat and should be dealt with responsibly by funding immediate vaccine research and aggressive mosquito population control.

The threat to adults from Zika is relatively small, but the threat to pre-born children is very high. Our national priority rightly focuses on protecting the life of these young children in the womb, since each child has value, no matter their age or size.”

Live Cam w/reporter: “Thank you Senator.  For more on climate change, here is Patsy Loggins.

Live Cam w/reporter: “Thanks Dudley WatersI am here in Jakarta where Secretary of State John Kerry just wrapped up his speech on climate change.  Here are some of his remarks.

Video: “When I think about the array of global climate – of global threats – think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – all challenges that know no borders – the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them. This is not opinion. This is about facts. This is about science. The science is unequivocal. And those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand.”

Kerry went a step further with his assaults on climate change deniers, likening them to members of the Flat Earth Society, adding that “we should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact.”

“And let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the science is absolutely certain,” said Kerry. “It’s something that we understand with absolute assurance of the veracity of that science.”

Live Cam w/reporter: Kerry’s speech took on an alarming tone regarding Indonesia, which he called “one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth. Listen in.”john-kerry-indonesia

Video: “But I wanted to start right here, in Jakarta, because this city – this country – this region – is really on the front lines of climate change,” said Kerry. “It’s not an exaggeration to say to you that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk.”

Live Cam w/reporter: “Back to you, Mary.”

News Anchor: “Thanks Patsy. After the break, an eyewitness account of one man calming the seas.

News Anchor: “Welcome back.  We turn now to a Juxtaposed! News exclusive: an eyewitness account of rising seas calmed by…we are ready to go to Shirley Goodness at the Sea of Galilee.

JesusCalmsSea1Live Cam w/reporter: “Thanks Mary.  I am by the Sea of Galilee waiting for Simon Peter.  Hold on he’s coming now.  Simon…catch your breath first.  Now Simon tell us what happened out there.

Simon Peter: “Yeah, well, I have this fishing business called UTrawl. Get the camera over here. My boat, she is a beauty!

Live Cam w/reporter: “Simon, can you tell our audience what happened last night?”

Simon Peter: “Sure, I…just wanted to…well, what happened was that we, I mean me and my buddies, spent the day listening to Jesus talk about his kingdom.  Jesus would say stuff like, “This is what God’s kingdom was like,” and then he would go on and tell a …what did you call it John, a meta..?”

John: (Leaning in to the camera) “A metaphor.”

Simon Peter: “That’s John. Can they see my boat?”

Live Cam w/reporter: “Yes Simon, what happened last night?”

Simon Peter: “Well, in the evening we were all kind of tired and Jesus said, “Let’s get in your boat, Peter,” -that’s the one right over there – and let’s go to the other side. Jesus was exhausted so he lay down on a boat cushion and fell asleep.

While he was sleeping me and the guys talked about what he had said that day.  You know, we never heard anyone talk like that before. I’ve heard a lot of fish tales in my time but this guy – I think he wrote the book about truth.

Anyway, I love being on the water at night, the air is so clean and my boat glides along in the breeze.  But then last night, Whew! a big windstorm came up just like that! Bam!  The waves were breaking in on us and my boat quickly began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping so soundly that he didn’t notice the water soaking his clothes.  We finally woke him up. We were…they were…a little frightened. You know, the others were going, “Teacher, we’re going to drown Don’t you care?” I just let them.”

Live Cam w/reporter: “Simon, weren’t you scared that you would lose everything, your business?

Simon: “I was scared for my business, of course.  But, I’ve seen so many storms in my time.  This storm, this one, this one was a doozy! I was starting to have a Jonah moment.”

Live Cam w/reporter: “What’s a Jonah moment?”

Simon: “A Jonah moment?  I’m sure your viewers have heard about the prophet Jonah.  No?  Well, Jonah is on a boat and a storm comes up and the crew are praying to God for mercy.  They want to throw “Jonah the jinx” overboard to settle with God.  So Jonah is thrown overboard and the seas calm down just like that. Snap!”

Live Cam w/reporter: “Did they throw you overboard last night?”

