Sunday, July 31, 2011


At some point during the last few days, I accidently stepped into the middle of a clip promoting a new documentary about to be aired on Oprah’s television site. It’s entitled “Serving Life” and deals with a program fairly recently commissioned at Angola, a maximum security prison in Louisiana. Younger, healthier prisoners, sentenced to spend the rest of their existence within the walls of this penitentiary, are volunteering themselves to administer hospice to older inmates, to just “being there as family” as those dying take their last few steps into eternity; and what little I witnessed within such short space spoke to my heart. Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, the dregs of society whose actions warranted a jury of their peers to so condemn them to no parole, no world at all other than that contained within these walls, somehow, in a bond formed by the stark reality of their situation, find compassion a part of who they are and commit themselves unto a fellow human being. The narrator of the film is quoted as having noted how, in taking “an opportunity for redemption”, these men remind all of us “of the connection that exists between each and every one of us”; and I think that puts it in perspective. We are communal, tied together in our environment, in our circumstances, on a battlefield of any sort tend to, at last, forgive each other’s flaws, seeing the “person within”, the truth that, regardless of our individuality, we are one in Him……

Friday, July 29, 2011


After ten days of wondering whether a broken front tooth would mean this old man would finally have to surrender to oral surgery and a set of false choppers, the dentist, yesterday morning, offered me the solution that not only takes care of the present problem, but also eliminates another void known for years in the space beside it. What’s more: financially, the cost is within my ability to meet! Truly, if this nearly four-decade walk with Christ has taught me anything, it’s that, beyond our natural tendency to worry about some things, there is also a peace we can possess, a knowledge that our life, in all ways, is held in His hands... Last night, sitting on the pool deck and relaxing after an early evening paddle over to the inflow’s soothing neck massage, I picked up my Bible and began again in the Book of Genesis, not so much reading as simply scanning those verses previously digested so many times. Two, in particular, caught my attention, causing me to ponder: (a) If, indeed, “every moving thing that liveth” was given unto Noah to eat, why did that change with the Law under Moses? (b) If the distinction of being a Jew began with Abraham, why would such a term as “the isles of the Gentiles” be utilized here in this passage separating Noah’s descendants from others?... For me, even if the Holy Book is, as many claim, infallible and without error, that in no way dismisses the truth of there being, within it, questions yet to be answered, mysteries to be explained, and points where, denominationally minded, we find ourselves divided in our individual interpretations. My own experience has been that assurance is not a matter of my faith in the Scripture, but in a “connection” encountered here and there, in a prayer closet, on a walk through the park, in a back yard staring up at a universe full of stars. To each their own stumble down the path, their own journey…..

Thursday, July 28, 2011


After a three-hour class on emergency medication procedures yesterday morning, a last minute substitute attempt to replace at least some of the time lost on Tuesday’s surprise cancellation, my afternoon was given to miscellaneous activities in whatsoever order as Beth determined. On our way to the mall, however, to transact some sort of business with Penny’s, a phone-call suddenly reconnected us with my cousin’s daughter and her niece, family that I haven’t seen in forever; and, learning that they had just sat down in a nearby restaurant for a bite to eat, we immediately altered our intended course to join them for a brief reunion. Actually, it was nearly an hour or more of conversation, long enough that I tipped the waitress well for our intrusion, but how good it was to chat, to see them again, to speak of “now”, to remember “then”. History revisited, though, often seems to have its share of sadness as well as nostalgia, things learned, things that make one wonder about, as Paul Harvey used to put it, “the rest of the story”… Humanity, to me, is a perplexity, a mystery almost as deep as the Creator, Himself. God may well be unfathomable in any sense of our possessing any understanding of all that He is; but, as far as I’m concerned, that just is part of the equation. People, on the other hand, ought to be somewhat more definable in “what makes them tick”, explainable in whatever it was that “produced the present person”. We aren’t. Whoever we are, whatever we are, we remain individuals, all of us, and the best we can do, by God’s grace, is to struggle to see each other through His eyes……

