Friday, December 30, 2011


Ravi Zacharias, in “Can Man Live Without God”, after asserting that the Church deserves much of the criticism it has had to face, goes on to also state that much of what is offered on religious television programming nowadays leaves not only the skeptics bemused, but many Christians embarrassed as well. Such accusations are made in a chapter devoted to “truth”, beginning with the idea that a man’s childhood years are bathed in wonder as he dabbles in the world of fantasy, an education that gradually erodes in the face of reality, a day by day lesson given him merely by breathing and another word for what he holds to be “so”. If we are but willing to admit that none of us possess knowledge in its entirety, though, we are left, for the length of our existence, with a never-ending search for the answer to that interrogative Pilate put to Christ long ago. It matters not how often we gather together within the hollowed sanctuary of whatever temple we’ve built, at peace with each other in the unity of what we claim to believe and denominationally divided from that bunch down the road in our dogma. Truth remains much more than that which we have determined for ourselves from the Book and the bottom line of our salvation is whether or not we can, in some way, “reach through the veil and touch the hem of His garment”! One can speak of “faith”, but if it is not invested into something greater than a doctrine we have agreed upon, all we really own is a creed. Before we preach to our youth, then, the value of praise, the necessity of prayer and fasting, they need to know the object of such practice is an attainable commodity. It’s like a mother telling her children to eat their vegetables when they have no real concept of what being “healthy” means. If God is but “someone out there” and not “a divinity who lives within me”, if actual contact is not possible, need we look any farther for why the numbers show our ranks steadily decreasing?......

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Ahooooy There!........................."

”For in Him we live, and move, and have our being”…..Acts 17:28

Beth celebrates her sixty-ninth today. My sister hits the same mile-marker on the seventh and the two of them have played telephone tag with the event ever since crossing into their forties. I long ago began dismissing my own annual calendar crisis much like I do with the ticking of the clock at midnight December thirty-first. Time, for me, is a river in which we all boat. It has no beginning, no end, and I’m convinced that neither do we in Him. We change; the world around us evolves; but that which is real is eternal and we can know it even now, if no more than temporarily and in part, through some deep inner connection with Christ. What if God, Himself, though, is indeed that stream which we inhabit, just as the apostle Paul suggests in the above statement? Indeed, just before he so framed our existence to those great thinkers of the Hill of Mars in Athens, surrounded by a number of graven images somehow supposed to establish an appeasement unto any and all divinity such as there might be, Paul also gave declaration wherein, in referencing humanity’s need to “feel after and find” its Maker, he made it very clear that whom we seek is “not far from every one of us”. Is it merely that we are dumb sheep? Why do we, so easily in our journey, lose Him in the distraction of life as it comes unto us? Do we think that because our lungs operate in a natural process requiring no conscious concern on our part, our soul likewise survives without any means of resuscitation? Why do we, like the Hebrews of old, lift up the serpent and worship it rather than bow down before that inner point of contact wherein we might be revived, restored, and made new on a daily basis. Never mind that our outward vessel more and more gives evidence of our mortality. The fellow on the inside has it all but figured out……

Saturday, December 24, 2011


It’s not even been a complete week yet since we broke for Christmas break and already I have found myself having to pause and determine what day it is more than once. Take away the act of routine, the scheduling of our life in some form or fashion, and it all begins to be regulated by nothing more than the earth’s rotation around the sun. You get up, go through the motions, crawl into bed, and arise in the morning to do it all over again. When Jesus stated the Sabbath to have been made for man, I wonder if He meant that in terms of worship, rest, or just giving us a basic means of marking our existence. My book collection has just about everything that Frederick Buechner ever published in the way of sermons; so, having extinguished that source of manna, I recently devoured his fictional tale of a twelfth-century “holy” man, a biography of his life wherein one is fed the details (as the blurb on the back puts it) “in domestic reality”. What one sees is Godric’s humanity, his sin, his conversion, his stumble through the darkness from beginning to end. His mother, in one place, puts breathing in terms of her having had no space for anything other than labor and therefore being willing to let truth be her final judge. “Let the monks, nuns, and priests,” she says, “have care of faith!” Her son, however, puzzles himself with it all, wondering if he is daft and time no more than a “sea where hours float”, a place where we’ve all been simply swimming around and going nowhere with any purpose to it. Some might, in my opinion; but few of us, I think, dog-paddle without any attachments at all. The question of concern, however, is whether, in the middle of our mess, His anchor-line has us secured, His promise not just written in a Book, but an inner reality rising to meet us in our journey. That doesn’t necessarily require seclusion and separation, just a heart willing and hungry to know Him in the connection…..