Simon: “NO!  But I saw them looking at me so I got Jesus up. And after Jesus got up, he rubbed his eyes and then looked at the storm and shouted, “Silence! Shut up!” Now, I have said some choice words to the weather in my time but what happened next…the wind died down just like that!  Bam! And there was flat calm. What happened was no meta…

John: (Leaning in to the camera) “Metaphor.”

Simon: “Yes, John, move back so they can see my boat.  Then Jesus turns to us and says, “Why are you scared? Don’t you believe yet? I think Jesus was calling us “deniers.”

I heard the other guys talking.  They were saying stuff like, “Who is this?” and “Even the wind and the sea do what he says!”JesusCalmsSea

Live Cam w/reporter: “Wow!  That is amazing! You must be happy to be alive!”

Simon: “I know the guys are. I am just happy that my baby didn’t sink in that storm.”

Live Cam w/reporter: “Anything you want to say before we go, Simon?”

Simon: “You don’t see this kind of thing every day but I saw this with my own eyes. Maybe someday I’ll … John is calling what happened a “sign.”  I call it “all in a day’s work for …what did Jesus call us John?”

John: (Leaning in to the camera) “Fishers of men.”

Live Cam w/reporter: “Back to you Mary.”

News Anchor: “Thanks Shirley. When we return we’ll hear about the possibility of Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the DOJ pursuing civil action against so-called climate change deniers.”



Here are Your Juxtaposed! News™ Top Stories:


Obama Spent Money on Climate Change Over Zika Emergency

Obama Raided $500M for Zika to Finance UN’s Green Climate Fund

John Kerry Mocks Climate Change Deniers

Jonah 1:15

Matthew 8:23-27

Mark 4:35-41

AG Lynch: DOJ Has Discussed Whether to Pursue Civil Action Against Climate Change Deniers


Empire of Lies – Andrew Klaven

“I Am Thirsty”

“I am thirsty.” These words spoken just before Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross reveal the need for life’s most basic requirement:  life-sustaining water for the body and the soul.

 The crucifixion’s slow and agonizing death with its depletion of bodily fluids would cause a human body to dehydrate to the point of suffocation.  The blood pouring from the Lord’s hands and feet and from His lash wounds would deprive His body of its normal blood flow, blood flow which carried necessary oxygen to all of the body’s organs. Water was desperately needed. Instead, Jesus was mockingly offered a sponge soaked with wine which had turned. After tasting it he rejected the old wine and its numbing effects.

 “I am thirsty” indicates the Lord’s need for water but more importantly these words also reveal that the Living Water, God the Holy Spirit, was also leaving the Lord at this point in time.  Because Jesus bore the sins of the world He could not have fellowship with His Father and the Holy Spirit until His work of atonement was complete.  Until then The Trinitarian Well of eternal fellowship was cut off from the Son of God.  In place of this Well, Jesus chose to drink from the bitter cup of God’s will.

 King David prophesied about the relational and physical torment that the Messiah was to suffer on the cross.  From Psalm 22:

 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me,
   so far from my cries of anguish?
 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
   by night, but I find no rest….

I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
   it has melted within me.
 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
   you lay me in the dust of death.

 In this act of substitutionary atonement the Lord’s body bore all the sin of all men for all time.  On the cross Jesus rapidly became depleted from loss of fluid and, as Psalm 22 tells us, from the loss of Living Water –  Jesus was forsaken by the Father and the Spirit.  “Because he poured out Himself to death” Jesus became as a barren desert, a desolate place with no water.  He was made sin for us. 

John’s Gospel account offers the Creator’s context for the words “I am thirsty.”

 In the gospel narrative the apostle John relates the true story of Jesus meeting a woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well. 

 The well and the field surrounding it were gifts from Jacob to Joseph.  And you will remember Joseph. He is the one who received good gifts from his father (the coat) and bad treatment from his brothers. I have no doubt that the well was, well, well-known to many who traveled though the area.  I’m sure it was on the map of those seeking to quench their thirst, thirst brought about by the day’s relentless heat.  John’s account tells us that as Jesus was traveling from one place to another he became tired and thirsty. He stopped outside the town of Sychar at the well to rest.