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


This will be my tenth year working in Elementary Special Education. I love the kids, but dealing with all the expectations simply assumed of one as part of the assignment gets to be a little more nettlesome each time around. Tuesday was but one more fly in the ointment. Our annual salary is determined by an established number of school days plus twenty-four hours of classes, stretched over twelve months and dispersed to us bi-weekly. They provide a variety of courses. Signing up for them is our decision; but, always it seems, things change at the last minute and, often, one is left trying to raise Lazarus from the dead. Case in point: Yesterday and today would have given me half of my quota, a choice made in May and a verified finality until I was merely two blocks from walking into the facility where it was supposed to take place, lunch packed, work traffic and highway construction conquered, gasoline close to four dollars a gallon, when my cell-phone went off, a friend letting me know the event had been cancelled. Stopping in at the front office, I learned that the building was, and has been, under repairs, and no one, anywhere, knew anything at all about anything. Now, trying to find other possibilities in an agenda where there are almost no seats yet available is like panning for gold on a claim long ago emptied by others. I’m getting too old for this…. Naah; maybe when this calendar trip is done. Fall Break, Thanksgiving and Christmas Break, Spring Break, and recess all await me. Art, Computer, Music, P.E., and Library call to me. Pinned to a small corkboard in front of me are snapshots of nearly every child I have been blessed to help in some way since my retirement from the railroad. God, I believe, opened the door for this job; and I believe He’ll let me know when it’s over……

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


In spite of a temperature yet in the low nineties, about five o’clock yesterday afternoon I opted to attempt a shorter version of my walk through the park. The clouds overhead didn’t seem to be threatening and kept shifting to provide occasional relief from the sun, a slight breeze also providing temporary coolness in its mischievous game of hide-and-seek. I skipped my usual lap around the soccer field. That shortened the route by fifteen minutes and, an hour later, sweaty and no worse for the exercise, the old man returned, mission accomplished, needing a shower, but opting, instead, for a dip in the pool. The daughter next door has an enclosed, above-ground one, fair-sized, the son-in-law’s grapevines grown to such extent that they have formed a wall along two sides and captured the overhead trellis above the deck area.
It was all mine, for a bit, the family elsewhere, the water simply cool and refreshing as I slid into it, the trees in my back- yard giving shade to most of its surface. It was quiet, peaceful, me just floating, paddling, a big walrus enjoying the moment. Then, at the far end, the force of the pump recycling a flow into the pool took me by surprise. Mark must have just cleaned the filter out or something. It was hitting me like a jet stream. Turn around. Back up to the source. Submerge somewhat and let it beat against the base of my neck. For awhile there I was in heaven….It doesn’t always take a prayer closet, an altar in the woods somewhere, a candle-lit sanctuary. It doesn’t always require tongues, although it’s been my experience that complete connection somehow finds me there. A stop, a rest, some time set aside for the brain, the spirit, the soul, to focus on Him, however, is essential to one’s well-being. I take them wherever I find them, whenever and as much as they come to me……

Monday, July 25, 2011


People raised within another denominational tradition might have a hard time with much that takes place in a Pentecostal worship service. Beyond the raising of hands and the acceptance of congregational voices, individually or in en-masse, speaking praise unto God or perhaps a few words of agreement with the pastor is “normal procedure”. We find nothing wrong with believers leaving the pew and giving freedom to the Holy Ghost, whether expressed through tears and tongues, walking the aisles, or falling in at the altar. We sing a song and we take it to the “end”, to the point where any and all connection with Christ contained therein has, for the moment, been wrung out of it. Sermons are a matter of individual reception… I have returned to this present assembly after a ten-year move elsewhere, three of my daughters raised within its teachings, two yet holding membership there. My absence had nothing to do with finding fault in its traditions, merely a dislike for where the church was going with its format. With age comes a resistance to change. Here I sit. Somewhere in the interim, though, my humor has returned to me. While that old bunch I joined back in the early seventies would be startled to see a fellow accepted into the “baptized and born-again” at the beginning of the evening and then go forward to be “saved” in the finality of it all, likewise another man who, having been “dunked” along with others in an initial ritual, later, as if to validate the immersion, asked for prayer to obtain his salvation. I now look at such things and smile. It is: a process. If anyone could read my mind at times, though…. Yesterday morning, as the announcements flashed on the screens up front before we ever got started, one caught my attention in its wording, giving notice that businesses could advertize in monthly magazine for a “donation fee”. Oxymoron? I think so; but it’s pretty good odds that Jesus probably looks down on us and just shakes His head over a number of things……

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Mental Illness........................."

Current news is usually not something that occupies my thoughts here. This recent tragedy in Norway, however, is an exception, such senseless disregard for life obviously calling for some explanation as to what would so corrupt a man’s mind, bring him to insanity. I hold no answers, but do repeat descriptions of the fellow declaring him to be both: a “Freemason, Rome-leaning, Protestant fundamentalist” and an “anti-Marxist, anti-Nazi, pro-Israel, anti-multicultural” man with a lot of problems. If just half of those labels are true, it seems to me what we’re looking at is a Timothy McVeigh clone providing plenty of fuel for the claim that Christianity has its own share of “jihadists”, evidence enough that religion, alone, doesn’t cure humanity.…Driving out to church this morning, I as treated to a rare sight, at least one not normally encountered in the suburbs. Two wild turkeys came from the far side of the four-lane highway leading about eight babies, the brood probably able to fly, but everybody walking anyway, ignoring traffic and finally hopping a concrete wall on the other side to reach the creek. As to why they crossed the road in the first place, I have no idea. Nature is nature. Life happens….Most certainly, in our possessing “intelligence”, we are more than “beasts”, but there are no guarantees, no magical formulas preventing stupidity, eliminating evil. If animals act out of instinct, men are prone to follow whatever passion grips their heart and, if that’s not been filtered through a genuine relationship with the Creator, error is always possible. EVERYbody’s on a journey. It matters to whom we hand the reins……

Saturday, July 23, 2011


In spite of all the torrential rain that blew through here during the Spring months, I noticed, on my walk this morning, that the park creek was down to no more than a pool here, a pool there, joined by an arterial flow yet trickling, making its way across bedrock. Whether the heat or just my mood lately, this was my first attempt at exercise since Monday and the creek spoke to me of life, in general, ups, downs, highs and lows, another breath, another day, you just keep moving. If that sounds monotonous, well sometimes it is, on the exterior, anyhow.
Deeper in is another flow, however, pools that feed my soul, spiritual waters fed from a stream not of this world…. My mind goes full-time on such journeys. Sweat proving my pace adequate for an old man, one foot after the other in mechanical cadence, and my thoughts turning over Christianity as a whole, I ponder Church history, where we are today as the Body of Christ, where someone like me fits into it all. Too easy to just follow the crowd, likewise, to chase one’s own opinion into rebellion. For me, truth is a connection, a reconciliation with a Reality who verifies such relationship as we go; and, truth is, that means, in my case at least, a stumble down the path…. Nearing the small bridge that leads me back home, it occurred to me that so often I tell others, in ministry, how we exist mostly in our heads, but God meets us in our “bellies”. I do believe that, having so often experienced that place where “two become one”. Providing some formula that automatically ensures our ability to descend unto such oasis, though, is beyond me. It just “happens”; and frequently, it seems, it just “happens” when I’m focused, in whatever manner, on Him……

Friday, July 22, 2011


My wife just departed for her regular Friday morning appointment with the hairdresser, the granddaughter yet asleep, this being her fifth consecutive day visiting with us, a practice that I’m embracing for as long as it lasts (she does turn eleven in a few weeks). Summer vacation is rapidly coming to a close, the heat the last few days like an oppressive blanket over all and the swimming pool the only escape. My two small air-conditioners, one positioned at either end of the house, are not enough to eradicate such temperatures and our fuse box wasn’t built to stand the strain of additional wattage. Nonetheless, we survive. Beth’s world, other than the climate change, yet revolves in a normal, consistent, chaotic chain of events: the laundry is an eternal chore, the house is a “mess”, someone needs something and needs her to accomplish it. Relaxation is a television set, in the evenings, Fox News filling in any and all space where her few likes have been reduced to re-runs. Me? I help when needed and join her occasionally for a dose of O’Reilly, Huckabee, or maybe even Kyra Sedgwick on “The Closer”, enjoying some of those detective series until they seemingly turn into nothing more than pornographic soap operas. For the most part, though, admittedly, I “live in my mind”. In truth, I don’t just “live” there, I go exploring there, looking under rocks, examining intrusions, theorizing what-ifs, my very existence, a matter of mental “escape”, an oasis that keeps me in focus, taking me to an even deeper river flowing from on high. Putting things down on “paper” affords me the chance to better sort it all out, every breath I breathe and the next step providing fuel for the fire.....

Thursday, July 21, 2011


For me, last night at the mission was like splashing in the water, trying to fall in and swim, but never quite managing to find the flow. Even though the room was air-conditioned, the stifling heat already endured that day seemed to have left all of us a bit exhausted and, while our words were well received, fellowship embraced, somehow that point where we, in unison, become one with Him was never reached. It happens. Such occasion, however, in no way means that nothing was accomplished. That which was shared was broken and eaten. Seed was sown. His name and His goodness was lifted up… I’m reading a John Hagee book, “In Defense of Israel”, my pastor’s church in Pensacola very much into CUFI, a national grassroots organization birthed in the hope of showing Christian support for this land and these people from whom our own faith emerged. In truth, the perusal has opened my eyes a bit, my previous reasoning for why America seems to have abandoned its commitment to the Jews pointing to (a) the Muslim influence now residing within our borders, and (b) a President whose history is entangled therein. What the preacher, in this volume, however, makes known is a Church whose own past has shown it gullible enough to have often followed anti-Semitic propaganda to the extent of committing murder and mayhem, a fact which cannot be ignored in a declaration of who we are, as believers, today. The problem, as I see it, is not in the Kingdom of God as Jesus delivered it unto us, but in a “membership” blind in attempting to regulate it out of its own carnality rather than the reality of Christ “in” me, the actuality of those last three words equating to an “anchor-line stagger down the path”…..

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Philip Yancey quotes the 2nd century theologian Iraneus as saying “The glory of God is a person fully alive”; and then adds, in his opinion, how, sadly, such description does not reflect the image that many people have of Christians today. Rightly or wrongly, we are often seen as being restrained, up tight, repressed men and women who are less likely to celebrate life as we are to wag our fingers in disapproval. Where did believers get the reputation of being life-squelchers instead of life-enhancers? Indeed, what keeps us from realizing life “more abundantly” as promised unto us, at least in such a way as to share it with others?...This being the third Wednesday of the month, our group is scheduled to return to the rescue mission for an evening service. We will go, as usual, with no lengthy three-point sermon to preach, but trusting in His faithfulness to be there with us. The Book will not be abandoned. I’m sure there will be reference to chapter and verse in there somewhere. It is, however, a manifestation of His presence that we seek, an affirmation of His reality, in whatever form it comes, an assurance that His love covers all. The journey thus far has taught me that the flow of that stream comes out of a man’s “belly”, not his head. Reason need not be thrown to the wind, but if it isn’t surrendered to Wisdom personified, it usually only amounts to a lot of hot air…..

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


There are some dark clouds rumbling this morning, just over the hills to the east, an inconsistent sprinkle making threats, but thus far merely just a gray, dismal start to another day. The birds are silent. The squirrels and my little chipmunk friend apparently have no interest in getting wet. My mood matches the moment, my thoughts seemingly swimming in a cup of mud. It’s like walking in a thick fog where each step through a misty curtain merely gives access to more of the same. I caught some information on the television last night concerning the number of people in America who each year suffer traumatic brain injury, mostly from a car accident or participation in sports, but not entirely. About twenty percent die, but the others, roughly 1.365 million, are just released after treatment; and life, not just for them, but for those who love them, has been very drastically changed in many ways…. One never knows what the next breath might bring. I read all the time of men and women who have conquered adversity in one form or another, the loss of a child, a terminal pronouncement, or financial ruin. There is, within us, strength to fight, determination to endure, and some find it more so than others. We are individuals. To all, though, God extends Himself, an ever present source of promise, a commodity that serves us much better when such reality is fused in the depths of who we are and not just floating around in our cerebral matter…..

