Megan Ribbens, a young missionary wife and mother in Nigeria, reported “a most beautiful act of random kindness” yesterday: “A crippled man leaning on a stick hobbled into the middle of the intersection to undo the jigsaw puzzle of cars and continued to direct traffic.” Thanks, Megan, for taking advantage of free speech and free press to let your 1005 Facebook friends “see” him too. He may be limited by a disability and poverty, but this man is what I call free–carefree, self-abandoned, bold in exercising his free will for the good of others.

Richard Foster’s classic book links freedom with simple, disciplined living and exuberant generosity. Foster cites many biblical limits to free enterprise which insured (1) that the needs of the poor were met “whether or not the person deserved to be poor;” and (2)that the health of the earth and its creatures was maintained. For example, “oxen that trod out the grain should not be muzzled” but allowed to eat while they worked.

Monday here in Greenbelt at the New Deal Cafe a standing-room- only crowd watched the film “What’s the Economy for?” Many of us signed the position statement advocating a steady state economy. Unbridled free enterprise is not only unjust according to the Bible, it is also dangerous for national security because of competition for dwindling energy supplies and resources. Making an ever-higher gross national product the measure of liberty leads to myriad gross problems which only curtail our freedom including over-consumption, false advertising, planned obsolescence, pollution, out-sourcing and mountains of trash.

Jesus’ brother James who called himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” knew the joy of true freedom: “those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue in it…will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:25). Shane Claiborne and followers of the simple way are among today’s joyous freedom ambassadors, worry-free, tasting and sharing “the first-fruits of the Spirit” in the “glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21-23).



Dear Conservatives:  Please consider conservation.

Dear Christians,  Every day is Earth Day. “In You all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). “The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19).

The Hebrew word Adam means earthling or human, of adamah, the earth, humus. God formed us of the dust of the ground. No wonder children enjoy playing in sand or dirt, making mud-pies or molding clay. God created planet Earth, one in billions, perfectly suited for us. God gave humans a garden home. The word garden in Hebrew and other languages relates to guarding and protecting such as with a hedge or fence. There have to be limits or we end up like the kids in Lord of the Flies. When we forget we’re not God we end up mud-slinging, trashing God’s creation, wasting resources, grabbing more than we need while others starve.

Most of God’s encounters with people we read about in the Bible took place outdoors. People who live longest and healthiest are those who get outdoors most.

Read this book.  Check out this magazine or some of these websites: New Community Project, Blessed Earth, A Rocha, The Ausable Institute, The Evangelical Environmental Network, Christians for the MountainsReligious Campaign for Forest ConservationInterfaith Power and Light.


Does God have desires? Or only requirements? My seven Mulled Words devotionals, including the one on Jesus, focus on human desire, which is often hard to separate from need. God certainly doesn’t need anything.

The prophet Hosea, speaking for God, said “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (6:6). When Jesus was criticized for eating with “tax collectors and sinners” he said “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ (Matthew 9:13).” The apostle Paul referred to “God our Savior who desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God’s one desire is love from all and to all.

Human desire gets a bad rap because we fail to keep it God-focused and loving. Breaking the first commandment, “You shall have no other Gods before me” and the tenth, “You shall not covet,” leads to breaking all those in between as desires multiply and become addictions.

Only Holy Spirit soul-fire burns away the myriad conflicting and convicting desires. An old hymn prays it well: “Eternal Spirit, God of truth, our contrite hearts inspire; kindle a flame of heavenly love, and feed the pure desire.”

God, unleash and stir up my desire for You. “My heart’s desire is to know you more, to be found in you and known as yours…” (from “Knowing You” by Graham Kendrick).

“For it is my deep desire/And my hope is eagerly/ That I not be put away to shame at all/ But that with perfect boldness/ Just as I’ve been tryin’ to do/ So his honor may be seen in my body/ So his honor may remain in my body/ So his honor may be seen/ If I live or if I die/ I may even have to die/ So his honor may be seen in me For to me to live is Jesus Christ/ And to die would be so much better.” For over 30 years these words of James Ward, my favorite singer, song-writer, pianist have reverberated in my mind and heart.


“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah”–the Christ (anointed one) of God.

Frederick Buechner writes, “It is possible to be on Christ’s way without ever having heard of Christ.”

Christ is the crux of history, the crossroad or crucible of human life, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26, 27).

Sylvia Dunstan’s great hymn illuminates Jesus the Christ as the essential paradox– fully divine, fully human: “Clothed in light upon the mountain, stripped of might upon the cross, shining in eternal glory, beggar’d by a soldier’s toss, You the everlasting instant; You who are both gift and cost. You, who are our death and life.”

Saturday at a yoga prayer retreat with Father Tom Ryan I experienced Christ anew as the one in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). With every cell, muscle, tendon and organ in my body energized by Christ’s Spirit, I worshiped the One who raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11). In the morning session our movements were choreographed with Beatitude music– “Blessed Are They, the Poor in Spirit” –and in the afternoon with St. Francis’ Peace Prayer. I bought the DVD which also includes “I Lift Up My Soul”, “How Lovely” and “Take Lord, Receive.”

Christ in me is a verb, a christening that joins me with people all over the world throughout history. Christ’s Spirit courses through my heart and mind growing joyous, peace-making love in patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle, self-controlled action.