Friday, December 23, 2011


There were only seventeen men at the mission Wednesday, not counting my group and a couple of fellows who run the operation; but then, such as those places be that we visit with the Gospel, maybe a reduction in the number attending our service is something for which we need to give thanks. It was a good bunch, ears and hearts with us as we shared; and it was Tony, again, who seemed to “catch the wind” of the Holy Ghost, bringing us together in where we were going, his words pointing us to Christ, not just his version of the Book. “Salvation is both an encounter and a relationship maintained,” he suggested, “not via religious formulas, but through a commitment of oneself to His companionship in the next step.” I would agree... This weekend those truly in the faith will celebrate the birth of a baby divinely conceived within the womb of a virgin, what can be nothing other than a miracle, a mystery beyond our comprehension. It is an event marking the genesis of what we claim to be so, for without it the first book of the Bible loses much in its own declaration of the beginning. Most of the world and much of the ecclesiastical institution, itself, however, dismiss such proclamation as a fairytale and merely content themselves with the holiday festivities. Their acceptance of the resurrection on the other end of the spectrum has also evolved into nothing more than a traditional ritual, either completely rejecting what appears to be impossible or else carving it into a fictional face on the totem pole. Christ, though, is reality of His own making. He is the breath of life, the bread of our existence, and a river in our soul, that which ought to give its own witness of truth as we go. All else is just humanity in its stumble…..

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


A pastor friend of mine went through some hard times a few years back, a difficult walk in the darkness that tested his faith, a book by R.T. Kendall being one of the biggest tools used by God in seeing him survive. It was titled “God Meant It for Good” and he gave me a copy. I didn’t get much out of it. Even so, I purchased another of the author’s works called “The Anointing: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” and just recently blew the dust off it for a second attempt to gain something from its perusal. In this one, the writer does bring forth a lot of truth in his understanding of such term; but, nonetheless, my repeated digesting of his words only reminds me why this one, too, was long ago placed on my shelf beside the other. In equating this Spiritual blessing with a temporary state of divinely empowered performance of one’s gift, he gives it definition that, in my opinion, is pretty much “right on”; yet, in failing to assign the Holy Ghost’s role in the matter as anything other than an influence that comes to us from on high, he leaves me frustrated. It's like watching all those contestants on “Wheel of Fortune” who so often can’t seem to see what’s staring them right in the face. His attributing a state of "loneliness", though, as being part of “following Him in our individuality” (my phrase, not his), as being part of the price one has to pay speaks to me. In this, the two of uswsuch mannerTo me, he puts the two of us, if not all of us who see “Truth” as something other than “herd mentality”, as Christ before us and all else merely the journey as it comes to us, in the same boat. He talks, however, in one place, of knowing himself to be “absolutely” correct about some issue. I would be more inclined to believe only that One in front of me holds such position, everything else being a stumble, and the important thing to remember: all within the Body are likewise occupying their own stagger down the path. In maintaining our personal pursuit, never, even in such time that we might find ourselves immersed in His presence, are we anything more than others. When we lose His heart, His compassion, His humility, we are annulled, not anointed……

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Aah so......................................."

The Christmas crowd was not all that thick yesterday morning. Beth yet wanted a particular pair of basketball sneakers for one of the grandsons and we had driven out to the nearby mall in hope that one of those sports stores might have them. While there, however, this old man remembered his own request for a new belt, not that there was any immediate danger of losing my trousers, but I had just recently noted some aging on the part of that which holds up my dignity. Penny’s was my choice for the purchase. I was not prepared for the price. More than that, though, the real “kicker” was the ubiquitous “made in China” that was stamped into the leather of every brand, Levi, Stafford, Dockers, it mattered not the manufacturer’s name. Shocked? Not really. Puzzled? A bit. I mean, why so many labels? Why not just sell them all under “Po Ling Mao Products”? It rather redefines “global economy”, doesn’t it?... In a little old-time holiness church, nearly forty years ago, at least once a week we would usually hear a sermon on eschatology, prophesy taken from Biblical books like Revelation and Daniel wherein preachers predicted what would happen, not so much “in the end of all things” as it was “in the finality of the Gospel”. It was all coming down to “one-world government, currency, and woes”, Israel being attacked from the north by one enemy and another from the south coming from the far East. Do I need to name who that latter foe was said to be? In my own mind there used to be an image of some huge mass army of yellow-skinned barbarian cavalry warriors charging in with spears and sabers. We’re speaking, after all, of four decades back. Nowadays the picture has changed. I used to declare that it would not be nuclear war bringing this country down. You can have all the weaponry you want; but if you don’t have the money to arm, man, and move it, how much force does one really possess? It used to be Khrushchev I pointed to as occupying our television sets some morning, sitting there in the White House pounding his shoe on the table; but any more it’s more like some Asian fellow who will probably be behind the desk in the oval office, smiling at us with a smug grin on his face as he offers us a credit card……