Monday, July 18, 2011


There was but two girls this Sunday morning at the Detention Center, one less that what occupied the bench along the rear wall last weekend. The same twelve year-old boy was there among the male majority, a group that included as well a large, husky, African-American who looked like he could easily wipe up the floor with any six guards who might take issue with him about whatever. I was but “extra fodder” for my friend, six of us present on this occasion, me only by an open invitation, and, in reality, my making it a crowd in terms of there being only an hour’s worth of space between us. Nonetheless, as it happened, the other five, each with their own “shot of the Holy Ghost”, flowed in a witness that somehow led to me standing before the kids with a good twenty minutes left on the clock. It hadn’t been planned that way. This was Chris’s group. The visit was his to close. The Spirit decided otherwise. Building on my previous message, in truth, simply stepping into that which the others had already plowed, I spoke to them of love, of it being God-given, tangible in the sense of our being accepted even though He know us in all that we are, an assurance of a bond that will never be broken, a voice that says to each of us “I believe in you”. We were one in that room, from beginning to end, from the front to the back, young, old, guards as much as anybody else. This, for me, is "church", not the location, but that temporary unification reached in Him.....

Saturday, July 16, 2011


About three fourths of the way into “Atlas Shrugged”, the hero usurps this country’s national airwaves, blocking an advertized speech by some politician on the State of the Union, and what the people hear instead is this fellow’s declaration of “truth”. Four pages into the message that he brings, I’m beginning to wonder if this guy isn’t just a broken record. Investigation reveals to me that, in fact, he’s only delivered thus far but one tenth of what appears to be the author’s personal credo, something she calls “Objectivism”, something, simply stated, no more than an atheist’s view of “I am; therefore I think”. After calling the Biblical tenet of “original sin” a “monstrous absurdity”, Ms. Rand then states: “Reality is that which exists, truth the recognition of reality, and reason, man’s only means of knowledge, the only standard of truth.” She speaks of a rational process as being a moral process, of a man’s judgment as serving for an authority for what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”…I skipped the “novel-within-a-novel”, having already determined the worth of digesting any more of what’s her call for humanity to utilize its brain in any and all evaluation of our identity. That portion of her theology is not wasted on me in so much as I find the lack thereof to account for much of what’s wrong with the Church: not that we who believe are mindless idiots, but that too often we settle for another fellow’s definitions, too lazy to “work out our own salvation”. The author makes some good points, in my opinion; she just errs in both omitting God as the genesis of her existence and refusing His rod and staff as some discipline in her journey…..

Friday, July 15, 2011


Thursday was a last minute decision for a three-hour road trip down to Barbourville Pentecostal Youth Camp, the evening service there including the crowning of this year’s “king and queen” To reign over the whole affair and my grandson almost unanimously winning the male portion of that regal event. It’s but a popularity contest, to be sure, but an exciting part of the five days they spend there, his victory one that makes me happy for him, proud to see him so well-liked, not only by his peers, but also by adults who know he lives with a commitment to his faith. All three boys, in fact, have long invested themselves into whatsoever is asked of them by the church. All the more precious to me, though, is seeing, not just them, but their mothers as well, pouring themselves into the altar that was opened after the evening sermon. For nearly an hour, kids prayed with kids, in groups one-on-one, tears flowing, words coming up out of their belly, with “moanings and groaning”, with compassion, grace, and the Holy Ghost, the bond with Him alive and working in their life. Tomorrow, of course, is another day, another page, a few more steps through whatever lies ahead. The moment was just an oasis, a re-filling, an assurance that He is with us through it all…..I just called my oldest daughter and we’re going back down this afternoon for another dip in the pool……..

