Thursday, September 29, 2011


There’s an old joke once told me as to why the four armed services, because of “linguistic differences”, could never succeed in any sort of joint operation. It concerns each being told to “secure” a building. The Army, if so ordered, would only turn off the lights, shut the doors, and go home. The Navy would lock all the doors and not permit anyone else to enter. The Marines would assault the place with mortars, grenades and machine guns. The Air Force would take out a three-year lease with option to buy… A recent re-connection with an old friend stationed with me at Imperial Beach, California, has me “pushing my brain”, trying my best to recall more than just a few blurry mental snapshots of people and events in my life over fifty years ago. I was nineteen, fresh out of boot-camp, and going through what e referred to as “ditty school”, Navy jargon meaning lessons concerned our learning Morse Code. The base was located about twenty miles from San Diego if one skirted the perimeter of the bay, but the Coronado ferry provided a much quicker way for young sailors to reach the inner city. We were next to the last class before the base would close its doors and cease to be, the facility, therefore, much like a small collection of older buildings scattered here and there on a mile-long strip of land positioned a few hundred yards off the Pacific beach. As I recall, there was a movie theater, a mess hall, and something akin to a television rec-room for the enlisted men. Mostly what I remember about the latter is some pinball machines in the rear. The rest is blank other than a juke box possessing the tune “Cherry, Cherry Pie”. My memories of that mess hall involve a few weeks of KP served, my only assigned duty being the creation of “Mona Lisa” cottage cheese platters. We had lockers off base for those trips into town and the occasional forays into Tijuana, the first offering me Road Runner cartoons and the renown zoo, the second, well, let’s just say I discovered it unwise to mix beer and hard liquor in Mexico. Maybe my most vivid recollection, though, is standing late-night watch duty, walking the halls of what was known as “the Cage” because of the fence surrounding that particular facility. Whether there was any real reason for such security, I know not, and to now sketch any sort of floor plan of the place would be impossible; but the strange noises emanating from within at three or four in the morning, the habit of the water cooler’s motor to suddenly erupt and groan as one passed by at such time, has stayed with me through the years. Indeed, for whatever reason, a vague image of its appearance from outside has always come to mind when telling the above joke……

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My spare time the last couple of days has been reduced to mostly a last few minutes in my recliner just before turning off the light and going to sleep. I have always thought it was “Spring” cleaning, not some spur of the moment looking- at- Halloween- right- around- the- corner mood that these women get into, when suddenly the house seems dull, drab, and “Wouldn’t this room be much brighter if…? Yep; Beth has decided to paint. For me, that involves moving furniture, stripping walls of pictures and shelves, plus transferring my entire book collection else where. Not that I mind. Manual labor in the form of physical sweat is not all that bad. Having to bend, climb, and fiddle with a wet, dripping roller, an uncooperative brush, is another story. Luckily, she has a younger friend of hers who has accepted the challenge… The other invasion into my “relax-and-do-nothing” space, lately, was accomplished by my granddaughter who is but one more woman with “carte blanche” to do so. Her requests, however, usually tend to challenge me mentally, helping her with math homework or working out some written assignment for English, this latest being a Science project. She looks to me for direction; I learn a few things from her in computer technology; and we both come out of it on the other end a little smarter. This evening we just finished about four hours of “search and capture” (stretched over three days), leaving her with only the task of making a title page for her “Domain Scrapbook”, a short study of life-forms, and I think I hear the theme song for Jeopardy…

Monday, September 26, 2011


Our visit to the Youth Detention Center Sunday morning was structured a bit differently, three of my usual team unable to be there this time, my buddy and his wife who always hold the next slot on the schedule welcoming my invitation to strengthen our number. With none of us feeling any inner urge to open up the service, my son-in-law nonetheless agreed to assume that position, filling such space with the melodic flow of his saxophone, but simply yielding the floor to others afterwards. The door had been opened, however; and the message, as brought forth from that point, fell on ears willing to hear. From beginning to end, though shared by three individuals, remained focused on Christ not just being the initiator of one’s faith, but an abiding hope, as well, to whom we can return again and again. There were no girls in the room on this occasion. About twenty-five teenage boys sat before us, less than a fifth confessing to any sort of church fellowship, all present professing a belief in God, and only two who were willing to raise a hand in response to my asking if any there had ever touched Him in some way as to convince them of His reality. We were there a little less than an hour and final prayer just “felt” good. Indeed, some of them expressed pleasure when I mentioned that we would be back again next weekend. For me, this is as good as “church” gets……

