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Curiously, the social media platform known as “Twitter” has become a source of inspiration and spiritual growth. That’s because I seek out the spiritual voices on Twitter that I need to hear. And, I filter out all the rest. Here is just a sampling of some of my favorite spiritual tweets recently. See what you think:

  • Boston Celtics pro basketball coach commenting on how to thank God even when you’re not winning!

“You always hear people give glory to God and say ‘thank you’ when they’re holding a trophy, but you never really hear it in times like this.”

  • This is a tweet from Chad Bird, whom I do not know. But I love what he says here.

“A little bit of vulnerability among Christians would go a long way toward giving a witness to the world about what the church is really here for.

Jesus didn’t found a gym where we can go and flex our biblical biceps in front of mirrors so everyone see how hard we’ve worked at being holy. He didn’t create a virtual spiritual reality where we can gather together with like-minded virtual reality users and talk about things of virtually little importance.

Christ founded a church, which is a little bit hospital, a little bit mental ward, and a little bit weekly reunion of sinners who’ve made a mess of their lives. It’s a place where self-proclaimed righteous people who have it all together will be bored because there’s nothing for them there. Church is for real sinners who really sin with other real sinners, for here they find the Friend of Sinners, Jesus the Christ.”

  • This person named Rich Raho always lifts up things said by Pope Francis. I thought this one fitting for VSCC right now.

“A Church weighed down by structures, bureaucracy, formalism – said the Pope – will struggle to walk through history, in step with the Spirit, meeting the men and women of our time.”


  • Greg Laurie is a well-known pastor who thinks he knows more than he does. This is a common trait among pastors – especially the well-known ones, and the ones who want to be well-known. Why is it important for religious leaders to think they have to know the answer to heaven and hell questions? The truth is – we don’t know! Not even Greg Laurie.

“How can a God of love send someone to Hell? My answer…” And then Greg is on a video explaining how he knows as much as God does … 

  • Another good Pope Francis quote from Rich Raho.

Pope Francis: “The commandments that God has given us must not be locked up in the airless vaults of formal observance; otherwise, we are limited to an exterior, detached religiosity, servants of ‘God the Master’ rather than children of ‘God the Father.”

  • From the Twitter account called @StoicTeacher comes these 10 quotes from a spiritual giant named Rumi who was a Sufi mystic poet from the 13th

If you feel empty in life, meditate on these 10 soul touching quotes by Rumi:

  1. You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop.
  2. Your depression is connected to your insolence and refusal to praise.
  3. What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.
  4. Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.
  5. Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.
  6. The wound is the place where the light enters you.
  7. This place is a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at what you thought was your grief.
  8. Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
  9. Love is the bridge between you and everything.
  10. I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.

       7)  James Martin, SJ, a progressive Roman Catholic priest, posted this: 

Pope Francis’ forceful comments today on the decriminalization homosexuality, during his in-flight press conference: “God loves them. God accompanies them.”

8)   Rich Raho

Pope Francis to South Sudan Bishops: “Our first duty is not to be a Church that is perfectly organized, but a Church that, in the name of Christ, stands in the midst of people’s troubled lives, a Church that is willing to dirty its hands for people.”


       9)  If only religious people actually lived according to their covenants. Could you live by this covenant?


       10)   Matthew Zurcher SJ offers this quote from my all-time favorite public theologian, Cornell West.

“Whatever forms of intellectual critique, that’s fine with me. But in the end, I know where I stand. I stand on a love that lifted me, I stand at the bottom of a cross––of a blood––that transformed me so that I could try to love my crooked neighbor with my crooked heart.”

      11)    BONUS! From the late great Bible scholar, Charles Spurgeon: (I love this one!)

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.”

— Charles Spurgeon


Blessings on your journeys thru social media,

Pastor Bob <><

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In her new book, “Blessed Youth: Breaking the Silence About Mental Health with Children & Teens,” Sara Griffith Lund offers all of us real tangible things we can do to help our “Blessed Youth.” There’s something for everybody here, so pay attention!


