Emily Dickinson and the Commandment She Kept.

Emily Dickinson and the Commandment She Kept.

And then, of course, the New Testament tells us to stop, look, and listen again. I think of Jesus, and I think of Emily Dickinson, of all people, who said a wonderful thing in a letter she wrote: “You know, there is only one commandment I have never broken”—which is wonderful, for I can’t imagine Emily Dickinson breaking any commandments, though I’m certain she has broken as many as the rest of us—”and that is the commandment, ‘Consider the lilies of the field.’ ” Wonderful. She is referring of course, to what Jesus says to the crowd on the hillside—”Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29).

It’s a joke, in a way, the thought of commandments like this, but in another way it is the kind of commandment that it seems to me Jesus gives in different ways again and again, that this life is, in a way, a parable: Consider the lilies of the field. Consider what it was to find that thing you had lost, that coin, that ring your mother gave you, that photograph that could not be replaced and suddenly it is there. Consider your heart itself…consider that. Consider the lost sheep. Consider the dead sparrow. Consider the way leaven works in bread. Consider the way seeds grow, that tiny little bit of a seed that grows and grows and grows until it’s a tree as big as Texas.

Pay attention to these things.

And of course, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is this: loving God and loving our neighbors. I don’t know what it means to love God—really, I’m not all that good at it—but I think one of the things it means is, just as in the case of loving anybody else, you stop and watch and wait. Listen for God, stop and watch and wait for him. To love God means to pay attention, be mindful, be open to the possibility that God is with you in ways that, unless you have your eyes open, you may never glimpse. He speaks words that, unless you have your ears open, you may never hear.

Draw near to him as best you can.



Frederick Buechner, The Remarkable Ordinary, pp.36-37.

“Words? Who gives a hoot about words?”

“Words? Who gives a hoot about words?”

Words. Who gives a hoot about words? Like Job asking God, “Why do things happen to a man like me, these terrible things, my children dead, my cattle gone?” Supposing God had said, “Look Job, I’ll tell you, here’s why it happened. . .” So, what? Would that have helped Job? Of course not. What Job needed was what he got, which was the vision of God himself. “I had heard of you be the hearing of my ears; now mine eyes have beheld thee.” That was the answer that was without words. So in a funny way I didn’t get the answer, but I got silence, the sense of mystery, the sense of holiness. Nobody talked to me at all, except at the end I went to see the father who had the stroke, and he was able to say to me, “Do you go to church regularly now? Do you confess your sins?” I said, “No.” “would you like to confess them?” I said I guessed I would, and I said a few little things I could think of. And then he said, “Well, you know you have a long way to go,” and he was right, and I still do.

But I remember that, “You have a long way to go.”



Frederick Buechner, The Remarkable Ordinary, p.81

An Ordinary Kind of Love. Most Extraordinary.

An Ordinary Kind of Love. Most Extraordinary.

I’ve listened to this sermon twice now, and the Word is rattling around my heart like a bingo ball in the spin cycle.

Zack Eswine walking through 1 Cor 13, talking about what significance really looks like.

Do yourself the favor. Listen.

I’m probably going to listen again, because I want to be marked by and revel in this love.

It’s the imprint I want to leave in my home, on my children, and with those I serve.

The love of God changing impatient people like me, like you.

Bringing significance to the moments of our lives.

Bringing Jesus near.











(note: there are 5 sermons in this series, it’s on the Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church Podcast feed from a conference in July)

a prayer from weakness.

a prayer from weakness.

This prayer. This hope. Thankful for Scott Sauls who articulates it so well.

Father in heaven, 
Always grant me character
that is greater than my gifts
and humility
that is greater than my influence. 





(p.64, From Weakness to STRENGTH, Scott Sauls)

Herbert: A Conversation with Death.

Herbert: A Conversation with Death.


ALAS, poor Death !  where is thy glory ?
Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting ?

Alas, poor mortal, void of story !
Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.

Poor Death ! and who was hurt thereby ?
Thy curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.

Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die ;
These arms shall crush thee.

Spare not, do thy worst.
I shall be one day better than before ;
Thou so much worse, that thou shalt be no more.



(George Herbert)

however long it takes.

however long it takes.

“The source of freedom for today’s ministers in located at the very heart of their vocation. The source lies not in their professional status or their current location along the trajectory of a career. It lies in the fact that they serve the living God, who is no respecter of persons, in the fact that they are the servants of his Word and Son, before whom all will be judged. It is this understanding that gives ministers the freedom to remain in one location however long it takes to make theological truth a central and effective part of their ministry, regardless of whether their careers pass them by in the meantime.”

David F. Wells, No Place For Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology