Wednesday, August 31, 2011


“Jeopardy” and “Millionaire” are two of my favorite television programs, possessing a knowledge of trivia not my greatest asset, but collecting bits and pieces of it, here and there, certainly a long time passion of mine. It stirs the mind and provides food for the journey. The other night, for example, I learned that only the first four of our solar system’s planets are “terrestrial”, the others merely spherical concentrations of gas. How such fact has escaped me all these years, I know not; but, beyond that, the revelation of it has me wondering why Pluto’s state of flatulence got it expelled from the line-up. So it goes with me, though: Questions. Questions. The universe will no doubt always be more than any clear definition we gain as we go. That doesn’t mean a man has to be content in his understanding of it… In our mid-week Bible study tonight, discussion concerned our gaining a “Biblical world view” of everything around us, our making the Book the source of all we believe. While I was in agreement with our being “grounded” in the Word, yet I noted how we, within the Church, shape God in our own image using chapter and verse, how, rather than having our perspectives set in concrete, we need, at the same time, to be “flexible” to the Holy Ghost. Carrying one’s cross means “following” Truth wherever He leads us, not believing we “possess” truth in a box. With each step there is another lesson to be learned, another piece of the puzzle to be gained. What we get in this is a Guide to go with us in the journey……

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Monday marked the beginning of our second full week of school, the first ten days given to getting the kids readjusted to room changes, renewing old acquaintance after summer break, testing the waters on just how well what’s down on paper works when rubber meets the road. Individual schedules have been learned, in so far as taking each child to specials such as art, music, and library, and now we have begun to introduce the basics: mathematics, vocabulary, working with clocks and money. It’s an Autism unit, so the room is almost always alive with the sound of someone crying, or screaming, or just filling the air with excited jabber. Such is the assignment. Keeping it from becoming, like any other job, merely a numbering of days, a paycheck and nothing more, requires a heart for what you’re doing, a belief that it matters, a remembering that He holds it all in His hands… I swung up the expressway exit ramp on my way to work this morning, a red traffic light momentarily halting further progress. There, on the grassy tract just outside my window lay scattered multiple beer cans, pop bottles, and one or two crumpled up empty snack bags. It irritated me, at least to some degree. How often have I pulled up elsewhere and, waiting to turn, noted lengthy piles of discarded cigarette butts, drivers apparently finding such pause to be excellent opportunity to empty their ashtrays and the mess left for the city sweeper to catch next time around. What brings humanity to such a place that there is no sanctity at all in the little things, life is but a “me, myself, and I” survival existence? Surely when His purpose for us is not part of the equation, it has to be, if nothing else, lonely out there……

Monday, August 29, 2011


Yesterday’s early morning sermon was entitled “When Challenge Exceeds Courage” and was delivered by the assistant pastor. I love to hear him, whether preaching from the pulpit, teaching in a class-room, or just in conversation with him as it comes to me. There is a fire kindled in the depths of who he is, an excitement, an exuberance that bubbles and shines in his eyes as he speaks. In this particular message, he pointed to the strength of our faith as depending upon the “object”, or “source”, from which we obtain it, referring to it as the “great gift” that all in Christ possess and going on to suggest that far too many of us settle for the “normality” of simply walking day by day with no real expectancy of knowing Him “alive” within us… During the evening service, then, near the end of worship, the lyrics to one certain song led to any within the congregation going through financial difficulties in any manner being called forth for prayer under a declaration of “the promise of prosperity pronounced by God upon the Jews now given unto us as believers”, such theme continuing for the remainder of the meeting. The message, again, embraced “faith”, but this time the man of the hour likened it unto an inner, divine connection with heaven on high, one bestowed to us “by” Christ, but one never given any personal identity other than a power we are meant to choose and utilize in the gaining of whatsoever… The second fellow had no less a flame than the first, his roots running down to drink from the same fountain; yet I find our vision blurred and our understanding in error when the Holy Ghost is not recognized as the very substance of such faith, the third member of the Trinity and the absolute authority in all matters. He is grace; He is wisdom; and when we fail to fall into Him, thinking ourselves “the swinger of the sword”, we may not be committing “high treason”, but we are, in my opinion, off center. It hurts me in my “belly”, even as, in prayer, I question if perhaps the old man doesn’t need some new bifocals……

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Super Glue............"