  • Help youth develop positive relationships with caring adults outside the home. This is where faith families come in. Even though parents want to be the only ones to meet every need of their children, they can’t. When youth develop trusting & meaningful relationships with other adults, “it gives them a better chance at trusting the world, at knowing some of its goodness, at believing they are worth something, at knowing they matter.”

One thing families of faith can do is invite church members to think of themselves as mentors to youth. Even casual conversations that happen on a Sunday morning can begin to plant the seed of trust in a young person or child.

  • Help youth play the soundtrack, “I am loved.” We all need to hear the words, “I love you,” but especially youth and kids. Be sure to tell them they are loved no matter what and that such love is not based on grades, victories, or starring roles in the school play. Sometimes youth and children can become very hard to love. But we must! And we must be sure to tell them that we love them! We need to tell them that we love them no matter what, and always. Here’s a good quote to use: “I love you, and there is nothing you could ever do to change that.” This is the most important thing we could ever say to them.

One thing faith families can do is to share messages of unconditional love throughout the congregation: “You are loved no matter what.” 

  • Help youth expand their worldview. Kids normally think the world revolves around them. And today’s culture, including churches unfortunately, encourages youth to be self-absorbed and to only present their best self to the world. Adults can help them understand that reality extends far beyond them and their circle of social media influence. Our youth need to be stretched beyond their bubble.

One thing faith families can do is support diversity initiatives in the community and promote dialogue on important topics from differing points of view.  

  • Help our youth hope for the future. Youth and children need to be taught that the worst things in life are never the last things. Sometimes life hurts, relationships break up, jobs are lost, loved ones die, and sometimes the money is not there. They also need to know that adults don’t always have the answers and we can’t fix everything, or even make some things better. But … we can be present. We can walk with them through awful times and eventually experience the good and true thing that waits on the other side.

One thing faith families can do is to encourage our congregation to be “peddlers of hope,” inviting other families and youth to join together to spread the hope. No agenda. No church. No strings attached.         

  • Help our youth find time to act like children. Sometimes it’s hard for youth to still enjoy being young and childish. We can help by creating opportunities for play, laughs, messiness, screw-ups, and … fun! Hep then hold on to, and develop, the imagination and wonder of life itself. And by the way, play is always good for mental health, no matter what the age.

One thing a family of faith can do is figure out how to use the church grounds and facility for fun activities for the community. Also, especially for children, play is the most important part of their day. Let the kids and youth be “the boss” of playtime!

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Continued blessings on your spiritual walk …. Peace be with you,

Pastor Bob <><







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Food for the Soul: 3 Poems of Marie Howe

Food for the Soul: 3 Poems of Marie Howe

If you’ve ever wondered how poetry can speak to the Gospel realities of our lives, Marie Howe shows us how. (No pun intended!). Below are 3 of my favorite Marie Howe poems that all speak, in one way or another, to my daily walk with Jesus.

Poem #1 is “The Star Market.” Think of Jesus walking into Walmart and discovering all the poor, lame, demonized, confused and lost souls that he has come to save. I dedicate this one to Barry Williams, who is our own Walmart missionary. Barry never fails to see the nameless folks of the Gospels every time he enters Walmart. And that’s when he becomes Jesus’s hands and feet. Like Jesus, Walmart is his mission field.

The Star Market

The people Jesus loved were shopping at The Star Market yesterday.                                                                 An old lead-colored man standing next to me at the checkout                                                                  breathed so heavily I had to step back a few steps.

Even after his bags were packed he still stood, breathing hard and                                                          hawking into his hand. The feeble, the lame, I could hardly look at them:                                               shuffling through the aisles, they smelled of decay, as if The Star Market

had declared a day off for the able-bodied, and I had wandered in                                                                   with the rest of them: sour milk, bad meat:                                                                                                      looking for cereal and spring water.