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Normally, any occasional medical attention that I need can be obtained at a nearby extension of Veterans Hospital and those who sit with me there, waiting to see the doctor, are much like this old man. We may be well beyond our prime, but other than that which age brings to all of us, the proof of our having served is simply documented on paper somewhere. Wednesday, however, found me at the main facility, a thirty minute drive up the Interstate, where finding a place to park is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, the lot, itself, a wasted effort. Two blocks away, up a little narrow side-street, the un-ending chain of automobiles was finally broken. I parked, walked to the front entrance, and immediately noted a difference in the patients gathered there, outside where the smoking lamp was lit. Many had prosthetic arms or legs, evidence aplenty that my ten years in the Navy during the Viet Nam era was not much more than a Carnival Line cruise compared to the hell others had known. In the waiting room, an elder gentleman, whose hat more so than his physical appearance let me suspect our age to be similar, yet possessed all his limbs, but nonetheless seemed marked by a battlefield once encountered. What cut me to the quick, though, was seeing the same receptionist who, seated behind her desk on the other side of an open window, had just received me, a moment later pass through the area before me, confined to her wheelchair…..I wear that hat, pictured above, with pride; but never without a realization of so many others having given so much more than I. I believe, not simply in this country, but in those original convictions upon which it was founded. God save us from ourselves…..

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


There’s a spot in my backyard that has meaning only to me. It’s nothing elaborate, just an outside, wooden, two-seater bench built by my brother-in-law and positioned near a shrub that managed to survive last winter’s snow. What it serves is my frequent need to sit down and breathe, to simply stop and soak in the sounds of life around me. Other than the couple of squirrels who occasionally get brave enough to ignore my presence, a variety of birds is my main source of entertainment, feeding my thoughts every bit as much as they interrupt them. Yesterday three blue jays had my attention for some time, dancing around from limb to limb, the two males obviously sparring with each other while the female, seemingly, was merely enjoying so much rivalry on display in her behalf. Fun for me to watch, also; but, in the middle of it all, it struck me how, even though cartoons may “humanize” these events, giving creatures brains and emotions they don’t possess, in reality the whole scene was but a production governed by instinct, a ritual performed out of some original internal blueprint stamped within them by the Creator. They operate out of a program designed by God! Then it hit me: Is it any different with us? Aren’t we, too, meant to know an inner source of divine instruction? The schematics are not similar. I am not a beast. I do not function in a fashion void of mentality. I do need, however, that inner connection with His presence and how glad I am that, in Christ, that amounts to much more than a “genetic chip”…..

Monday, July 11, 2011


A face pressed against the glass of the small window in our front door, a blurred image that then ran into the darkness when Beth, in securing the house late Saturday evening, stepped up to meet it unexpectedly. I investigated her report and took some precautions, but sleep afterwards was hard to grasp. The railroad tracks are on a hill just above us, a hobo, perhaps, hungry and in need, scared as much by her as she was of him. Never in the nearly twenty years that we’ve lived here has that ever happened before; but this country is currently facing some serious hard times…. Sunday morning I arose early to sunshine, and a mischievous chipmunk sitting on the steps before that same entrance to the house. Beth opted to miss church in an attempt to make up for her loss of slumber; but it was my group’s scheduled visit with the kids at the Detention Center. Rested or not, I wasn’t about to miss that. My own thoughts were disoriented, any message to be shared really no more than a few puzzle pieces with no idea yet on how to assemble them into something that made sense. What’s more, during the ride over, the other members of the team each expressed their own similar lack of direction, feelings of mental fatigue. Nonetheless, within the depths of that facility, from the very start of fellowship with about twenty-five youth seated before us, there was a flow of the Spirit connecting us in one theme, taking us into a unity that included the guards. Ears were open to hear, minds to receive a truth that life, in all circumstances, is enriched with purpose and given meaning in abundance through a knowledge of His presence in our midst…..

