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ISSUE No. 41 | January 2024


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 INVITATION. As we begin a new year, the Cultivare Team encourages all our readers to spend some quiet reflective time contemplating the following questions: What is God inviting me to understand, experience, or do this year? How can I be more attentive to God’s invitations in my life? What is God inviting me to? defines “invite” as: to request the presence or participation of in a kindly, courteous, or complimentary way, especially to request to come or go to some place, gathering, etc., or to do something. Presence, participation, and promise are integral to an invitation. One could even say the word “invite” carries with it a sense of intimacy. Invitation connotes belonging – something each of us desires and were created for.


When it comes to invitations, we find the words of theologian and philosopher Dallas Willard to be both illuminating and compelling: We are invited to make a pilgrimage – into the heart and life of God. Our hope is that 2024 can be that for each of us – a time when our individual

pilgrimages take a turn into the depths of God’s heart and life – and in so doing, bring comfort where there is grief, clarity where there is confusion, joy where there is sadness,

hope where there is despair, trust where there is fear, and freedom where there is captivity.


To that end we feature an essay by John Stott entitled The Greatest Invitation Ever Made. We spotlight M. Robert Mulholland’s book Invitation to a Journey, and the song Invitation by Aaron Keyes and Micah Massey. Our poem of the month is by Mary Oliver and our profile is on Daryl Davis whose life example is a powerful testimony of serving as a bridge to set the captives of racism free.

In my experience, our omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God is continually and graciously extending invitations to us on a daily basis. In our busyness and preoccupation, we often miss them. We only need to pay attention and remain attuned. May the Spirit empower us to say yes to God’s ongoing invitation to greater freedom-- the freedom to be the men and women He created us to be. May we each journey forward to greater freedom this year. (DG)


Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. (Matthew 11: 28-29 MSG)

Then the King will say to those on his right,... “I was a stranger and you invited me in...” Then the righteous will answer him,... “When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?.” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25: 34-35, 38, 40 NIV)

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20 NIV)



A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life


We are invited to make a pilgrimage – into the heart and life of God. (Dallas Willard)

Go figure out what this Scripture means: “I’m after mercy, not religion.” I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders. (Eugene Peterson)

The waiting that God invites us into is not a dull void but an invitation to participate in God’s

own life. (Andrew Root, Blair D. Bertrand)


Our weakness is an invitation to discover God's strength. (Carlos A. Rodriguez)


The most sacred invitation that a person can extend to us is to invite us into their pain. But that means that we have to choose to knock on a door that we often prefer to pretend is not there. (Craig D. Lounsbrough)


Sadness is an invitation to God. (Kamand Kojouri)

Always reject the invitation to anger, it is not worth honoring. (Khuliso Mamathoni)


If you are a dreamer, come in,

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...

If you're a pretender come sit by my fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in! Come in! (Shel Silverstein)

I am inviting you to go deeper, to learn and to practice so that you become someone who has a great capacity for being solid, calm, and without fear, because our society needs people like you who have these qualities, and your children, our children, need people like you, in order to go on, in order to become solid, and calm, and without fear. (Thich Nhat Hanh)




Written by Aaron Keyes, Micah Massey, Chris Garmon
Performed by Aaron Keyes & Micah Massey

Composer Aaron Keyes describes the song Invitation which he co-wrote with Micah Massey and Chris Garmon: “The heart of this song is saying we want to live in such a way as to be a prepared and welcome place for Jesus to take up residence through his Spirit. We recognize that God’s presence is in all places at all times, but his presence isn’t necessarily welcomed at all places in all times. So, in this song, we’re not asking God to come over - we’re inviting him to take over!"


We encourage you to take some quiet reflective time, watch (or just listen) to the song Invitation, and invite God’s Spirit to “take over!”     View Now


We hear You knocking, we hear You knocking
Make this house Your home, make this house Your home
We are the temple of Your Spirit
Make this house Your home, make this house Your home

We prepare a place
Eagerly we wait, we wait

Come in, come in
The door is open
Spirit come and fill this place
Come in, come in
Our hearts are open
We're inviting You to stay
Stay here with us

Open our eyes to see You in the ordinary
We don't want to miss You anymore
Open every eye to see everyday
Everything is burning with the glory of the Lord

Open our eyes to see You in the ordinary
We don't want to miss You anymore
Open every eye to see everyday
Everything is burning with the glory of the Lord
Everything is burning with the glory of the Lord
Everything is burning with the glory of the Lord

Come have Your way, Lord
We open up our hearts to You
Come do what only You can do
Yes, Lord
Come have Your way




By Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time

to linger

for just a little while

out of your busy


and very important day

for the goldfinches

that have gathered

in a field of thistles


for a musical battle,

to see who can sing

the highest note,

or the lowest,


or the most expressive of mirth,

or the most tender?