Jesus must have been a saint, I said to myself, looking for my lost car                                                                     in the parking lot later, stumbling among the people who would have                                                                     been lowered into rooms by ropes, who would have crept

out of caves or crawled from the corners of public baths on their hands                                                             and knees begging for mercy.

If I touch the hem of his garment, one woman thought, I will be healed.                                                       Could I bear the look on his face when he wheels around?


Poem #2 is “Prayer.” For me, this poem speaks to the bitter reality in my life of trying to find sufficient time for God in my daily plans. As the poem teaches us, our plans never stop or have a pause. All the time, God is right there … waiting … for us to find the time for God. Which, by now, is gone again.  


Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important                                     calls for my attention – the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage

I need to buy for the trip.                                                                                                                                             Even now  I can hardly sit here                                                                                                                                 

among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside                                                   already screeching and banging.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.                                                                                              Why do I flee from you?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints                                                                                               and become a story I forgot to tell.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning                                                                                                    to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

Poem #3 is “Courage.” My take from this poem is that the four-and-a-half-year-old boy knows so much more than the dad with the three-and-a-half-year-old girl. What is Parasite 2? What should I be afraid of? If I don’t even know that … how can I ever have the courage to face the world without fear? Am I supposed to be afraid of things I don’t even know about?    


I’m helping my little girl slide down the pole next to the slide-and-bridge construction                             when a little boy walks up and says, Why are you helping that young person                                                     do something that’s too dangerous for her?

Why do you say it’s too dangerous? I say                                                                                                                  And he says, She’s too young.                                                                                                                                And I say, How old are you? And he says, four and a half.                                                                                   And I say, Well, she’s three and a half

When he comes back a little later he says, I’ll show you how it’s done, and                                                climbs up the ladder and slides down the pole.                                                                                                     Then he says, She’s too young. What happens is that when you get older you get braver.                        Then he pauses and looks at me, Are you brave?

Brave? I say, looking at him.                                                                                                                                     Are you afraid of Parasite 2? he says.                                                                                                                        And I say, What’s Parasite 2?                                                                                                                                       And he walks away slowly, shaking his head.

(All 3 poems taken from “The Kingdom of Ordinary Time” by Marie Howe)

Have a blessed Middle Sabbath ….     

Pastor Bob <><


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In her book, “The Gospel People Don’t Want to Hear,” Lisa Cressman talks about the importance of “trust” within a church that’s trying to build the Kingdom of God. This is an excerpt from her book:

There’s a reason we’re not living in the Kingdom of God yet: we haven’t built it yet. We know we’re supposed to build it, and we know God has equipped us with the resources and grace to accomplish it.  

Yet, why haven’t we?

In short, we don’t trust God or each other.

We don’t trust … the process, the outcome, who we will be or what we will recognize of our world when we get there.  We don’t trust we’ll like it. We don’t trust we’ll be given the courage to get through the pain and uncertainty of the changes, and come out better off than we are now.

We like the idea of the reign of God, but we want to keep what we want to keep when we get there. That brings us to rather an impasse. We are only willing to build the reign of God to the extent we trust God and each other.

We ask people to pay a steep price to follow Jesus into an uncertain future, rather than try to return to the past. They’ll only go as far as they trust us and trust God.


  • The quality and depth of trust dictates the quality and depth of our relationships: God with us, us with God, us with one another.
  • Trust and distrust are built on what is witnessed and what is absent from view, and perception trumps all.
  • Trust is built from hope, faith and love.
  • We can build trust through intentional practices to diagnose, experiment, and appraise.
  • The reign of God can be built … to the extent we trust one another.


How has Jesus built trust with you? How does God build faith, hope and love? Where does God seem to be untrustworthy?                                                                                                                                                                                                          In what ways do you know yourself to be trustworthy? Less trustworthy?                                                                                             What perception of your trustworthiness do you believe others have of you? In what ways might they perceive you to be less trustworthy?                                                                                                                                                                                        Describe how you build trust with others?