Somewhere within the volume of one of several books recently read, there was mention of Fray Luis Ponce de Leon, one of the maters of literature from Spain’s Golden Age. Barely surviving the Inquisition, having offended authorities by translating the Song of Songs into Spanish and criticizing the Vulgate, he was dragged from his classroom in the midst of one of his lectures, incarcerated and tortured for four years. Four years later, the old, stooped, nearly broken professor was allowed to return to the same university, indeed, the same classroom; and, opening his notes, he simply began by saying: “Como deciamos ayer”-(As we were saying yesterday), and then continued from exactly the same point in his teaching where he was when so rudely interrupted… The story returned to me about six yesterday afternoon, the first full week of school over and this old man’s brain, more so than anything else, in need of some quiet relaxation. The wife thought me a bit crazy when I abandoned my recliner, donned some sneakers, exchanged levis for cargo shorts, and wrapped a rolled-up bandana around my forehead; but that three mile stretch down and around the park gives me more than physical exercise. It’s a sanctuary, of sorts, a course usually travelled alone, but only so far as what others see of me. A few steps outside my front door, long before my feet turn north on the main road that runs beside the creek, my mind has already entered another world, examining life as it has come to me, the Gospel as I’ve heard it preached, as I’ve found it to be along the way. I’d describe that hour or so as “medicine for the soul”, as a “prayer closet” where my knees are not on the floor and my hands are not clasped together in “proper position”, yet, nonetheless, a time where “two become one” in an examination of the road thus far. There is no audible voice, neither His nor mine, unless, in the middle of it all, as it sometimes happens, tearful worship, often in tongues, begins to over-flow the well. Even then, though, it remains a private conversation, one not shared with others who are in the arena. Do distractions occur? Do my thoughts often fly like some bird, from branch to branch, my consciousness awakening to discover I’ve left Him “sitting in another tree”? So frequently as to embarrass me for my humanity, to make me thankful for both His patience and His fidelity. Always – He is right there where I left Him, waiting for the dove to return, still willing to fellowship, a little amused, perhaps, but just pleased with my hunger to know His presence in the journey……

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Wednesday’s mid-week class was the third in a series under the theme of “Fan or Follower”, a fifteen minute video clip with each session. The teacher, however, is a fellow with a great gift for drawing others into discussion and most of the ninety minutes we possess is a matter of sharing opinions, the “movie” an after-thought. In such manner, last night began with our considering the present state of America in so far as this society’s somewhat obvious loss of morality, he stating how, even though this country’s beginnings were founded in Biblical, it is easy enough to conclude the Scopes Monkey Trial the one historical event responsible for an ever-increasing erosion creating the cesspool we know today. If, initially, it only opened the way for the introduction of evolution to be taught in our public school system, such blow led to a complete restructuring therein, eventually the Ten Commandments forbidden to be displayed, prayer restricted and removed as well. As one might expect, there were plenty of “amen!”s, everyone in agreement that “the world” was guilty as charged… When somewhere along the way, though, a certain seminary, denominationally known for its Scriptural rigidity, was noted as recently having quizzed its incoming freshmen on whether they really believed Jesus to be “the only way by which a man might enter into heaven” and receiving a negative reply from eighty-six percent of those polled, this old man could no longer sit quietly minding his own business. “If that’s so,” I asked, “should we be pointing our fingers at the world, or at the Church? Doesn't the Word say that "greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world? Maybe the problem has more to do with us ritually demanding others to swallow our Christianity rather than sharing with them any evidence of Christ in us?”… Discussion was over. It was time to ponder it all while watching the next segment of the presentation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Price tags.........................."

Rummaging through my closet awhile back, I found an old journal began in January 2001, but abandoned June 28th that same year. Each page contains a devotional for that day, some sort of trivial anecdote followed by a question posed to be answered. Why should I have renewed the task in an effort to complete the volume a decade later is beyond me, but one entry in July gave me pause yesterday. Referring to an item in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not”, the writer pointed to an iron ingot being valued at no more than $5 as it was, but if fashioned into a pair of horseshoes, its worth rose to $50, if formed into sewing needles the amount jumped to $5000, and if made into balance springs for exquisite Swiss watches - the bar would bring $500,000! His point with such illustration, however, was to suggest that it was just the same with believers who would develop their talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts as a force for divine good in this world; but I would beg to differ… It is not our individual potentials that distinguish us in the eyes of God. Rather it is our willingness to be used of Him in whatsoever capacity He might require of us, for whatsoever commitment He might determine. While His calling may well be, as the apostle Paul declares in Romans, without repentance, nothing is necessarily permanent therein, in so far as any particular assignment. I’ve known far too many, along the way in this, who seemed to think the pulpit to be their only ministry, any other need beneath their dignity…….