Sunday, September 25, 2011


In talking to the men at the mission Wednesday evening, I took them to the unknown author of Hebrew’s definition of “faith” and then suggested to them the following words: Faith may well be “the substance of things hoped for, the essence of things unseen”, but it begins with seeing life for what it is, seeing ourselves for what we are, and hoping that there is, indeed, a Reality to meet us in the middle of it all; for, when you boil it all down, it’s not so much about faith as it is about focus!.... I believe that. A friend of mine, at the memorial service Thursday, spoke me once again as being radical. He has long teased me in such manner; but, in truth, the label is accepted with no malice given in return. When it comes to the salvation of my soul, I openly admit to being reluctant about simply “following the herd”, finding enough evidence around to convince me that it goes a little deeper than just opting one’s personal preference of denominational packaging. The church, after all, didn’t save me. Christ did…. Does it matter what one believes? The apostle Paul seems to think so in his letters to Timothy. Yet which of us is it still pure in our version of the Gospel? I maintain there’s no need for “war”, especially since the only “perfection” any of us can possess in this is a resurrected Savior willing to go with us in our journey; but doesn’t that point to a judgment one day centered on our heart and its pursuit of Him rather than our humanity and its head-held theology?.... My friend, who is a preacher, talked of how politics, business meetings and “the-old-man-yet-alive-in-all-of-us” sometimes exasperates him until he hears God laughingly instruct him to “Calm down. They are, after all, just people.” To which we both agreed in our being but one more banana in the bunch. I’m not out to forcibly clone anyone to my way of thinking, just describing the miles covered thus far from my perspective and inviting whomsoever to join me in the stumble……

Friday, September 23, 2011


Beth and I sat for a little over an hour last night in the sanctuary of the church we just left about six months ago. It was a small gathering of family and friends attending a memorial service for a woman two years my junior, a lady who, after battling five different types of cancer over the course of nearly two decades, finally slipped away, her race run. The disease had stripped her of outwardly, having ravaged her physically in several ways. Inside, however, she remained the same. It could not take her smile. It could not destroy her anchor in Christ. Her husband, true to his marriage vows, had stood devoted to her every step of the way, but was suddenly handed a terminal diagnosis himself and preceded her in death just last November. She, like him, opted for cremation; and last night we celebrated their life together, a love that survived beyond the ills that came their way. We sang hymns; we shared memories; and, at one point, a young man, her nephew, accompanied himself on the guitar, giving us a tune he once played for her back when he was just a boy first learning to strum the strings. “If You Get There Before I do” is an old song expressing how sometimes the bonding of two hearts is unable to be severed no matter what. The lyrics left not one dry eyes in the place… The tradition of layouts and funerals just never made much sense to me. To each their own, to be sure, but better, I think, this sort of “goodbye”, this witness of their legacy left behind; and this, my choice, when such time comes to me……

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Our visit to the rescue mission last night was not one where an overflowing of His presence at any time filled the room. What we did find was fellowship and a unity forged through that which we shared. Upon our entry, one old fellow approached us, wondering if perhaps we might want someone to play the piano. In ten years I’ve never known such an instrument was even there in the building! My son-in-law was receptive to the offer, however, and when his moment arrived, in spite of heartache he presently carries, his sax and those ivories melted into worship. The men were touched. It was Tony, though, who had opened up the evening and had already set the focus for the evening, telling how one of the ladies in our church had approached him Sunday morning with an urgent request for him to teach a class of ten-year olds with only five minutes to prepare. He did; and, in stumbling through the lesson, at one point he had asked the kids if they had ever had an “experience” wherein God became more to them than just a Biblical story, wherein they knew Him in His reality. It surprised him when several raised their hands; but it blew him away when one boy, pressed further to explain how it had felt, gave the following description. “Well”, he said, tilting his head and looking as if he was once again mentally savoring the event, ”It was like breathing for the first time!”… Not the exact words I’ve used, myself, at times, to give image to my own initial encounter, but I am definitely saving it for future witness……

