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ISSUE No. 32 | APRIL 2O23

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ISSUE No. 32 | April 2023


If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you!  CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND.  Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:

What are you cultivating in your life?

What fruit do you want your life to bear?

Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:

Cultivate:  Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”


Irrigate:  Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation:  Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.


Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.  

Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living.  We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!



For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.

(I Corinthians 3:9)

Our theme this month is POWER AND LOVE.  In a month that commemorates Holy Week, culminating in Easter Sunday, power and love are central cords woven through the story of Christ’s suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection.  Though we may be comforted and carried by the thought of love, the idea of power can evoke mixed emotions.  Too many of us have been subject to the misuse or outright abuse of power.  We all too often recognize the wounds of power more readily than the wonders of power.


Our hope is that this issue will cause you to stop and think deeply about power and its unique nature when power is purposed by love rather than propelled by fear.  God's view of power stands in contrast to the world’s view of power.  Love and joy are the sweet and nourishing fruit of power used for the purposes of God. Pain and suffering are the bitter fruit of power propelled by fear.


In this issue you’ll meet a woman who embodied power and love and whose faithfulness brought healing and hope to an entire nation and beyond.  You’ll meet an artist who paints portraits of ordinary people and in doing so seeks to project their “pure power” on canvas.  Our Essay spotlights five pastors who, with humility and honesty, confess their experience of being seduced by power. Our film recommendations shine a revealing light on the multifaceted nature of power.  In our Book of the Month entitled Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, author Andy Crouch cautions us that: Power is nothing – worse than nothing – without love. 


When properly understood and used, power is a force for good, for healing, and for justice. We are called by God to steward well the power entrusted to us for the sake of others.  We can do so only when we are moved and motivated by love.  May we each take steps to do that each day. As Mahatma Gandhi wisely observed: The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.  (DG)


Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
  the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
  and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
  and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
  and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
  will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
  they will run and not grow weary,
  they will walk and not be faint.

(Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News, and to tell it without using the language of human wisdom, in order to make sure that Christ's death on the cross is not robbed of its power. For the message about Christ's death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God's power. (I Corinthians 1:17-18 GNT)


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,

so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (II Cor. 12:9 NRSV)



A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life


Power at its best is love. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)


Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts. Perhaps the fear of a loss of power.  (John Steinbeck)


If you want to test a man’s character, give him power. (Abraham Lincoln)


I want to disabuse people of the idea that knowledge is power. Knowing how to get to Detroit is not the same thing as having the bus fare. (Andrew Vachss)


Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move. (Ossie Davis)


We know what the power of the world looks like. When push comes to shove, as it often does, it is the power of violence, using the threat of pain and death. It is, yes, the power of tanks and bombs, and also of guns and knives and whips and prisons and barbed wire and bulldozers. Weapons to destroy people’s lives; machines to destroy their homes. Cruelty in the home or at work. Malice and manipulation where there should be gentleness, kindness, and wisdom. Jesus’s power is of a totally different sort, as he explained to the Roman governor a few minutes before the governor sent him to his death—thereby proving the point. The kingdoms of the world run on violence. The kingdom of God, Jesus declared, runs on love. That is the good news.  (NT Wright)


There is nothing more tragic in the modern world than the misuse of power and action. 

(Thomas Merton)

When contemplated in its extreme, almost any power looks dangerous. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

Calmness is the cradle of power.  (J.G. Holland)

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives. (Brené Brown)


Far from being aloof or detached from power, the church is all about power—the end of power, meaning the purpose of power, the taming of power, and the unleashing of power for true flourishing. The church proclaims the true story of power. By telling the whole story from Genesis to Revelation, with its astonishing bookends of good, very good and glorious news, the church recognizes and affirms our human ambitions and aspirations, placing them in the context where they truly make sense and can find their rightful place. By telling the full truth about idolatry and injustice, not least by recalling the stories of how our own heroes fell into compromise and foolishness, the church makes clear just how damaging our pride is to ourselves, our neighbors and the whole groaning creation. And by recounting over and over the immense cost of redemption, the church leads us to abashed and grateful humility before the one who gave up everything for us. (Andy Crouch)




Artist of the Month

Dean Mitchell

By Ben Hunter

Where does the power of art lie? It could be discovered within the charismatic pull of the subject, or the compelling craft and aesthetic design elements. Perhaps its message speaks to or awakens and challenges something deep within us. Concepts like truth and beauty, or the absence of them. It can be conscious and subconscious. Some of us just want to revel in the bravura found in a one-of-a-kind artist’s touch. Photography is a most worthy artform; however, what happens when something takes the tangible leap from the captured moment on film…or digitally…and enters the realm of painting, for example? The timeless union of subject and painter is truly like a marriage, in that the two coming together produces a third entity, a new creation, and yet resembles both parties. This is perhaps most evident in a successful portrait where the finished work is a revelation of the subject and artist equally. This harmony plays most powerfully in Dean Mitchell’s portraits.