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Sunday afternoon I watched the final portion of a ten disc DVD series on WWII as fought in the Pacific. It was Hollywood, not some documentary, too full of profanity to suit my tastes, but probably very close to what being in battle was like, enough to make you think you were right there on the island with them. It wasn’t the gore that held me, though. Watching soldiers die in various form and fashion is not my idea of entertainment. The human spirit, however, life as it is, does tend to stir my thoughts; and there was plenty of that within the cold hard facts of this one: men trying to make sense out of what seemingly had no rhyme or reason to it, death no respecter of persons, fear holding one’s breath in check, one’s actions merely an engrained response to lessons learned. One might examine the universe in its infinity and be in awe of its wonder, its beauty; but man’s inhumanity unto man leaves us empty, wounded in the truth of what we are on either side of that condition. Void of any connection with the One who created us in the first place, all things, including our own existence, begin to lose their significance. Day by day drifting without Him will eventually get us there, but the horror of armed conflict is an immediate examination of the soul…..

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Amigo......"

Sunday evening service was given to the youth, the final portion of it set aside for the elders to pray over them before their return to school. Kindergarten and up shared Bible verses and songs, the lyrics of which were often unable to be deciphered, voices too inexperienced with microphones. It made no difference. They were our kids. At the end of one little girl’s solo, the pastor came forward to speak of his own childhood, having been raised in old-time holiness, his parents faithful to their commitment and his learning at an early age a tangible encounter with Christ that yet feeds him as he goes. Ten people or more would go forward at his invitation for other to know such a reality in a relationship with their Creator… Still, just that morning, during worship, a friend had whispered to me of his father regaining his exuberance behind the pulpit, having recently resigned a position on our staff and returning unto whomsoever might ask him to preach. Knowing most of the circumstances leading his dad to such decision, I whispered back how this was a good church, but there is a freedom beyond it; and he replied “Yes; it’s a good place to come and not get involved!”… Whether coincidence or not, during the sermon, then, the pastor took us to the prophetic declaration of John the Baptist concerning Jesus immersing believers into the Holy Ghost and fire, that latter, according to the messenger before us, able to burn away all our impurities, all of our baggage and bondages. “Yes,” I thought; “It incinerates, yet does not destroy our humanity. We remain men.”……

Friday, August 19, 2011


For the last week or so, everywhere I look I see bare-naked ladies. Lest anyone think me delusional or just suddenly taken up with a walk on the wild side, though, the objects of which I speak are but a flower grown in these parts, a long leaf-less stem that shoots up about this time of year, getting maybe two or three feet tall before erupting into a pale pink blossom.
For most of their existence, they are merely an underground bulb and their short life span, over a decade ago, gave this old man the opinion that they were simply a nuisance, infesting my yard in such numbers. I must have dug up and discarded close to a hundred of them before Beth discovered my ignorance in such matters. She was not at all pleased… Rash reasoning has gotten me into trouble on many other occasions. As a young teenager transplanted from the inner city, it once seemed silly to me tearing my pants continually on a barbwire fence blocking my path out in the middle of nowhere. Never had I ever seen any livestock in the vicinity; and the next time I took such route to a buddy’s house over on another road a pair it was a simply matter to snip an opening through it. With his cattle shortly thereafter in need of a round-up, my future father-in-law was not at all impressed by my thinking… The Spiritual anchor-line received between the two incidents presented here, then, is obviously not a cure-all for the human condition. Mostly, even in Christ, we operate out of our individual decisions, our mentality as it has come to us in the journey thus far, His tug on that inner connection not necessarily a demand for obedience. We learn as we go, usually in a hard-knocks experience coupled with divine counsel after the facts as they are. Thank God for grace……