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Another drizzly, rainy day in Mudville; but inside the school cafeteria there is life. All the tables are filled with a multitude of children, the volume of their chatter mixed with the garble of all the cooks, monitors, and custodians going about their business serving breakfast as usual. I stop here almost every morning, refill my coffee cup, and relax for a few moments before going to class, catching any left-over items for my personal “Feed the Nurse” program. Tonight we return again to the rescue mission and I’m hoping my sinuses will desist from the dull ache they’re giving my brain right now. My “eggs are in the basket” and, unless the Spirit takes me elsewhere, what I intend on sharing needs no more reviewing. From this point, it’s all a matter of focusing on Him, relaxing in what He brings forth rather than trying to manipulate it with my thinking. The menu is prepared. I’m willing to let Him serve it as He wishes…….

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


My maternal grandfather and his wife came east from Illinois to northern Kentucky back during the Great Depression. In my mind is a story told of the two, at some point along the way, either working in or owning a store whose main profits came from a small boot-legging operation that was maintained out back. I have mental snapshots of him clerking in local pony-kegs during my early childhood years, but evidently such career choices didn’t bring them any financial security along the way. They lived in a one bedroom apartment two blocks off downtown Main Street, in an area that, in those days, adjoined itself to the “colored section”, affording me on our visits my only interaction with that segment of society. “Grampa”, as I knew him, became a ticket-taker at the local inner city cinema theaters in his later life, dying in his mid eighties… On my fraternal side, “Papaw” moved from the central bluegrass to just south of the Ohio River, seeking a job in Cincinnati. He was a welder and my dad, his oldest son, would follow him into such profession, the two of them foremen at different plants for the same company. I knew this granddad in all his “peculiarities, his love for liver and onions, his passion for baseball, TV wrestling, and westerns. He was a fisherman, chewed a cigar, and into camping; but lost most of his passion for life when my dad passed, an accidental blow to the head at work taking him suddenly from us. Papaw took his pension, withdrew to a back room in his home, but did odd jobs for others here and there. At sixty-nine, he descended from some woman’s roof after fixing her gutter, knocked at the door to announce his having finished, and fell dead at her feet from a heart attack… As for me, with my seventieth birthday just three weeks away, I’m actually pondering three more grade levels with my present charge should the school system grant me the privilege of continuing this gig. It’s not a position most men would seek, working in what, anymore, is a “woman’s world”, attending to the needs of these kids in whatsoever way the situation demands; and how that “stacks up” in any kind of heritage handed down, I know not. My life has surely been a far cry from any career that my father hoped I might pursue. Nonetheless, God has been good and I am thankful for the road thus far……

Monday, September 19, 2011


Sunday morning Beth and I shifted sides in church, moving to the right rear pews and allowing her to focus most of her attention on her favorite nephew’s three year-old boys. Whether it was such re-positioning, all of the interaction with the kids, or just an old man’s inability to find the flow, what held my mind through most of worship was the “state” of the worship in general. In looking around me, however, most of the congregation, even though standing to participate in such songs as came forth, appeared to be doing little in the way of what they arose to do. There were a few, of course, who attempted the lyrics supplied on the computer screens up front; and one or two, here and there, who actually had their hands raised, priming the pump and hoping for a connection with that inner well. Nine o’clock, early “old fogie” service? Could be. When the tempo slowed down and the musicians stepped into “How Great Thou Art”, we, at least for a moment, become one with Him… The pastor, referring to that Psalm where David speaks of a hunger to see God’s power and glory as he has seen it in the sanctuary, went on to preach of it being time to “irrigate the desert”, to “water the world” with the anointing of Christ; but, while the thrust of his message was delivered with good intent, I found myself in disagreement with his pointing to us as “a people who know how to pray” and therein seemingly marking us apart from others. It’s true that there are those within our ranks who have bought into this Laodicean theology wherein the Holy Ghost is something we possess rather than the other way around. In 2nd Chronicles, however, it is written that, in seeking His face, we are to “humble ourselves” if we to ensure our being heard. Indeed, “less of me” will produce “more of Him” in almost any manner we may wish to span the gap, in travail, in worship, in witness wherever we go. It’s the key to “success” whether gathered in His name or individually talking to the guy next door about his soul……