Their strong, blunt beaks

drink the air


as they strive


not for your sake

and not for mine


and not for the sake of winning

but for sheer delight and gratitude -

believe us, they say,

it is a serious thing


just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in this broken world.

I beg of you,


do not walk by

without pausing

to attend to this

rather ridiculous performance.


It could mean something.

It could mean everything.

It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:

You must change your life.



Daryl Davis

By Greg Ehlert

Born in Chicago as an only child to black parents, Daryl Davis grew up living in multiple countries as his father was a US diplomat overseas.  He experienced diversity in his schools where he met peers from over one hundred countries and learned to get along well with people who looked and spoke differently. While on furlough at the age of ten in the US, Davis carried the American flag in a local parade with his all-white Cub Scout troop where he was struck with trash, rocks, and other debris thrown by a group of onlookers.  In conversation with his parents after the event, he learned about racism for the first time.


Thinking his parents were lying to him, he asked himself, “How can someone hate me when they don’t even know me?”  Through high school and into his adult years, Davis began to engage in conversations with racist hate groups like the KKK and the American Nazi Party.  In each of his conversations with people from these organizations--low-ranking individuals to high-level leaders, Davis invited them to get to know him.  An accomplished blues/rock pianist who has played with famous musicians such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and many others, Davis’ musical skills gave him occasions to display his talents which created opportunities in unlikely places.


In a Netflix documentary entitled Accidental Courtesy, Davis’ pursuit of KKK members is chronicled where he displays dozens of hoods and robes of members who left the clan because of their interactions with him.  Davis’ approach is always the same, namely, “I am willing to introduce myself with an invitation for you to get to know me for who I am rather than who you perceive me to be.”  Davis’ straight forward and disarming manner instructs us that just a simple invitation to conversation can start a process that leads to transformation.  Davis believes that what makes us human can overcome our ignorance if we give the invitation to discovery a chance.


Discover more of Davis’ story and life example by exploring the following: 


1.  Accidental Courtesy Documentary Film:  View Now


2.  NPR Interview:  View Now


3.  Veritas Forum Talk entitled Audacious Love:  View Now



Each month we recommend films focused on our theme

Feature Film

The Matrix  (1999)


Have you ever had a dream that you were so sure was real? What if you couldn't awaken? How would you know the difference between dream and reality? When a beautiful stranger (Carrie Ann Moss) leads computer hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves) to a forbidding underworld, he discovers the shocking truth--the life he knows is the elaborate deception of an evil cyber-intelligence. Neo accepts the invitation to join legendary and dangerous rebel warrior Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) in the battle to destroy the illusion enslaving humanity.  Winner of four Academy Awards. Written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowshi.  Available on various streaming services.


Documentary Film

Won’t You Be My Neighbor  (2018)

For over thirty years Fred Rogers, an unassuming minister, puppeteer, writer and producer, was beamed daily into homes across America. In his beloved television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children in a simple, direct fashion about some of life’s weightiest issues. There hadn’t been anything like Mr. Rogers on television before and there hasn’t been since. As Rogers is quoted in the film: “Won’t you be my neighbor is an invitation to help somebody know that they’re loved and capable of loving.”  Available on various streaming services


Short Film

A Most Generous Invitation


Who would have thought – Chris Rowland packing for college? Certainly not Chris Rowland.  "It just happened so quick and turned everything around," Chris said. "This past year my life has changed so quickly."  From CBS News comes this encouraging story of inequality and a generous invitation. 

View Now

Ted Talk

An Invitation to Reexamine Your Familiar World

By Gillian Tett

Before entering the world of financial journalism, Gillian Tett was a cultural anthropologist who studied how the past influences our present thoughts and behaviors. In an entertaining talk, she shows how you can use an anthropological outlook to see the world with fresh eyes -- and welcome new and different cultural truths into your life.

View Now



The Greatest Invitation Ever Made
By John R. W. Stott

For our Essay this month, we have selected a sermon by author, theologian, and preacher John Stott.  For those unfamiliar with Stott, for 66 years he served All Souls Church in London, England where he led an extraordinary urban pastoral ministry.  In 2004 NY Times columnist David Brooks wrote an article entitled Who is John Stott?  In that article Brooks wrote: “To read Stott is to see someone practicing "thoughtful allegiance" to scripture. For him, Christianity means probing the mysteries of Christ. He is always exploring paradoxes. . .. What does it mean to gain power through weakness, or freedom through obedience? In many cases the truth is not found in the middle of apparent opposites, but on both extremes simultaneously.”


We think you’ll be encouraged and empowered by this sermon from Stott which was first published in Preaching Today in 2008.  In his sermon Stott comments on Jesus’ invitation to us all:

In Matthew 11:25–30, Jesus speaks what are among the most tender and appealing words he ever uttered: "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." These words have been immortalized in different ways. Some of us know them from Handel's Messiah, in that famous aria in which he combines these words with others from the prophet Isaiah: "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd. Come unto him."