Thursday, August 18, 2011


The first day back to school yesterday found me arriving a half hour early and being extremely lucky to find a parking place, the lot plugged tight and overflowing, concerned parents making sure the little diddles weren’t frightened with their initial steps into new surroundings. Mostly, for me, and for the same reason, it was a day of re-acclimating children whose whole world is a pattern to be followed, re-introducing them now to the safety of our room, re-assuring them that a twenty minute late arrival in the afternoon didn’t mean their bus home had abandoned them. With our monthly visit to the rescue mission scheduled for seven o’clock, this old man passed out in the living room recliner after dinner and renewed his strength, sleeping straight through both episodes of “Millionaire”. Meredith never missed me… It was a strange beginning to our service with the men. My son-in-law had to side-track and pick up his saxophone, having left it at the church this past weekend, and I thought that he and I might be a few minutes late; but, as it turned out, Dave was the one who got stuck in traffic, arriving after we had already sung an opening hymn. The room was one with us, though, from the very start. Tony’s words about the Kingdom of God, as Christ described it in the Book of Matthew, being a continuous work that takes place within any man who commits himself to the journey had all hearts listening to the simplicity of his message. In his choosing to begin with the example of how bread is leavened with yeast, speaking with first-hand knowledge of how the process is accomplished, he did not realize my own intent that evening to utilize Jesus’ declaration of being “the bread of life”… In truth, I learned long ago that it is His wisdom, His compassion, His grace, and certainly not our humanity in any form, that spans the gulf, whether in an outreach ministry or in an inner-reach Special-Ed classroom. Wednesday was a good day on both ends……

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Mechanics, carpentry, tying my shoelaces – my general approach to any of it has long been to simply get it done and over with so I can go back to thinking about more important things. Not that I’m averse to labor. Just that I prefer the task to either hold my interest or allow me ability to not abandon my brain’s continual pursuit of other mysteries. Mowing the lawn, for example, is a great form of manual exertion… On occasion, there have been those moments of insanity when lack of finances, pride, or my wife’s insistence has driven me to attack the unknown. My Chevy Bel-Air needed new brake shoes on the front back in seventy. We were fresh out of the Navy, money was tight, and, after all, how hard could it be? Having stripped one wheel down to where it was possible to view all the elements to the operation, I probed with a screwdriver to investigate where to start and – KAPLOOEY! – parts flew everywhere. Younger then, I do admit to a few seconds of fear, but quickly determined it repairable. Quickly: it took me four hours to reassemble with the replacement by continually going around to the other side for a model on how to put it back together, fifteen minutes on its clone… August, 2011, Beth goes into one of her “rearrange the house” moods and moves a fireplace electrical heater across the house into the family room (it rolls), but discovers the “flames” now no longer working when she turns it on. Burnt-out bulb? I’m unscrewing the back panel to get to it, but am rudely given a wake-up call as suddenly something inside obviously drops to the bottom. It seems there is no “panel”, no entrance at all from the rear, what now? Resting overnight to consider it all, I learn in the morning that a lower magnetic “door” opens on the other side giving access to not only what needs replaced, but also an old man’s “fix” to what he created. Lying on the floor, groping in the darkness with a small pen flashlight, the dummy wins again… But will he ever get any wiser?......

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


While walking through the south end of the park the other day, in passing the ball fields I couldn’t help but notice the apparel one team was wearing, black t-shirts with the anagram “SWAT” in white letters across the front and the words “Spiritual Women” defining those letters on the back. At the “speed” I was going, the remainder was just mentally grasped as either “Assault” or “Attack Team” and it seemed a bit humorous, maybe even “strange” to associate the two labels together; but, then, this is not my grandmother’s generation. With my camera in my pocket, a decision was made to simply swap the soccer field on the north end for another lap here, hoping to get a picture on the next time around. As it was, the “A” translated to nothing more than “Alpha” and, for fear of my being thought interested in what did NOT bring me back for another look-see, I just kept moving, opting for the image posted above. It “worked for me”… In truth, though, my erroneous first deciphering of the message has stayed with me, knowing that there are those within the faith who would, indeed, find there to be some sort of “honor” in possessing that classification. It’s not that I don’t believe in “doing battle with the enemy”, just that it’s been my experience that victory is a matter of me surrendering “self” unto Him, holding on while He conquers in whatsoever manner He chooses, and then acknowledging that all “glory” is His. Too many these days, it seems, are too quick to think themselves the one with the sword……