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Friday morning, for whatever reason, I started thinking about this nation’s historical roots, me being in no way any sort of authority on the subject, mostly just asking myself “what if” in the sense of where we would be had certain events gone otherwise along the way. I mean like: What if those early patriots had lost the war in their fight for freedom? What if they had remained independent colonies afterwards rather than have merged into a collective group of united states? What if the Confederate Army had succeeded in its attempt to form a separate congressional body? Granted: such pondering has little value in so far as solving our present problems; but looking back helps open our eyes to the truth that we are a society created out of an evolutional process wherein key “forks in the road” determined our identity. For me, as a believer, the question becomes: Was it all orchestrated by God? Has He predestined our course, the whole scenario merely a story He once penned and then sat back, with His arms folded, to watch it comes to life before Him? The atheist, of course, has no “Hand on the helm” to consider and seems content to think it all un-definable, an accident likely to be no more than an illusionary existence; but I, having had faith produced in me based on evidence encountered, dare to poke my finger into the abyss and ponder. What I conclude, or at least thus far, is that, while God already knows the end of the story, our possessing free-will has Him still involved with editing the chapters as we go; and that probably applies to the bigger picture every bit as much as it does to each and every one of us. With that settled for the moment, however, and seeing as how it’s now nearly three a.m. Saturday morning, maybe I can turn the light off and get some sleep……

Thursday, September 15, 2011


My sister-in-law recently enthusiastically recommended I read “Heaven Can Wait”, the story of a preacher’s son, a pre-schooler, who claims he spent three minutes with Jesus during a hospital stay wherein it looked like he might die from a ruptured appendix. Did he actually temporarily experience death? The book, written by his father, is a continual account of the boy surprising his parents afterwards with descriptions of what took place, a piece here, a piece there, each one “Biblically solid”, in agreement with that which the Scripture suggests to us. Having it revealed through the innocent eyes of a child is somehow supposed to all the more confirm the truth unto us. This old man, however, thus far, tends to take it all “with a grain of salt”; and I say that not wishing to offend anyone, not meaning to imply an unbelief on my part concerning a man’s final destination being eternal life either with the Creator or separated from Him in a place of torture. What I have a hard time with is all that can be found for sale on the store shelves representing, supposedly, Christian theology, all the tales told from the pulpit in the last thirty-nine years, said to be true and simply swallowed hook, line, and sinker because a preacher shared it. Salvation is not, in its entirety, something that any of us will ever be able to explain in so far as breaking it down into its components with perfect definition. In the end, it will yet be He who verifies our individual denominational interpretations of the matter. What I maintain is that, even NOW, one can at least know a day-by-day connection with His anchor-line, a constant check on our status, a rod and staff “correctional GPS”, and faith renewed as we go. Nothing wrong, of course, with a “witness” from whomsoever. Without His affirmation, though, it’s received by me and stored for further consideration……

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"GPS Navigation........................"

My drive into school each day takes maybe twenty minutes, there being two possible routes, but both involving the rear end of rush hour traffic trying to gain entrance to the expressway. It’s a good time, though, for talking things over with God; and, by that, I mean a steady sort of “in and out” flow concerning whatever is on my mind. It’s not like what takes place is always a matter of “prayer”, at least in the sense of my bringing forth any serious petition. There are those moments when burdens do come up out of that inner well; but mostly, on these occasions, I’m simply in a “mental pondering”, asking Him about some point in my personal theology. Trouble is: much too often I catch myself having drifted from all consciousness of His being there; and then, when I finally realize my rudeness and turn back to where He sits patiently waiting, I wonder if, in truth, He isn’t chuckling inside at the old man’s habit to just wander off in the middle of it all. Revival, for me, isn’t about four days of special guest speakers, the church packed with a crowd come to see and hear the celebrities. It is an everyday “boot in the butt” self-examination wherein one is made aware of his humanity, even in Christ, being still alive and kicking. You bury it in grace, take the next step, and walk by the tug on the anchor-line……

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Turn, Turn, Turn................"