Mental Health Nugget:

I’ve also been reading Alan Noble’s wonderful little book on Mental Health, “On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living.” Here’s a short reflection based on his book.

Ever have this thought? The world would be better off without me because I am the one who is messed up, who can’t seem to get it together. I have a favorite prayer for those moments: “Lord, PLEASE STOP THE WORLD – I want to get off!

That’s not the answer.

Alan Noble thinks the Apostle Peter might have a good idea. Peter says in 1 Peter 5: 6-9 (see below): Whatever you are going through, the world is filled with people suffering similarly. There are unique qualities to your experience, but you are not alone. There are Christians suffering in similar ways all over the world. Some suffer much less than you, some suffer more than you can imagine, but this burden of life is something we carry in common. So, when you feel worthless or overwhelmed with anxiety, it’s not a sign that you lack faith or are not a true or good Christian. Millions of your brothers and sisters in Christ feel the same way right now.

But, there is another implication: if our suffering is common, then we should not hide it but instead help others bear it.

1 Peter 5: 6-9:

6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

8-11 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So, keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

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Continued blessings on your spiritual walk-through Eastertide …. Peace be with you,

Pastor Bob <><


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In Autumn of 1936, Evelyn Underhill gave a series of radio broadcasts to present some of the great truths concerning our spiritual life in simple language, “treating it – not as an intense form of other-worldliness remote from the common ways and incompatible with the common life.” Her goal was also to make these talks completely compatible with the Christian faith.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from her broadcasts. See if you can relate to any of these.

  • Following Jesus and dedicating your life to His Way means discipline of thought and of feeling; a more careful use of leisure; and filling our minds with ideas that point the right way, instead of suggestions that distract us from God and spiritual things.
  • It also means, at some point, sometime given solely to Communion with Jesus; and perseverance in this practice – even though we first seem to get nothing from it.
  • There are few lives with no pauses in the day. Use even the few minutes that you have to cultivate Communion with God, and let the spirit of these few minutes spread through the busy hours.
  • We must expel from our lives any thoughts and acts which are inconsistent with these times of Communion. For unless we are prepared to make God the center of our lives, setting the standard for everything else in our life, then we have no hope for results.
  • “We cannot begin the day with a real act of Communion with God, the Author of peace, and then go on to read a bloodthirsty newspaper at breakfast.”
  • It is this constant correlation between inward and outward that really matters. And this has always been the challenge for humans, because there are two natures in us, pulling different ways, and reconciling them is a long hard task.
  • The spiritual life does not require a definite and exact plan of study. But, it does require a definite plan of life; and courage to stick to that plan, not merely for days and weeks, but for years. This is something which cannot be hurried; but, if not taken seriously, can be infinitely delayed.
  • Looking at people’s behavior, it appears that God is far less important than their bath, morning paper, or early cup of coffee or tea. A life with God must begin with a full and practical acceptance of the truth that God alone matters. This must begin first in our own character and actions; then in our homes; then our surroundings, our workplace, and our country.
  • We must be prepared that this will cost us a lot.; frequently thwarting our own preferences, and demanding real sacrifice. Our goal is to accept our spiritual calling with all it involves. Not merely turning the pages in a magazine and looking at the pictures, but “putting on overalls and getting on with the job.”
  • The real spiritual life must be horizontal, as well as vertical. That means it must spread more and more, it must be larger, fuller, richer, and more generous, than the natural life alone could be. The spiritual life must invade and transform all “homely” activities and practical things. In essence, it means the offering of our whole life to the Father of all life.

Continued blessings on your spiritual walk-through Eastertide …. Peace be with you,

Pastor Bob <><








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 SUNDAY’S SCRIPTURE: Psalm 118 (New International Version)

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. 25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.  

28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.


            Have you had this specific thought lately: “How bad can it get?” That question is a pretty constant thought the runs through my mind once or twice a week. When we look around us … in our town, and state, and country, and world … it makes us wonder, how bad can it really get before this whole thing collapses?