Monday, August 15, 2011


Sunday, for me, was just the last day before another nine month ride through the school year, a day punctuated on either end with a church service and, sandwiched in-between, a few lazy hours wherein the recliner occupied most of my time. Morning worship was “upbeat” and failed, in my opinion, to “find the flow”. Evening, from beginning to end, was simply a matter of fellowship. If Christ was in our midst, this old man missed such revelation, only the glow of an “inner connection” shining through the early preacher’s eyes as he delivered his sermon giving me any hope that we might corporately touch the hem of His garment… Surely it is what we, as individuals, not just bring with us to any meeting, but also invest into it, that determines our experience there as a whole. While there is much to be said for the truth that God, Himself, moves as He sees fit, His wisdom and His love governing any manifestation that comes forth, there is, however, as well, the need for a congregation to surrender themselves unto each other in a unified bond with Him as the Spirit directs. Stir in a hunger for and an expectancy of a Reality to be encountered. Abandon all efforts to manufacture it on your own. Somewhere in the mixture, here and there, heaven and earth meet; and when it does, just relax and fall into His well……

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I stood on my front steps the other night watching my youngest grandson wrestle with the neighbor’s bulldog pup and thought to myself how simple life can be at times. The boy had no worries at the moment, no thoughts or questions concerning the world around him. His grandfather, on the other hand, contemplating as always, soaking up the fun taking place in front of him and thinking about the complexity of the journey in its entirety, the mystery of it all if one only takes their head out of the sand to consider it. Easy enough, I suppose, for any of us, as Christians, to formulate a doctrinal foundation that supposedly assures us of an entrance into Heaven and then, by “faith”, just hang on as the days come to us. All things are in His hands. Just trust, believe, and keep walking. What that translates to, however, is religion, not relationship, something that Jesus, Himself, consistently warns us, within the red-letter portion of the Bible, to avoid. Questions? I’ve got a lot of them: Are my loved ones gone on, the rest of the world, for that matter, doomed to everlasting torment merely because they were never baptized, never proselytized to anybody’s individual dogma? Is Christ about the Book or is the Book about Christ? Why tragedy? Where is “sense” in the middle of all that the ecclesiastical community, as a whole, would have us swallow?... For me, it comes down to a place much akin to Noah’s canine encounter, a connection wherein all the interrogatives fade away and all I know is the joy of breathing. Salvation is not secured by who and what I am, but by who He is within me. Assurance is not earned by my credentials, but through His willingness to meet with me in spite of my mess, grace not a blanket dismissal of it all, but a temporal privilege as we talk things over……

Friday, August 12, 2011


A good friend treated me to lunch yesterday, my choice, chili and a Mr. Pibbs at Wendy’s, a great place for some lengthy dialogue without having to worry about the waitress losing tips. Our conversation, of course, concerned Christianity, in general, theological perspectives, the human component such as it is, Holy Ghost ministering through us and to us. How does one cram all that into an hour? One doesn’t. Up out of the well comes whatever is in one’s heart; and, in following Christ, I’ve never known that well to run dry, no place where He was ever able to be confined in a box, no spot where any definition of walking with Him could be set in concrete. Words cannot contain Him, our perspective understanding unable to grasp Him in His entirety, our vocabulary inadequate to fully express our experience in Him; and thus the need for study, for discussion, for sitting down and breaking bread with those of like passion. Not to argue. Not to “wage war” in an attempt to prove our personal point of view correct beyond all others. Fellowship is more than social gatherings, though. Salvation is more than membership, more than a profession of faith. Like those two who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus, ought not something “burn within us” concerning our own encounter? If, indeed, He has “lit our candle”, shouldn’t that flame be frequently calling us to sit down with Him and eat?......

Thursday, August 11, 2011


A six-hour CPR class yesterday brings me to within three hours of fulfilling that which is required of me each year toward an “educational growth” in relationship to my job. To be truthful, we skipped lunch and finished early, but nobody had any problems with that. The instructor was a lady with a history in nursing, EMT experience, and one felt as if hearing her was somewhat of an honor. First hand knowledge of conditions encountered, of things as they are, lessons learned along the way, were all shared in a mixture of her being both a mother AND a professional in the medical field. No boasting. Just “down to earth” stories of life as it came to her. Making me wonder if, in juggling the two labels, there isn’t need of that “anchor-line” of which I so often speak, that inner tug keeping us on track in that stagger down the path we all attempt…. Last night I sat in a small group embarking on a new mid-week Bible study entitled “Fan or Follower”, structured around a series of video clips wherein one man’s survival after a serious heart-attack brings about drastic changes in his profession of Christianity. A fairly wealthy individual, he sells his fancy house and reduces his family’s lifestyle so much that they question his rationality; and, in truth, it’s my opinion that ministry needs to be more clear in what we preach. It’s not a matter of our giving “all” in our commitment to the Gospel, but of our being “willing” to do so should He require it of us. This remains, step by step, a personal relationship, not an act of works as determined by whosoever’s interpretation of the Word……

