Thursday, November 19, 2020



          This is the eighth in our

              Fall Series


              living out

   The Sermon On The Mount


Whether there is snow where we live or not, 

these next two posting will mean 

"heavy shedding" for all of us.

We will be working our way through

drifts of difficulty - understanding aright

and embracing fully what are for most

the most difficult dimensions of

Jesus's call to discipleship.

The realness and viability of

our spiritual lives depends on 

making it through to clarity and embrace.

Happily we can count on The Holy Spirit 

for stamina and perseverance.


Dear All of Us,

I don't know how it goes with you,

but for me The Bible can often be a 

           Rough Read


         TOUGH STUFF:

 - Psalm 137:9 

  Smash the heads of your enemies' babies 

  against a rock -

  So much for respect life!

- Book of Joshua

  Turns out that the Promised Land

  was already peopled and

  God had them evicted so 

  the Israelites could move in -

  The locals are still soar about it!

- Numbers 26 and Matthew 1 

  Mile long genealogies and head counts -

        "Enough already!" 

  with all these ancient analytics and  

  actuarial rollouts 

- Exodus 25 - 40

  Encyclopedic, repetitive ritual regulations -

  makes the Methodist Book of Discipline 

  and the Roman Code of Canon Law

  look like simple little manuals 

  on how to change a tire

- I Samuel 15:3 

 "Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy 

  all that they have; do not spare them, 

  but kill both men and women, child and infant, ..." -

  Hey, that's genocide! 

- Genesis 19: 30-38

  Lot's two daughters get Daddy drunk 

  two nights in a row and take turns 

  having sex with their father -

  Definitely not a go for The Hallmark Channel,

  much less a children's religious education class . 


                 Rough Reads!

Now in all fairness scripture needs to be read

in terms of its time, place, culture, 

the consciousness level of its people and writers,

the customs current, the literary forms of then, 

and a ton more elements that factor into 

what is written, how it is written and 

what the basic meaning was and is for all its form.

Scripture is nothing close to a pulp novel written 

by someone in Peoria for pleasure reading.

For all of the above the read is often  

              TOUGH STUFF

           The roughest of the

              TOUGH STUFF

  for me is right here where we are 

             in this series on


                living out 

       The Sermon On The Mount 

       That's Matthew 5:38-48.

Now, I'm all in for the rest of it.

The Golden Rule, well, OK, most days anyway.

I get it and go with it about

 - anger, lust, divorce, judging,

 - not grandstanding at public prayer, 

   almsgiving, or fasting,

 - a simple yes or no 

   to truth telling,

 - making sure both heart and treasure 

   are in the same right place,

 - and all the wonderful rest.

In all conflicted honesty, though, I choke at 

           Matthew 5:38-48.

    I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.

So, let's go over this together.

Let's be completely Soul Sensitive.

Let's be totally Soul Honest.

Right now and right here let's face Jesus.

Let's see Jesus looking us right in the eye 

and saying to us:


   "Here's another old saying

    that deserves a second look:

   'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.'

    Is that going to get us anywhere?

    Here's what I propose:

   'Don't hit back at all.'

    If someone strikes you,

    stand there and take it.

    If someone drags you 

    into court and sues for 

    the shirt off your back,

    gift wrap your best coat 

    and make a present of it.

    And if someone takes 

    unfair advantage of you,

    use the occasion 

    to practice the servant life.

    No more tit-for-tat stuff.

    Live generously.

       Matthew 5:38-42

         The Message


Hey, come on now, Jesus!! 

You want us to be 

human punching bags?

This is more than a bit much!!

Well, Jesus does "come on now"

and that with more, much more, 

        TOUGH STUFF !!

   "You're familiar with the old written law,

    'Love your friend,' 

     and its unwritten companion,

    'Hate your enemy.'

     I'm challenging that.

     I'm telling you to love your enemies.

     Let them bring out the best in you,

     not the worst.  

     When someone gives you a hard time, 

     respond with the energies of prayer,

     for then you are working out of your true selves,

     your God-created selves.

     This is what God does.

     He gives his best - the sun to warm

     and the rain to nourish - everyone, regardless:

     the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty.

     If all you do is love the lovable, 

     do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.

     If you simply say hello to those who greet you,

     do you expect a medal?

     Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

     In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up.

     You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. 

     Live out your God-crated identity.

     Live generously and graciously toward others,

     the way God lives toward you.