The subjects of Mitchell’s paintings are a far cry from how the tradition of portraiture advanced, where only the likenesses of the rich and influential were captured. Mitchell’s paintings are not a beauty parade or fashion show. Instead, his subjects are often from his own intimate circles. His gallery walls are not a who’s who, but rather those we might never have even noticed. They are often the aged or ill, marginalized, neglected, segregated, overlooked, forgotten, and even lost.  But are they hopeless? Are they powerless?


At Easter we are reminded of the prophesy of the coming Messiah in Isaiah 53 “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” It remains a convicting challenge to me that I might ignore, disregard, or miss the only one that has the power to change everything. Mitchell’s portraits are, in their own way, a gut check. Like any good portrait, they must be more than a faithful rendering of the subject. Some of Mitchell’s most compelling works are his watercolors, which make effective use of this transparent medium. A medium where layer is applied upon layer, and the potency of the underlying paper always shines through. In many of Mitchell’s subjects there are evident layers of wounds – some self-inflicted and some by others, but there is always the collateral damage of time. The portraits pull us deeper into the cracks and beg us to look again. While for some, life has not played fair, or at least been unkind, Mitchell’s representations bring us face to face with enduring dignity, brave resilience, and in his own words “pure power.” There is tremendous strength to be found in merely being present, true to oneself in the moment; honestly, completely, and vulnerably. The lives that are unveiled on Mitchell’s canvases evoke Paul’s message on suffering and its intimate relationship with perseverance, character, and hope in Romans 5. In equal measures of realism and expressionism Mitchell bares these truths with such sensitivity.

The task of really “seeing” people is not an endeavor taken lightly, but it is central to Mitchell’s own story. Born into poverty and raised by his grandmother on tobacco farms in the South he knew firsthand what it meant to be invisible. The verdict given to him was that he would never make it as an artist, and definitely not a black artist painting black subjects. The voices to the contrary were his own inner calling, and that of his grandmother who gave him his first paint by number set. His grandmother Marie Brooks really saw him and changed the trajectory of his life. We should not be surprised that the focus of his art would be to really see others, and particularly to bring to the forefront those that are often easily dismissed. To capture their pure power.


Dean Mitchell, Hidden, Watercolor, 2019

Mitchell’s landscapes and structures take us on a similar journey. They are not romantic destinations that would inspire holiday plans, but more likely the desolate plains and urban decay in which one hopes their car doesn’t break down. There are plenty of dilapidated structures, bleak native reservations, store fronts in need of renewal, and plenty of cars that actually are broken down. Despite this, like Mitchell’s portraits, his painted spaces begin to work on the observer. Amidst the loneliness, chaos, and despondency of poverty there are sparks of life. In fact, some of the structures aren’t mere houses, but have names like “Jefferson House” and “St. Louis Mansion”. Time and life may have taken their toll, but something remains, almost as a protest. As with Mitchell’s portraits, there is the resounding note that this cannot be the end. Though the facade may have fallen away, what is left is a fighting spirit that won’t give up. It is the voice of an artist that grew up under such falling eaves, and a chorus that told him his life had no worth and his dreams no merit. Even in the face of this, it was under the same ramshackle roof that Mitchell experienced the love and belief of his grandmother. From these tumbledown surroundings came an artist whose landscape could be a forsaken wasteland, or a limitless horizon. A career of capturing subjects imbued with a power that would shine on any gallery wall.


In view of Easter and new creation, how does GOD look at us? The resurrected Jesus was changed, thoroughly himself but almost unrecognizable. He behaved in a way mere mortals cannot, and yet he bore the marks of his passion on his hands and side. How does GOD “see” us? He clearly sees past the patched drywall, spackle, and the fresh coat of paint I continually apply like daily makeup. He can see the effects of time, neglect, or poor choices.  But he also sees himself, CHRIST in us, the new life that won’t crumble, fade, and can never be destroyed. What will we experience when our structures are restored once and for all, and eternally redeemed? As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, in an instant, in a twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed. Pure power.


To learn more about Dean Mitchell and to explore his artwork further visit his website: 

View Now »


Dean Mitchell, Urban Streets of New York, Watercolor, 2018



by Gregory of Nazianzus (AD 329-390)


He began His ministry by being hungry, yet He is the Bread of Life.
Jesus ended His earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet He is the Living Water.
Jesus was weary, yet He is our rest.

Jesus paid tribute, yet He is the King.
Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet He cast out demons.
Jesus wept, yet He wipes away our tears.
Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet He redeemed the world.
Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet He is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus died, yet by His death He destroyed the power of death.