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


It was close to seven last night when my oldest daughter called, asking whether her father wanted to walk. I had already bathed and settled in my recliner, cat-napping, if the truth be told, the option for a bit of exercise having been put to rest an hour earlier. The routine she follows is also mine, a half-mile down our road, then circle the park nearby before coming back in reverse. It takes a little over an hour. Sometimes she likes an extra lap around the soccer field. I don’t like her doing it by herself… The back entrance trail, taking us over a dirt path that winds through thick foliage, had been conquered. We were now at the far end of the bridge spanning the creek, the dog recreational area behind us, and as we stepped onto the cement trail at the far end, the sound of footsteps running across the metal surface of that bridge made us look behind us. It was a young child, six, maybe seven years old, a girl in a nice clean white dress, who, after pausing to examine our attention, ran past us as if chasing a woman a bit farther down. That jogger, however, veered off toward the parked cars. The child became intrigued by others playing in the creek, a younger woman sitting there beside them, one who gave no recognition whatsoever to the girl, and one who, a few moments later, we passed on the return trip, with but her own kids, the little girl no longer around… Who was her mother? Where was her mother? It has bothered me ever since……

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


In the last two days, I have attended three different two-hour classes, all designed to broaden one’s “bag of tricks” in working with school children, ideas to make lessons more than just a boring lecture, ways to make learning interesting and fun. Tomorrow’s six-hour CPR class is not one required of me, but could come in handy and leaves me just short of fulfilling such as they do ask of me in the way of gaining occupational education. Truthfully, though, working in this Special-Ed unit mostly demands love, patience, and an understanding of Autism. Our attempt to teach may involve mathematics to some degree, language to the extent of gaining a bank of vocabulary words, and anything more than that can be labeled under “Social Skills”. We’re dealing with possible vocational abilities, manners around others, and temper issues. It’s an arena where runny noses, sneezes, congested coughing, and an occasional foul smell that could peel the paint off the wall are normal encounters. Hand sanitizer and air-freshener are necessities. I always thought that, at this point in my life, I’d be volunteering for odd jobs at the church and visiting the sick in the hospitals. God had other plans, I guess. A small board is attached to the back of my computer desk with pictures pinned to it of all the kids I’ve taught in the past nine years. No regrets. None at all……

Monday, August 8, 2011


Sunday morning, as Beth and I drove out to church, we passed through the intersection where two people, a young couple in their late twenties, lost their life Friday afternoon in a collision, no error on their part, just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Now, with the sun not quite yet risen enough over the hills to claim our neck of the words, there was a car parked, just around the corner and to the side, an older man leaning against the guard rail, his arms folded across his chest, the flowers and memorials gathered there no doubt providing some sort of last desperate attempt to hold on to what so quickly was taken from him. In his eyes was a grief that came up out of his belly, an immovable knife in his gut, a realization that there was no going back, no way to change anything, no tomorrow that made sense…. I sat Sunday evening in a worship service, one that ministered to me, personally, with not much more “feeling” than what was gained earlier. It is not a mental attitude, at least not at this stage of the journey. There’s an understanding in me that time, itself, accounts for a natural sort of evolution, the generational shift giving birth to different tastes, different views; and it makes me happy to see my daughters and my grandchildren not just attending, but also involved in ministries. Still, what I seek to know in the midst of any interaction with fellow believers is much akin to what I saw there in the countenance of that father described above, not just an emotional state of mind, but an internal connection with reality. It may sound a bit strange, but sorrow, real sorrow, and joy, peace, praise and prayer – all come up out of that well deep within us, an oasis we fall into, rather than a flow we, ourselves, try to produce. You learn that along the way. Communion was special for me last night……