                    Matthew 5:43-48

                      The Message

Well, there you have it. And so do I. But do we?

Can we buy in? Our spiritual lives,

us being disciples, are at stake here.

It's simply a "no go" to be 

        Cafeteria Christian

when it comes to what Jesus serves up: 

      "I'll have one of these, 

       but I'll take a pass on those."

    Yet and Yes, this really is 

           TOUGH STUFF

So let's go back over all this very slowly

in the coming week. That will highlight 

where/how we are with this 

           TOUGH STUFF

It will also prime us for next week

when we will dig deep to get 

the real sense and scope 

of what Jesus says about 

retaliation and reaction to enemies,

those who hurt us one way or many.

So, let's apply each utterance of Jesus here 

to the worst/hardest case scenarios 

in our personal, church, national and international,

real life social/soul settings.

Let's "get it down on paper,' or if better for you,

on a spread sheet.

We need to one way or another

spell it out so we can get a real read

on where we are with Jesus and 

his way of responding to the painful bastards 

in our private and shared life.

Of course that is not gentile,

Church Ladies Aid Society talk.

       It is tough talk about the 

           TOUGH STUFF

        Jesus says about the 

          TOUGH STUFF

with which we have to deal, 

for example, whatever 

our political persuasions, indeed 

our political passions, in these 

divided, anxious, angry times.

Under each phrase of Jesus we catalogue 

our questions, conflicts, resistance.

Given that kind of sheer, stark, encounter,

      how do we do with this

         TOUGH STUFF ?

      Are we really ready to


  actually, practically, living out

          this section of 

  The Sermon On The Mount -

    not resisting the evildoer,

      loving our enemies?

Or is all this too high a "Mount" for our climb?

And what about our establishment churches?

What about our social circle?

What about our business and work settings?

What about our sports and entertainment choices?

What about our judicial/penal system?

What about our military stance?

What about politics just now?

Can we see people through the political smog choking us,

see children of God, see brothers and sisters

with the same divine presence and DNA 

at their core as ours even if 

we are offended/hurt by them?

What about social justice issues - racial strife, 

income disparity, excessive incarceration, immigration?

What about environmental matters?

What about militarism and international concerns?

What about red and blue not allowing 

a white of respect, civility, cooperative compromise 

                       for the

                  COMMON GOOD

                  and making it a 

                Red, WHITE and Blue 


The scripture scholars peg these words of Jesus as

                  "ipsissima verba",

                   "the very words" 

                   of Jesus.

They are not the work of later Gospel writers 

ascribing words to Jesus based on their lived experience 

and that of the early church -

perfectly proper literary form in those days.

This is Jesus verbatim. Are we listening?

Will we hear him? Let's be real about that 

and not try to explain him away.

That would only separate us, distance us as disciples,

from following Jesus, from 


               on living out 

      The Sermon On The Mount

Let's be real in hearing what Jesus says 

and about where we are with that so far.

And let's be sensitive to ourselves and our

                  "so far."

          It may indeed be that

                  "so far"

we just can't hear it, much less start to live it.

God is patient with us as we grow.

We do well to share in that patience.

So, let's do our best to sense, to catch on 

to what and why Jesus is after in all this

and where we come down with him

                   "so far"

Hey, this sounds like a lot of homework

             - rough sledding -

for the coming week. Sorry about that.

Actually, though, all this is more

               Heart Work.

Let's have at it, pray and ponder,

and then we'll pick up here again next week.

We need to first honestly face the 

             ROUGH STUFF

and our actual, operative response.

Then we can begin to hear anew

the hard truth and beauty of what Jesus invites.

Anything short of that is sadly spiritual self delusion. 

Next week we will try to plow through 

the drifts of difficulty, dig deep, chip through

granite of our confusion, fear, our "so far,"

and strike it rich, discovering the seam of gold

in what Jesus says, invites and offers

as we understand it anew and life it freely. 

                   Your fellow 

                "Wanna Be But"


                 John Frank



 Greetings to all our first time visitors.

 How wonderful this week to welcome

 large groups of you from 

         France and Russia.

 We appreciate your company

           a whole lot!!


   "frankly speaking"

spirituality for the street

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         Good luck 

 roughing it out with the


        this week,

  with plowing through.

  Next week's sharing 

    will build on it

  and hopefully get us 

  to the heart of what 

  Jesus is reveling here.

  We'll have to dig for it,

  and dig we will!!