Time marches on (or so they say); but, in reality, it knows only such measurement as men assign it, dividing it into as minute a space as a nanosecond, or lumping together several decades and calling it an era. We mark it off in spans denoting the length of someone’s life. We put it into a recipe as a directive for how many ticks it takes to bake a cake. Regardless, whosoever walks therein from one point to another, and whatsoever is formed within its flow will know change in one way or another. Creation fundamentals that hold the universe together may remain the same; mathematic principles, no doubt, are set in concrete as well; and humanity, trapped in its Adamic nature, is a “given” from the cradle to the grave. The Bible may well refer to believers having become “new creatures” via a born-again experience; but, while an inner Holy Ghost reconnection does extend unto us resources previously not part of our spiritual make-up, it doesn’t alter our identity in so far as turning us into pillars of perfection. People, even people “in” Christ, are yet people. Demanding a rearrangement of our routine, a restructuring of the pattern to which we’ve become accustomed unnerves us; but, for me, it is a question of whether or not God is in the matter. Is it He asking me to realign my thinking, or is it no more than the world trying to have me “follow the herd”? Hard-headed old man or a heart hungry to know Him in the next step? Sometimes I wonder……

Sunday, September 11, 2011


My weekend, probably like most everyone else’s, has been filled with television presentations of either the events of 9/11 as it happened or memorial inaugurations just now taking place a decade down the road. Mixed in there somewhere, I also read the thoughts of an acquaintance (a preacher who recently succumbed to cancer) concerning changes such terrorist acts would/should bring to America and found myself not surprised when some comments suggested his lack of Christianity in so expressing his views. After a journey of nearly four decades in this, what has become quite clear to me is the truth that one’s claim of being “in” the faith in no way unifies us, as a body, in what we believe. If such tragedy as “hit us in our belly” ten years ago humbled us and took us to our knees in prayer, it yet remains to be said that, when we arose, we were one only in our loss… My pastor, this morning in sermon, reflected on how, on the evening of that fateful day ten years ago, every church in our area opened its doors and people gathered with no specific call to do so other than the oppressive weight of their sorrow, their hearts and voices joined in a weeping unto God. He compared it unto the travail of a woman in labor, but “fell short”, I felt, in suggesting that it was not a cry coming out of anguish or hopelessness, rather one flowing out of expectation. Not that I disagreed entirely with the picture as he painted it. Merely that I found his position failing to note the matter all depends upon on whether or not a man’s soul is anchored in the reality of His presence abiding in the depths of all that he is. Despair can hit bottom and bounce back void in its attempt to salvage some sense to things, or it can meet Him there within and step into the fullness of His grace, His faith, His promise. America needs to know that truth. Indeed, the Church needs to recover that truth, learning the necessity of surrendering our soul into His hands……

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I work in an Elementary Special-Education Autism unit. This year there are presently seven children in our room, a number that may change at any time during the nine months of this particular session. It is a job wherein I am continually restoring shoes to little feet that prefer a sensory connection with the floor and double-knotting shoelaces does little to restrict their desire to “take a walk on the wild side”. My days know many trips to the bathroom in the nurse’s station positioned just next door, two of the boys yet untrained in “toiletry etiquette”, the others needing merely a presence there to ensure “business is maintained”. In between lessons and activities, I consistently “shuffle the deck” in so far as their taking turns with an Ipad provided by one of their parents and two computers, only one of which is connected to the Internet. Silence within our spaces is seldom experienced for any length of time. Indeed, the other day while escorting the crew out to the playground, in travelling through hallways designated as “no noise zero level” areas, I commented on our surely causing some to wonder who's passing through, since at least three or four of our kids are almost always emitting some sort of audible laughter or displeasure, nothing, however, that might be taken for linguistics… These are individuals with identities of their own and, more importantly for us to remember, possessing a soul and a spirit just like any of us. While their communication skills may function better with the use of imagery, that doesn’t make it impossible them to achieve goals, to grow as they go. God’s heart knows His creation “from the inside out”; and what I want is to know His heart through His eyes, that this never becomes just a paycheck, but remains a privilege given, a door opened unto an old man…….