Saturday, August 6, 2011


“What makes you exist rather than not exist?”… In going back to re-visit a book before loaning it to a friend, I found myself gripped by this question, the author posing it not so much in terms of physically maintaining life, but rather of possessing “spiritual sustenance”, something which enables us to endure and to overcome all those negative things that come to us, just “part of the package”. My mother often lamented about having once asked my father if he thought he could live without her, he pausing before answering and explaining he had been thinking it over. It was he, actually, who died not too long afterwards and she who would go on to outlast two out of three other husbands; but whether or not those additional decades she achieved brought her any real joy, any “fullness” of having enjoyed such time is another matter. She labeled herself a “survivor” and indeed seemed at war with most everyone around her even unto the end… None of us knows what each day might bring. My oldest daughter’s nephew, yesterday evening, was returning home from dinner with his parents and, however it happened, at an intersection not far from my house, broadsided a passenger vehicle with his truck, killing the two people inside before they even knew what hit them. I can guarantee that there are at least two households this morning that know grief, people who woke up with their entire future shifted in perspective, a “knife in their gut” unable to be removed, reality unchangeable, the moment that was is as it is… Only a faith anchored in Him, in a resurrection made available unto us, provides a place of refuge, an oasis of assurance, a source of truth when nothing at all makes any sense. His breath renews us; His word steadies us; His commitment goes with us through the storm, even when it comes of our own making. He is; therefore I am……

Friday, August 5, 2011


Thursday, for me, was four hours “off-the-clock” time volunteered toward reassembling our Special-Ed unit back into something close to its same appearance held before summer break. Even though the economy has this state’s educational budget quite restricted in its expenses, the carpet in our room, needing to have been exterminated long ago, was finally tossed and replaced with tile flooring while we were off. Now the “fun”. All furniture, shelving, desks, tables removed in June, had to be restored to their former positions. Box after box of books, worksheets, art supplies and sensory materials needed to be unpacked and returned to their assigned locations. This job certainly has its benefits. Under the shiny veneer, however, the days pass like any other place of employment. People remain people. Business is business. Life is a lesson learned as you go… After an afternoon mostly involving boredom, I opted once again to observe all the enthusiasm being generated at this year’s version of VBS out at the church. Calamity Kate robbed the bank Wednesday evening and was now supposed to repent of the matter, having since been introduced to Christ. Friday’s climax is unknown to me, but what is quite apparent is the large number of teenagers and adults required to put it all together. Scenery, costumes, actors, teachers, crafts, refreshments – and the list doesn’t end there. Members give their time, their money, and their heart into making this work. In truth, I sometimes ponder why. Do any of these children really experience conversions? Do they grasp the Gospel in any depths as to its message unto us or do they walk away with no more than “seed sown”, potential buried in their mind to meet them at some future point of wondering if there is, indeed, any sense to it all? Habit, routine, questions, one foot after the other, the pace the same, but the reality being: history, somewhere in the journey, begins to outweigh whatever’s ahead. Yet, in the middle of it all, it seems to me, He is; and, without that anchor-line, even our “goodness” can taste flat……

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Some serious thunderstorms blew through our area early this morning, catching me in the middle of an errand for my wife, one requiring me, twice, to abandon my car for a few moments and simply endure the downpour. Back home again, I found the microwave, electric stove, and my computer all in need of a little readjusting due having suffered a temporary power loss; and it would be mid-afternoon before the grey, overcast skies parted to permit the sun any reign over the neighborhood. Lucky me: Puttering around with some of my plants just outside the front door, then, staking a few back into an upright position after the torrential rains had beaten them to the ground, I brought my hand near the opening of a gutter downspout and, with no warning, was suddenly attacked by wasps inhabiting such unthinkable domain. One hit my palm, his sting immediate and strong, but I did manage to outrun the others, escaping back into the house… Last night, during mid-week service, another “bolt from the blue” caught me by surprise. When you’re dealing with words, it’s quite easy for those receiving the message to hear it “in their own tongue”, to interpret it as they perceive it to be. In pointing us to Matthew and his having been called by Christ in spite of his vile status as a tax collector, the assistant pastor had me on the edge of my seat for most of his sermon. He went far beyond the truth of the Gospel being an offer unto whomsoever. He brought it forth in terms of the only difference between the alcoholic, the homosexual, the druggie, the prostitute, the guy-in-the-street and the believer being a “re-established connection” with the Creator, the addition not making US any more righteous, any holier, but the addition, itself, being a Reality who embodied such traits, a Grace whose manifestation through us would witness for itself. For a few minutes Wednesday evening, the clouds rolled away and God’s light shined in the darkness, or at least truth as I’ve long seen it to be……