Stott lived a long and full life.  He died in 2011 at the age of 90. We invite you to read and be blessed by his entire sermon at the link below. (DG)


View Now




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


An Invitation to a Journey

By M. Robert Mulholland

M. Robert Mulholland defines spiritual formation as "the process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others." Compact and solid, this definition encompasses the dynamics of a vital Christian life and counters our culture's tendency to make spirituality a trivial matter or reduce it to a private affair between "me and Jesus."

In Invitation to a Journey, Mulholland helps Christians new and old understand that we become like Christ gradually, not instantly. Not every personality is suited to an early morning quiet time, so Mulholland frees different personality types to express their faithfulness differently. He reviews the classical spiritual disciplines and demonstrates the importance of undertaking our spiritual journey with (and for the sake of) others.

This road map for spiritual formation is profoundly biblical and down to earth. In the finest tradition of spiritual literature, Invitation to a Journey is a vital help to Christians at any stage of their journey.

View Now


Murder on the Orient Express

By Agatha Christie


Murder on the Orient Express is undoubtedly one of Agatha Christie's greatest mystery novels. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

View Now


Childrens Book

The Doorbell Rang

By Pat Hutchins

Each ring of the doorbell brings more friends to share the delicious cookies Ma has made in this beloved classic. This enjoyable read-aloud picture book about friendship, sharing, and cookies can also be used to introduce basic math concepts to young children.

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 is the most unique/exciting/memorable invitation that you have ever received?

b.  How well do you do at taking notice of the ways God draws your attention toward what He is doing?

c.  What is God inviting you to give your attention to in this season?

d.  What invitation of God’s do you struggle saying “yes” to?  Why is it hard for you to say “yes” to God in this context?

e.   What are ways you can position yourself to become more attentive to God’s ongoing invitation to greater freedom? (Note: “Freedom” in this context is not to be confused or equated with permissiveness)

f.   Is God calling you to extend an invitation to someone to encourage them in this season?


Starting in February, TEND (Cultivare’s publisher) invites you to join us for an online discussion group for the season of Lent. Groups will meet once a month in February and March for a discussion of the content from the January and February issues of Cultivare and its application to our individual lives. Groups will be limited to 5-8 individuals per group in order to allow an opportunity for all participants to share.  For more information and to sign up for a group please email your name and contact info to:


At the conclusion of each issue of Cultivare are the words:  We’re listening: We welcome hearing your thoughts on this issue and suggestions for future issues. Email us at:    We invite you to do just that – let us know your thoughts on this issue and any suggestions you may have for future issues.  


In this article by Nathan Foster (son of author Richard Foster) he encourages us to view engagement in the spiritual disciplines as invitation – into a deeper experience and understanding of God and ourselves.  He offers practical advice on ways to engage in the spiritual disciplines.  For example:  One of the things I think helps people enter into spiritual practices is to undertake activities that are relevant and helpful to our particular time and season in life. Don’t be bound to doing a discipline the way others do it. Listen to the Spirit. What are you being led into? Where would God like to meet you today?  Published in Renovare Resources. View Now


        By George Appleton

Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the

depths of my being.  Show me the hidden things, the creatures

of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and 

hurts.  Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my

nature and my name.  Give me freedom to grow, so that I

may become that self, the seed of which You planted in me

at my making.


Out of the depths I cry to You . . .  



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.  

Subscribe to CULTIVARE for free! 



Images used in order of appearance:

1.   FIELD:  Amy Clay, 2018, Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat, Ballinskelligs, Ireland


2.  SEEDS:  Daniel Hinton, Department of Defense, CBS News, 2017



3.  ART:  Brian Bakke, Knock and It Might Open, 2007, Buenos Aires, Argentina


4.  POETRY:  Melissa Kuhnell and Chris Howlett, The Slow Road, 2021, Dun, France



5.   PROFILE:   Jonathan Timmes, Daryl Davis



6.   FILM:  Penny Little, 2019


7.   ESSAY:  Michael Yamashita, Shangri-La, 2012, Songtsam Lodge in Tacheng, Tibet


8.   BOOKS:   Yanick Targonski, Train from Ella to Kandy, National Geographic Traveller, 2015, Sri Lanka


9.   DIG DEEPER:  Teruo Araya, National Geographic Your Shot, 2019, Tokyo Plaza Omotesando, Japan

10.   ROOTED:   Duane Grobman, Altered Altar, Christ Cathedral (formerly Crystal Cathedral), 2022, Garden Grove, California

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



We welcome hearing your thoughts on this issue

and suggestions for future issues.

Email us at:

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