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Suspecting that last night’s rain had probably muddied the path of my back-entrance into the park, I opted to drive around via the main highway, starting my daily three mile walk, on this occasion from the south end. My wristwatch determined the distance covered, it being the only option now for gauging my usual accomplishment, circling the soccer field to the north my only choice of putting mileage beneath my feet. If the route sufficed for a temporary substitute, though, it in no way encouraged me to think of it in the future, the fourth time around that elongated oval making me feel like a caged hamster inside one of those wheels, burning energy, but going nowhere….Between my perusal of Ayn Rand and Ravi Zacharias , thus far, my thoughts for tomorrow morning’s visit to the Detention Center are occupied with a man’s life possessing purpose. One of the main characters in “Atlas Shrugged” considered that all she needed was motion, no matter how small or in what form, the sense of an activity going step by step to some chosen finale across a span of time, for no day to die behind her, each containing all those preceding it and acquiring its immortality on every succeeding tomorrow, the inanimate universe knowing orbital existence, but man being set in a straight line of geometrical abstraction. Her problem, in my opinion, was in seeing it all achieved solely out of her own will, her own abilities. If we have no point of anchorage, no source of continual genesis, we just become dead men walking, chasing our own dreams, our own wills, and gradually being exhausted by the truth of our own humanity…...

Friday, July 8, 2011


The double root canal endured the other morning seemed a piece of cake, the most painful thing about it being the thought of paying the dentist what amounted to more than four hundred dollars an hour for his expertise. Last night, however, slight discomfort turned into somewhat serious throbbing, awakening me at one, requiring another dose of Advil, and sending me to my recliner where I alternately read and attempted slumber until four in the morning. No concerns today, though, other than a consistent need to catnap. Rain has kept me inside for the most part, “Atlas Shrugged” holding my attention, but digested in small portions between crossword puzzles and trips to the computer. Boredom equals boredom. At one point, I googled “images” in a search for something new, someone who could entertain me with their religious point of view on whatever; but the more I looked, the more I understood why the subject is not everybody’s cup of tea. There may be one God and one Book, but there is a variety of opinions out there, a multitude of messages, a plethora of preachers with prophetic perspectives. It’s no wonder people think anyone at all aggressive with the Word to be just another ding-a-ling fanatic. Faith is personal. To each their own. Witness comes through the Holy Ghost, doesn’t require swinging a sword, and should bring relief, not a dull ache…..

Thursday, July 7, 2011


My granddaughter came home with me after mid-week service Wednesday evening, bringing with her two of her friends, all of them excited about an overnight sleep-over and the prospect of an afternoon pool part today with the boys. Sitting with them in Bob Evans this morning and listening to their conversation while we waited for breakfast, for a few moments I went back in my mind thirty-some years to when our girls were that young, an old man and his memories. I do that a lot and in more ways than one… Nearly four decades ago I stepped into a born-again experience with Christ through an introduction to old-time holiness, possessing no knowledge of Biblical credos, having had no previous religious indoctrination (at least nothing that broke through to an understanding of basic beliefs). My theology started at square one, a mixture of sermons fed me from the pulpit and a stagger down the path as life, itself, (along with the Holy Ghost) directed and corrected my reasoning of it all. In truth, the process hasn’t changed all that much. I learned a long time ago that it matters not who delivers the message, it’s coming forth out of an imperfect vessel, one capable of twisting things to his own perspective; and, in like manner, it’s also being poured into a similar receptacle. Nonetheless, there is a Reality, there is a Third member of the Trinity, who manifests Himself here and there in the journey, often, in such a way as to remind us of such facts. My favorite high-school dictionary defines the word “holy” as being “evoking and meriting veneration or awe”. To me, that says “when God shows up, men fall prone in His presence”. Sometimes I think the present-day church needs to learn that all over again……

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


My wife, like many others, is shocked at the final verdict pronounced in the Casey Anthony trial, indeed the entire country seems aghast. While what little I have learned and witnessed of this mother’s personality and character, however, gives me reason to suspect her capable of it, yet there apparently never was any real evidence gathered to prove the accusation; and, had it been I, sitting there among the twelve, my own stone would have been likewise dropped in the dust. Don’t invite me to the lynching. It’s who I am… Beth thinks me a bit weird, running bath water completely out of the one spigot, steam still arising from its surface, its depths scalding my skin upon entry. A shower is preferred, but only if its flow can transform that whole area into a sauna. What I like is to sweat, to surrender all my strength, all of my inner being, all that I know to exist within me being released through my pores; and then stepping beneath the spray for a cleansing. For me, it is much like physical prayer… Jesus once told Peter that those who have once been “washed” need but their “feet” ministered to on a regular basis. His instruction, though, was spiritually directed, not so much to a man’s lower limbs, but to that which affords us internal footing, that connection with our Father re-established in Him. We all, one day, will face judgment. Life, in the meantime, enforces its own system wherein we “reap what we sow”; and I’ve got my hands full with “me”…….