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


My granddaughter is staying with us for a few days, enjoying Mamaw and Papaw’s company before school reduces it to an occasional weekend. Beth was occupied this morning, however, chauffeuring a handicapped sister-in-law to a doctor’s appointment and leaving the two of us, McKenna and me, to enjoy a trip to the cinema. Choices were few. We had agreed on Winnie the Pooh, then her little friend at VBS last night who wanted to go with us talked her into the other one about the Smurfs. Suddenly not only was it not a “date”, we had company along for the journey and, instead of Tigger, Piglet, and Roo, we were watching some story about little blue creatures living in a male-dominated society that shows some nearby evil wizard he isn’t the only one with an ability to cast spells. This old man, though, has always been known to be acquiescent to his woman’s heart. It wasn’t “Braveheart”, not even anything close to cowboys or science-fiction. Then, again… Plopping down with the girls into some seats three tiers back in the upper level, armed with a tub of popcorn and enough soda for us to wash it down, I was hooked from the very beginning. Chased by the bad guy and his goofy cat, the heroes in this tale are sucked through a dimensional time-tunnel of sorts only to find themselves stranded in downtown New York, but still pursued by their enemy. The experience shared with a young, married couple living there as they work out the details for their return home had me amused and well-entertained for over an hour. If some believers find it dangerous, sacrilegious even, to “take a walk on the dark side”, eschewing Harry Potter and the likes, I’m of the opinion: to each their own. The girls and I emerged unscathed, still “in Christ”, free of demonic influence and having no inner desire to study the occult. Faith wins again; but I do admit to a temptation to go back and check out what’s going on with the gang at Pooh Corner……

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Last night was the first of a week-long series of productions that the church world refers to as “Vacation Bible School”. Forty years ago that little old-time holiness bunch, an average crowd gathering for most any service numbering maybe seventy-five people, finances allowing little outreach, little anything other than needs for maintaining that small building that housed them, one summer started such a program, the present pastor but a teenager back then with a dream in his heart. Today it’s a huge event, this particular one an old west cowboy spectacular with the gymnasium restructured into a prospector’s mine, a sheriff’s office, hay, chuck-wagon, cactus, decorations everywhere, workers all garbed in bonnets and straw Stetsons. Crafts, food, fun, Bible lessons, and two bicycles awarded to whomsoever, at the end, has gained the most gold coins along the way…
Seed sown, I suppose, but one has to wonder how much chance it has to survive, to sprout and bring forth fruit in such soil as it has fallen… I sat in a six-hour class yesterday designed to teach me, along with different self-defense techniques and various manners of applicable restraints, the psychology of dealing with today’s children, a generation traversing a Hollywood, television, computer game driven amoral society, and I silently gave thanks for my own grandchildren being tutored in the church school. Not that such environment provides me with any guarantee of their “sanctification”. Forty years of Christianity has taught me well that humanity remains humanity, even armed with chapter and verse, even baptized, born-again, “dunked in the Holy Ghost”. The best odds we have is a lot of love, earnest prayer, and hearts surrendered unto Him……

Monday, August 1, 2011


My return to the old assembly after a ten-year attendance elsewhere was accomplished out of a desire to be with my daughters and grandchildren, especially since we learned of the oldest girl’s recent diagnosis of cancer, a threat hopefully caught early enough to be conquered with medication. The transition finds me yet contented to simply “fill a pew”, with no wish at all to involve myself in any of their outreaches, and detached from most of the congregation, this past decade giving birth to, not only to a sea of faces unfamiliar to me, but also an agenda, a format that is nothing like the “family” I stepped into so long ago. Nonetheless, in spite of all that, if this old man is patient, somewhere during most any service, the Spirit finds me, fills me with His presence, and ministers to the needs in my life. Sunday’s sermons this week were on “Our Journey Through Time” and “I Drew Them”, the latter dealing with what the pastor called “God’s scarlet cord of redemption, what I have long referred to as His “anchor-line”. Evening worship began with two songs possessing great lyrics, but put forth at a tempo so fast it was hard to fall into the flow, a chariot race rather than a connection at the oasis. When the speed was adjusted, however, suddenly the sanctuary was one, a moment when you knew He was now in our midst and the reins were in His hands, not ours. People began to pray for each other, testified of past deliverance, of healings known. Tears gathered in my eyes, a release of tongues poured up out of my belly, and communication with my Maker was a reality, not just a religious faith. If much within the sanctuary has changed along the way, if doctrinally we have drifted, to some degree, in two different directions, yet there is unity between us in Him……