Friday, September 9, 2011


Yesterday morning I sat in a 2nd grade classroom with my charge for about twenty minutes of his music lesson, the kids sitting on the floor around the teacher as we entered, he and I utilizing a couple of chairs on their outer perimeter. They were playing some sort of “guess what’s in the paper bag” game in the beginning, but quickly evolved into being paired with one another, their mission being to create some artistic manner in which different cultures might greet one another. “Jambo, jambo, sano jambo”, African for “Hello, hello, hello to everybody” was played over and over for them as they devised simple choreography other than a handshake; then everyone returned to the floor and two little girls, from a multitude of hands volunteering to be first, were chosen for the honor. Enthusiasm, for one of them, quickly evolved into terror. She stood there frozen for a few moments, unable to remember what to do, tears forming in her eyes, trapped in an awkward situation and welcoming the teacher’s invitation to try again later... I don’t recall any similar events in my own childhood years, nothing specific, anyway; but that’s not to say it never happened. It’s probably safe to say that most, if not all of us, were scarred in one way or another along the way. Embarrassed. Made to feel inferior. Insignificant in so much as what really happened, perhaps; but nonetheless a part of who we are today. Remember, though: only “a part”. To understand each of us would require a walk in each individual’s shoes, experiencing their history through their “eyes”, through their reception of and their reaction to each moment. We are, indeed, “singular” in our creation and in need of His connection with us as we go. He, alone, meets us and completes us in the journey……

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Wednesday evening’s Bible study population appears to be growing. That doesn’t surprise me, though, for a number of reasons. In the first place, the instructor isn’t one of those who see such a position as a pulpit built for him to reproduce himself. He leads and he listens, allowing others to bring their views into the lesson. We talk about “life”, about the Word as we have found it to be true, not just chapter and verse as explored through some theological microscope. Scripture is utilized as “undergirding” for our perspectives, but not maintained as being perfect in so far as our understanding of it. We are not trying to convince anyone of our possessing truth. We’re just honestly sharing our journey thus far… There is no class next week because of one of those three or four day “celebrity” revivals (that are much too often more about having “church” than they are about any examination of self) being scheduled instead; and our monthly visit to the rescue mission eliminates my being able to attend the week after. It’s good, though, to have gained another “plum in my pudding”, something in the way of fellowship with believers, healthy discussion that feeds my soul. I have not abandoned the sanctuary. People are people; and I are one of them. He, not me, will judge it all in the end……

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Climate Changes......................."

Labor Day weekend, here in northern Kentucky, began with temperatures in the upper nineties, oppressive heat that kept most people indoors. Monday morning it was as if someone had thrown a switch, gray overcast clouds covering the skies, threatening rain but never producing any, wind never more than a chilly breeze down one’s neck, constantly removing the tin foil covering those various dishes of food brought to our gathering on my friend’s back porch. Normally we would all have been playing corn-hole, tossing horseshoes, and scattered across the back yard seeking shade from the sun. With a sudden thirty degree drop of the thermometer sending some into the house, the rest of us sat huddling in hoodies and sweatshirts, me doing my best to find warmth in a hot cup of coffee. Jokingly I pondered if Earth’s orbit hadn’t somehow been altered, no more eccentric, but rectangular in shape, our planet merely having turned a corner out there, seasons no longer revolving door, but the flip of a page, next chapter in progress…. If Sunday morning’s sermon had me on the edge of my seat, the pastor connecting with me in the journey as I have found it to be in Christ, preaching on a faith that abides within, one not needing to be manufactured on the spur of the moment in the middle of a storm, the message he delivered that evening left me disappointed. It was centered on Daniel’s interpretation of “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin” given unto Belteshazzar and spoke of a “transformation of health and wealth” coming to those who could read “the writing on the wall”. I would leave a little over half-way through it. Amazing to me how, out of the same Book, we all build our individual theologies, shaping its content into our own version of truth. Amusing to me how, within the same sanctuary, the environment weathers over a period of time and sometimes, even on the same day, out of the same vessel what blows through can drastically differ in what it brings to this old man……