 As Jesus sat down near the edge of the well he told his disciples to go and get some food in the nearby town. It is midday. The sun is directly overhead and the heat is stifling. Jesus had no means of retrieving the water from the well. You can imagine someone being thirstier when they know that water is just out of reach.

 As Jesus sits resting a woman from the town of Sychar approaches the well carrying her clay jar (I am assuming some things here.).  The woman comes to the well in the middle of the day because, I believe, no one else will be there during the hottest part of the day. She has her reasons for not wanting to be around the other women of the town:  she sleeps around.

 Jesus, thirsty, asks the woman for a drink:  “Will you give me a drink?”

 The woman was at a loss as to what to think:

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

From the gospel account:

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (emphasis mine)

  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

  He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

  “I have no husband,” she replied.

   Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

  “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

(Note:  The woman, like most of us, wanted to deflect the accounting of her sinful life.  Becoming polemical the woman quickly changed the subject and pressed Jesus about a heated religious and geopolitical issue of the day.)

Jesus, having already gotten the woman’s attention by recounting intimate details of her life, responded to her question about true and valid worship as the Source, the well-spring of Truth.

    “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

  The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

  Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Water flows through John’s gospel.  John the Baptist baptized “with water so that He (Jesus) might be revealed by Israel.  In the above passage we learn about Jesus chatting with a woman as he sits next to a well. There He talks about the everlasting living water which wells up inside you if you accept it.  In a previous passage John recorded Jesus’s first sign:  turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana.  In the passage after the Jacob’s well story John tells us about a lame man who had been trying for thirty years to enter the healing pool in Bethesda.  The water of the pool would bubble up with curative power whenever the Spirit stirred it. But the man had his excuses for not being well. In a later passage John recounts Jesus walking on the water to meet the disciples in the middle of a lake.

Then one time …

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (emphasis mine)

Are you thirsty? Are you trying to quench your deepest thirst with the things of this world, things that quickly run ‘dry’ from everyday use?  Do more clothes, more electronic gadgets, more Facebook friends, more entertainments, more tattoos, more tipping points, more of anything this world has to offer satisfy your deepest thirst?

The woman at the well had her life of men.  She had her connections.  She also had her water bucket.  She brought this bucket to the well everyday to get the water she needed to survive.  The woman could argue religion and politics with the best of them but she was thirsting for something more.  She may have wondered “is that all there is?”  Is that all that life has to offer someone like me, a woman of Samaria marginalized by my own community and holding on to an unsure belief in an object of worship others are telling me to believe in.

Unknowingly, it was of the True Well of Life that she made her request:  “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” Jesus responded:  If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

We know that drinking water is necessary for life.  We listen closely to health programs that tell us to drink several glasses of water a day to sustain our bodies, to help them function properly and to replenish the oxygen our systems need. As you would imagine the quality of water that you drink is critical.  Undoubtedly, water that contains filth would do more harm than good.  Is the well water you are drinking clean and pure, refreshing and restorative?  Or, is it filthy with parasites making you weak and sick?

The water that Jesus offers to you and me is greater and purer than the most abundant compound found on earth:  H2O.  It is the Living Water of the Holy Spirit.  This water teems with Abundant Life, the very oxygen of heaven. Once received its Spirit-life effervescence bubbles up within a person.  It then overflows your spirit and converges with the rivers of Living Water that have never stopped flowing throughout all of eternity except for that dark hour when the Gift of God Himself was poured out as a drink offering and He cried, “I am thirsty.”


Shechem’s Archaeology

The Catch of The Day

I have often returned to the eyewitness account of Jesus walking on the water and of Peter’s eager attempt to do the same. I do so especially when I am not sure about my next step.

 It is an unusual account not only because the rules of physics were usurped but also because Jesus is meeting the men in the midst of their daily work. 

 Peter and the others made their living as fisherman.  Everything they needed depended on the day’s catch. The families of these men and the markets were waiting at home.  So come hell or high water they would go out on the Sea of Galilee trawling for fish.

 One night hell and high water came –a fierce storm suddenly arose.  Their small fishing boat was buffeted by the wind and the waves. The sail was useless and rowing had become impossible.  Their whole effort was used to keep an even keel so as not to capsize and lose their nets in the process.