Dr. Ruth Pfau


If you’re like most of our American readers, you likely have never heard of Dr. Ruth Pfau. Neither had I until a Belgian friend told me her story a couple months ago. But if you are a European or Pakistani – especially if you are Pakistani – you have heard of Ruth Pfau.  You may be a Pakistani Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, or agnostic, but you have heard of Ruth Pfau. Her life is an embodiment of power and love, and an enduring example of faithfulness to God, to employing one’s gifts for the sake of others, and to extending compassion and care to all. 


Known as the Mother Teresa of Pakistan, Pfau was a German Catholic nun and trained medical doctor.  Born in Leipzig, Germany in 1929 to Lutheran Christian parents, her home was destroyed by bombing during World War II and she witnessed her younger brother die. During the 1950s she studied medicine at the University of Mainz.  During her graduate school years Pfau met with a Dutch Christian woman who was a concentration camp survivor and who dedicated her life to “preaching love and forgiveness.”  This friendship had a deep impact on Pfau and prompted her to join several spiritual reading groups, leading her to convert to evangelical Protestantism. In 1953 she subsequently converted to Roman Catholicism, stating that she learned the “courage of being human” from St. Thomas Aquinas through the writings of Josef Pieper.


In 1957 Pfau traveled to Paris and joined the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary, a Catholic order.  Of her calling Pfau stated, When you receive such a calling, you cannot turn it down. For it is not you who has made the choice. . . . God has chosen you for himself.  Her order sent her to southern India but due to a visa issue she was forced to remain in Karachi, Pakistan.  This proved to be providential as she would go on to devote 55 years of her life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan. 


When Pfau arrived in Pakistan in 1960 the life of leprosy victims in the country was filled with suffering, ostracization, and ignorance.  A single visit to a leprosy colony unsettled her deeply.  Pfau saw that leprosy patients were living in open sewers, heavily infested with rats.  She recalls: I could not believe that humans could live in such conditions. That one visit, the sights I saw during it, made me make a key life decision.  That key life decision would lead Pfau to contribute to the establishment of 157 leprosy clinics across Pakistan that have treated nearly 60,000 people.  By 1996 the World Health Organization declared that leprosy had been controlled in Pakistan.


When Pfau died in 2017 she was given a state funeral. Pfau was well-respected by Muslims in Pakistan who were the majority of patients at the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre to which she gave leadership.  Saleem Maseh Amir stated that “her faith, service, and love” were demonstrations of the spirit that inspired inter-religious dialogue.  In 2018, Pfau’s private residence in Karachi was converted into a museum to showcase some of her personal belongings. In 2020, the President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi inaugurated the Fazaia Ruth Pfau Medical College in Karachi in her honor.  


Pfau was empowered by a faith that trusted God for his workings in her life and world.  This faith was characterized by the power to heal, the power to educate, the power to love in ways that engender freedom, commitment, and health. I did not regret anything much, Pfau once reflected; but I’ll say one thing: leading a life committed to service does protect the soul from wounds. These are the workings of God. (DG)


To learn more about Ruth Pfau explore the following video and website:


Video:   View Now »


Website:  View Now »



Each month we recommend films focused on our theme

Feature Film

Spotlight (2015)

When the Boston Globe's tenacious "Spotlight" team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.  Winner of two Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the movie Spotlight chronicles the efforts of a team of journalists to bring to light the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in Boston.  The film elucidates the power of serious investigative journalism to illuminate and expose the abuse of power and position in the church, the legal profession, and government.  Directed by Tom McCarthy.  Rated R.  Available on various streaming services.

Documentary Film

The Power of Love/The Story of Us (2018)
Narrated by Morgan Freeman

Can love change the world? Morgan Freeman is on a global quest to understand how this primal force binds us together as a species. From orphanages to battlefields, from arranged marriages to life on the streets, Freeman sees how love can be found in unexpected places and how this power inspires us all.

View Now »

Short Film

Champion Wrestler Surrenders a Match

(3 minutes)

As a state wrestling champion, Marek Bush had little competition. But when he faced a fierce component who got injured, he decided winning wasn't important. CBS’s Steve Hartman has their story "On The Road."

View Now »



TED Talk 

Why Ordinary People Need to Understand Power

(17 Minutes)

Far too many Americans are illiterate in power — what it is, how it operates and why some people have it. As a result, those few who do understand power wield disproportionate influence over everyone else. "We need to make civics sexy again," says civics educator Eric Liu. "As sexy as it was during the American Revolution or the Civil Rights Movement."

View Now »



We Were Seduced by Power
By Jamin Goggin

In this revealing 2017 article in Christianity Today, Jamin Goggin joins four other pastors to confess their temptations to manipulate, control, and cling to worldly significance. Goggin begins the article:


This is a confession. It is an outing of the truth that, as a pastor, I have embraced a form of power in ministry antithetical to the way of Jesus. There is no salacious story to tell, no tale of “moral failure”—at least not as it is usually defined. I am repenting of selfish ambition, prideful autonomy, and manipulative leadership. These are, of course, real moral failures.