Monday, September 5, 2011


Saturday morning, while waiting on Beth at her hairdresser’s, I glanced through an old issue of Reader’s Digest and came upon a list of “lessons” that people claim to have “learned from their kids”. One in particular – “To take time to play with rocks along the way” – really bore witness with me. What does it mean? From my perspective, it speaks of one not needing a room full of expensive toys to have fun, of not requiring a trip to Disneyland to discover a magic kingdom. Whether or not such wisdom was gained from raising my three daughters, however, is probably debatable. At one point in our life, we all were young, the world a mysterious excitement meant to be explored. Somewhere along the way, most of us just seem to lose the “freshness” of every new day, commitment, responsibilities, and the reality of “the dark side” draining us of all our exuberance, leading us to settle, instead, for vacations, “hobbies”, whatever piece of the pie we think might feed our hunger at the time…. Sunday morning’s sermon hit me right in the depths of all I believe, the pastor taking us to that small boat about to sink in the storm-tossed waters of the Sea of Galilee. Christ’s rebuke of “O ye of little faith”, he said, did not refer to the disciples not possessing knowledge of the Master’s ability to handle the situation, but of their waiting until the last minute before seeking His presence in the matter! Experienced sailors sat there among them, men fully aware of what the ominous clouds, increasing wind, and choppy waves foretold; but all, rather than seeking His advice, chose to trust their own skills, face their own fears. Does not He promise to go with us, from the moment of our conversion, to abide in the very center of our existence, to rise and meet us out of our “belly”? Do not we know His assurance as a tangible connection therein with His peace, His grace, His hand in the journey? Such anchor-line allows time to “play with the rocks along the way”, to “smell the roses” as we walk with Him through the garden……

Friday, September 2, 2011


Afternoon recess, today, was another heat-soaked experience, a few trees providing some shade, but not much of a breeze helping to cool things off. The kids were making good use of the swing set and a few were even peddling their tricycles around in the enclosed area; but just as many or more did their best to avoid the sun, finding shelter beneath the slide, inside a small open-air structure which allows them to sit as a table with a roof over their head. In truth, we weren’t out there long. While we were there, however, I asked my co-worker about the phone-call she had received yesterday and learned that, not only was it her pastor’s home that had burned down, but also this had been the third house for him to see destroyed there in such manner. If that bit of revelation gave me reason to pause, though, it didn’t come close to shaking me as much as the counsel she supposedly offered him. In her usual way of just “telling it the way she sees it”, my friend told the preacher that “Maybe God is trying to warn you to not plant your feet here!”… I do have faith in the lady. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t meaning to imply that the Creator would stoop to arson just to get a message across; but, in truth, I am of the opinion that she might have better impressed him had she suggested his ministry was so anointed that perhaps the devil was trying to get him to leave. Regardless, my own theology believes things just “happen”. As far as who they happen “to” is also pretty much a matter of serendipity. Someone wise once said that “The rain falls upon both the just and the unjust; but mostly on the just, because the unjust has probably stolen the just’s umbrella”; but, even if there’s anything to their logic, what’s important is simply having Him as our promise in the middle of whatever comes our way. Heat, fire, or no more than people with good intentions: He is our best source of refuge……


One huge dark cloud was positioned over my drive to school this morning, the sunlight clearly defining its perimeters, the sky elsewhere serving notice that any serious threat of rain was not really in the picture. The ominous mass above me, however, was appropriate for my mood, my thoughts on the loss of a friend Wednesday afternoon, an acquaintance from church, actually, but a nice guy, sixty-two years of age and suddenly no more. It was a freak accident, he, high in the air working in a cherry-picker, trying to remove a limb from a tall tree. Things happen… The day would, indeed, evolve into the nineties, the playground at school oppressive, kids somewhat lethargic in their amusement, adults seeking a bench in the shade and hoping for a cool breeze; but my mind kept returning to the reality of life. A co-worker’s phone, while we were involved with those few moments of recess, brought her news of a neighbor’s house having burned to the ground. All were just outside, about to leave, when the husband noticed smoke. Things change; and it doesn’t always take a lot of time for one’s world to disappear… What we’re offered is an anchor-line, a source of strength, an oasis of His presence to meet us in all needs. In that I trust. In that I find peace……….