 In the rain-swept darkness there suddenly walked a figure – a man walking on the water towards them.  Perhaps, they thought, it is a ghost.  No one in their right mind would be out in this weather and certainly not for a stroll on the sea. This did not bode well for superstitious fishermen.

 During a streak of lightning, perhaps, Peter thinks he recognizes the profile of Jesus. At this point Peter might have said to himself, “Jesus!  Jesus is not safe. He’s way out on the deep end. Walking on water just might be another one of those “Jesus things’ that keep you guessing. But, my gut tells me to go with it for now.”

 Out of the gale comes a voice, “Take courage! It is I.Don’t be afraid.”

 So Peter yells, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  And Jesus said “Come!”

 Peter stood up in the small boat almost tipping it over. Unsteady, heart racing, he grabbed the hull with one hand and lifted his right leg out of the boat. He put his right foot down on the water.  His foot made no hole in the water. He slowly shifted his balance and brought his left leg out of the boat. Peter stood on the substance of things not seen. He straightened up and looked over at Jesus. The storm was still raging behind the apparition-turned-Apotheosis.

 Yet, in an instant the full weight of Peter’s reason, creating a confluence of fear, opened the sea below him like a watery trap door. He sank down into water over his head.

Treading in the choppy waters as best he could, Peter cried for help, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus caught hold of Peter’s hand and pulled him up.  While holding Peter’s hand and looking Peter square in the eye (I can only imagine.) Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Hoisting the sail, Peter and the crew got back to the business at hand – making a living from being gut sure of what they hoped for and being more certain of what they did not see – fishing.

The eyewitness account that relates Peter’s story is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (14:22-33)

Freedom Apart from Faith?

Vanity Fair, May 2011 issue, under the heading Five Things the Lamestream Media Won’t Tell You About the Constitution:

“2. The phrase “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the Constitution. It was coined in 1975 by William Ayers.”

Here’s something to ponder: a golf game is more important to Obama (who learned about compartmentalization while being around Ayers) than attending church with his family.
Obama has no problem deciding whether to play golf. The economy, Lybia and…? These issues don’t require faith or prayer or even a decision. For Obama, these things require golf (and campaigning for 2012).

2012: send Obama back to wherever he came from. Somewhere there is a community that needs his golf experience!

In stark contrast to the morally filibustering Obama is the integrity and forthrightness of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan:

On the opposite side of the fence (or state border) from Obama is Wisconsin’s Rep. Paul Ryan. In the Sunday, April 17th, 2011 Chicago Tribune there is an article about Ryan titled Wisconsin’s Ryan is thrust into spotlight: Conservative’s plans put him at odds with Obama.” The article discusses some of the details of Ryan’s The Path to Prosperity budget plan. There is also this quote:

“Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, in the news for his own budget battles, is an ally (of Ryan). “There are two types of people in politics, people who want to be somebody great or people who want to do something great,” he said Paul is among the latter.””

And in the article:

“House Republican Peter Roskam (a Christian), of Wheaton (Illlinois), called him (Ryan) well-prepared and said, “He doesn’t overstate or oversell and he’s clear – that’s a gift in this town.”

“”He’s very devoted to his family. He flies back for parent-teacher conferences,” said Janesville attorney George Steil Jr. who practiced with Ryan’s father.”

At the end of the article:

“Joe Van Rooy, who teaches government at Janesville’s Parker High School…takes his students to Washington every year and they meet with Ryan. He said the congressman, now in his seventh term, knows their families and remembers their names. Ryan lectures them about political civility.”
“He noticed, though, that one year Ryan was fingering prayer beads while taking student’s questions. The teacher asked why.
“He said, ‘I am so stressed out about the country.’”
(emphasis mine)

It appears that for Obama, faith is just another tool to leverage himself and his constant campaign. He is more interested in power than in principle.






Tried and true



Without finite



Gone to the Wind

Apocalyptic and



By faith…





“You feed them”



It is finished.”





My father, my mother

My brothers, my sister.

My faith.


Without faith it is impossible

to please


© Sally Paradise, 2010, All Rights Reserved