On the other hand, have you had this specific thought lately: “How good can it get?” I don’t ask that question enough. Because frankly people, God is doing some amazingly beautiful things all around us.

I wonder what your eyes see first: How bad it is … or how good it is. Trust me – it makes a big difference!

Psalm 118 arises out of the constant questioning by the Jewish peoples: “How bad can it get?” Because life had really gotten pretty bad for them. As you can read in the Psalm, they have been rejected and captured and exiled to Babylon. Families split apart. The Temple destroyed. The practice of their faith has become a relic of the past. Here they are, God’s Chosen People, the people called to bring the one true God to the world, scattered and tattered. They were wondering, “How bad can it get?”

But as the Psalm tells us … the people who have been rejected are now the “chief cornerstone.” The nation of Israel is no doubt at one their lowest points in history. They have failed God. They have lost their religion. They have lost their community of fellow Jews. They have lost their home … the city of David … to the enemies.

It’s hard for us to imagine what it would be like to suffer in this way. But think about it, as you’re complaining about how bad it could get for you. Let’s see: screwing up at work doesn’t compare; breaking a leg doesn’t compare; having a car accident doesn’t compare; paying $4 for a gallon of milk doesn’t compare; and even running out of gas somewhere between nowhere and the end of the world doesn’t compare.

On the other hand, most have us do have a situation (or more than one) that seems like it is as bad as it can get. Because whatever happens to us personally are always the most challenging parts of our life. For example, the war in Ukraine is about as bad as it gets for the Ukrainians. And even though it hurts us to think about it, it doesn’t hurt us like it hurts them. To us, it’s across the world. To them, it’s personal. It’s their own family. It’s their own home. It’s their own church. It’s their own city. You see … it’s them. Not us. And this is a big difference, no matter how upset you are by the war.

Still, there are things in your life right now that have you wondering, “How bad can it get?” Privately, think about what those things are for you. Maybe it’s just one thing. Maybe more. But these are the things that kick us in the gut and pull the floor out from underneath our lives.

Recently in our Sunday messages, I have talked about the prophets Samuel and Ezekiel. In the story of choosing David as the next king, Samuel the Prophet teaches us that God does not see things as we see them. God has the advantage of seeing the “big picture.” In fact, God sees the ultimate picture. And in the Book of Ezekiel, we learned about the power of God to turn ashes into life. All it takes is a breath … the breath of life … which only comes from God.

So, you may think you have it bad, and you could certainly be right. But you also have it good, because for every bad thing that happens in your life, God is already working to make it good. We may not have the eyes to see the good yet, but remember, it is always there and always working.

Try this: when your mind gets caught up in your troubles, give yourself a pause, step away from the world for a moment of two, and be alone with God and listen. Quietly. God already knows every issue you are having that creates worry, or fear, or intense anxiety, or unbearable sadness. So, what you want to listen for from God is how God is working right in that moment in your life.

It’s happening. Trust God. Samuel did … and he found a young ruddy king in the backfields of Jessie’s land taking care of sheep. I wonder what David was thinking that day BEFORE Samuel showed up. Maybe, he thought, “How bad can it get?” But God was already working.

Ezekiel saw God at work. For starters, he had the eyes to see. And from looking, he wondered. “How bad can it get?” But God was already working, and before God was done, new life had arisen from dust and bones. For sure, Ezekiel thought this was the end of the line for God’s “Chosen People.” I mean, could it get any worse?

Now, take your own unpredictable and precious life. Where is God absent from your life, at least as you see it? Then, after spending a little time with God, look around with new eyes. Not to offend any of you, but the answer is … YES, it could get worse. And it might. But … it doesn’t have to. Use your new God-gifted eyes to see that in the very midst of the hardest thing in your life right now … God’s got it. Always has. Always will.

See you Sunday in worship!                                                                              Pastor Bob <><

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