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


My youngest daughter and her husband took all the immediate grandkids with them and visited a local amusement park yesterday, staying late enough to witness the fireworks. My oldest girl and her hubby saw a rare opportunity for simply enjoying each other’s company and escaped to some secretly determined destination for their own holiday celebration. The neighbors in all directions, of course, began blowing up the vicinity Friday evening, the final explosions last night sounding like the Civil War was yet being fought from either side of the nearby creek. For me, the event is more a thought process than it is anything else, a remembering of how this nation was founded, an examination of our history, all that has happened along the way, and a consideration of where we stand now in testimony of the blood shed defending our right to govern ourselves. Freedom doesn’t mean unity. It, in fact, suggests the very opposite and, indeed, is defined by our diversity as a people. We are not one in our culture, in our environment, nor in our religious beliefs; but in our “country”, in our “bond as a band of brothers”, we come together as family, working out our differences even if the process isn’t always pretty. While picnics and programs, sparklers, roman candles, and rockets bursting in air…are nice, all this old man needs, then, is to see our flag. It speaks to me of Omaha Beach, Guadalcanal, and my father in the mountains of Italy. It reunites me with old navy buddies, duty stations, and experiences shared. I’ve saluted it on a small island in the Bering Strait, on a parade ground beside the chow hall in Monterey, and aboard ship in the Mediterranean. It matters not the occasion, a grandson’s basketball game or pledging allegiance with the kids at school, my heart is in it and a tear almost always forms in my eye. The Cross, alone, stands above it.....

Monday, July 4, 2011


Late Friday evening a phone-call informed me that, once again, a holiday weekend opportunity was deemed more important than a man’s commitment to ministry. The actual reason for the last minute cancellation, in fact, remains unknown to me and I probably shouldn’t be so quick to voice my opinion, especially when I then, myself, declined the offer of filling the vacancy at the Detention Center. Spur of the moment reasoning told me that the other members of my team, no doubt, already had plans with their families and the look on my wife’s face let me know that she wouldn’t be pleased should I accept, the next two Sundays already inked in on my calendar for church with the kids. Reaching out to others doesn’t mean one abandons responsibilities and affairs of the heart. All day Saturday and the following morning, though, I wrestled on the inside with a mixture of guilt and disappointment, knowing full well that there have been plenty of other times when the same circumstances hadn’t prevented me going. Had I missed a door that God had opened? Did no one else show up to show concern for these youth who, for the most part, have probably known little evidence of anyone caring? Life happens in the act of breathing and we don’t always get the convenience of sitting down to reason things out, of praying through on some individual matter. Nonetheless, He remains faithful, an oasis to which we can return, a fountain of grace and love, a place of rest and restoration…..

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Still reading “Can Man Live Without God” by Ravi Zacharias, I picked up a paperback copy of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” the other day and, only six chapters into it, find myself captured by a story written in 1957 that seemingly resembles today. She divides society into what appears to be a liberal right that thinks “equality” means wealth shared among all, a rich left (referred to as “looters”) that reasons those who have - should have more, the two extremes punctuated by a few individuals living with an “ethical” credo, a belief that a man’s life should have a purpose. The problem with that last group (as far as I can determine at this point, anyway) is with their definition of such term, leaving God out of the whole script. In that first book mentioned above, the author points to four essentials for humanity to possess meaning for their existence: wonder, knowledge of truth, love, and a sense of security, providing some good reading on the how, the what, and the why thereof. When all four draw their strength from a relationship maintained with the Creator, it matters not the person, it matters not the perspective. Christianity is not about how well we’ve got it all together, but how willing we are to give Him this day, this moment. Each of us is a work in progress, separated only by our segment of eternity, our environment and history within that segment as it has come to us, and the shaping of our genealogical inheritance…..