This is not to say that I didn’t have a true Spirit-led calling and longing for ministry. I desired to faithfully preach Christ crucified and to feed Christ’s sheep. Yet I did not have a holy heart. Deep within me, woven within Spirit-given affection for God’s kingdom work, I harbored desires for significance, recognition, acclaim, and notoriety. I wanted power.


We encourage you to read this illuminating article on power in its entirety here:

View Now »




Each month we recommend a book (or two) focused on our theme

Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power

By Andy Crouch

Power corrupts—as we've seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play God in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have made us suspicious of those who wield influence and authority. They too often breed injustice by participating in what the Bible calls idolatry.

Yet power is also the means by which we bring life, create possibilities, offer hope and make human flourishing possible. This is "playing God" as it is meant to be. If we are to do God's work—fight injustice, bring peace, create beauty and allow the image of God to thrive in those around us—how are we to do these things if not by power?

With his trademark clear-headed analysis, Andy Crouch unpacks the dynamics of power that either can make human flourishing possible or can destroy the image of God in people. While the effects of power are often very evident, he uncovers why power is frequently hidden. He considers not just its personal side but the important ways power develops and resides in institutions.

Throughout, Crouch offers fresh insights from key biblical passages, demonstrating how Scripture calls us to discipline our power. Wielding power need not distort us or others, but instead can be stewarded well.  An essential book for all who would influence their world for the good.

View Now »

Children’s Book

What’s My Superpower

By Aviaq Johnston & Tim Mack


Nalvana feels like all of her friends have some type of superpower. She has friends with super speed (who always beat her in races), friends with super strength (who can dangle from the monkey bars for hours), and friends who are better than she is at a million other things. Nalvana thinks she must be the only kid in town without a superpower. But then her mom shows Nalvana that she is unique and special, and that her superpower was right in front of her all along.

View Now »



Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme


Devote some time and thought to these reflective questions on our theme:

a.   What comes to mind when you think of “power?”

b.   Do you view power as a good or bad thing?  Why?

c.   What form(s) of power has God entrusted to you in this season of your life?

d.   In what ways have you misused power?

e.   When you have the upper hand or the high ground, how do you tend to relate to others?

f.   Are you more focused on acquiring power or stewarding it for the sake of Christ and others?



2.     SONG: POWER by Elevation Music

View Now »



In this article by Kate Hanch in Christianity Today, Hanch shares what Zilpha Elaw, Julia Foote, and Sojourner Truth taught her about God’s “withness.”

View Now »




In this short article by J.D. Walt in Seedbed, Walt looks at the example of how Christ faces the temptation of exercising power in the wilderness. 

View Now »



5.   PRAYER – From Ephesians 3:16-19


I pray that out of his glorious riches

he may strengthen you with power

through his Spirit in your inner being,

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you,

being rooted and established in love,

may have power, together with all the saints,

to grasp how wide and long and high and deep

is the love of Christ,

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge –

that you may be filled to measure of all the fullness of God.

dig deeper


But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.

(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)


CULTIVARE is a ministry of TEND and is offered free to our subscribers.  We are grateful to our donors who help underwrite our costs.  If you would like to support the ongoing work of CULTIVARE, please consider us in your giving. All financial contributions to TEND

(a 501c3 ministry) for CULTIVARE are tax-deductible.  

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Images used in order of appearance:

1.  OPENING: Duane Grobman, Church of the Transfiguration, Orleans, MA, 2018

2.   FIELD:   Marco Nuno Faria, National Geographic Your Shot

3.  SEEDS:   Bernie Boston, Flower Power, October 21, 1967

4.  ART:   Dean Mitchell, Rowena and Pretty Baby, Watercolor, 2017

5.  POETRY:  Eric Lassiter, Discover Los Angeles Flickr pool, Jesus Saves

6.   PROFILE:   Dr. Ruth Pfau at a charity event, May 2009.

Maik Meid via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

7.   FILM:  Peter Walker, Lichfield Cathedral display for All Saint’s Day, 2019,

photo by Chris Day

8.   ESSAY:  Thomas Hart Benton, panel from mural America Today, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1930-31

9.   BOOKS:  Moodville, Dreamstime, “Lion Facts,” National Geographic Kids

10.   DIG DEEPER:  Martina Nolte, Creative Commons, Hydroelectric Séliš Ksanka Ql’ispé

Dam (formerly known as Kerr Dam) at Polson, Montana

11.   ROOTED:  Marco C. Pereira, Huang Shan Mountains

TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Elizabeth Bolsinger, Amy Drennan, Greg Ehlert, Bonnie Fearer, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Nick Kinnier, Andrew Massey, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Heather Shackelford, Jason Pearson (Design:



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