Monday, December 19, 2011


There were five of us Sunday morning who visited the Detention Center for worship with the kids, but the two women in our group declined to speak, Tony’s wife along for her first experience in such matters. Mark, my son-in-law, dealing with much on his mind lately, merely played a couple of carols on his saxophone and then yielded the floor, leaving this old man and Tony close to an hour to fill with something other than just another sermon. Chapter and verse, as far as I’m concerned, belongs in a classroom. We don’t go to teach them Scripture, but to share Christ, and the best way to do that, it seems to me, is to relax, allowing Him to come forth. Indeed, that specific theme was where the Holy Ghost had us both focused, weaving our individual portions together so as to speak of the possibility of “knowing” His reality, not just accepting denominational dogma… My church, last night, presented its yearly Christmas pageant, each production growing as we go, this occasion possessing a full orchestra seated mid-stage, the usual musicians, otherwise, occupying the darkness to their left and the choir loft on their right stuffed with the properly positioned ranges of the human vocal potentials. The sanctuary was packed, folding chairs added until emergency escape would have hard, if not impossible, to accomplish. I stood in the rear by the sound booth awhile and then left, the whole affair a bit too much for me, nice, but not meeting me on the inside, my fault, no doubt, not theirs… I am reinstituting a tradition this holiday, one practiced for more than a decade and then abandoned out of a sense that it had lost its “flow”. Spontaneity, doing things from an impulse, a feeling that triggers the event, not because the date or anything else suggests it, is my idea of how it ought to be. It just seems right this time around, though, to once more give each one of my daughters a card, expressing my heart, making sure that they know it is yet strongly connected to them. Call it an “anchor-line” or a spiritual “umbilical cord”, but we all need, at times, on either end of that bond, to be reassured of its existence. I know I do with Him…

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Twice lately I’ve found myself travelling behind the same automobile, a fact made know to me by, more than anything else, its rear license plate. I’m assuming that “EINGMA” is intentional in its misspelling of the word “ENIGMA” and not just someone’s attempt to announce they’re driving a German-made General Motors product. Arranging the letters to form a bit of mystery, however, is “right up my alley”, simple humor, in my opinion, much better than an opinionated bumper sticker. Give me a pun, not your dirty joke. It doesn’t have to get vulgar to be funny. I find life a serious matter, people precious in their existence, but often strange in their character, and me the biggest banana in the bunch. My wife puts it in terms of me having no personality and she’s probably right. Conversation, on my end, usually involves “open mouth, insert foot”. Nonetheless, I’m quite happy. A good book, a walk in the woods, seeing others, young and old, excited, amused, in love, and enjoying the day as it comes to them – it all somehow feeds me in my own moment. “Old dogs, children, and watermelon wine” was the way that country vocalist Tom T. Hall put it. Give me a hot cup of coffee rather than the latter, but he’s pretty close, as far as I’m concerned, otherwise. Old age has no doubt refined this old man, but the fellow who resides inside has always been pretty much the same. Knock! Knock! Who’s there? Sam and Janet! Sam and Janet who? Sammmmmm and Janet evening, you will meet a stranger…….

Friday, December 16, 2011


For the third week in a row, our Wednesday evening Bible study examined the first seventeen verses of Romans, Chapter One. If that seems to indicate the class is either dull or devoted to driving home a point, I can only offer that, from my viewpoint, the hour and a half is anything but. On this occasion, our focus was on “the Gospel” being “the power” of God unto salvation and, as a group, through testimony and exhortation we flowed with the teacher as to how that played out in our lives. Were we unified in all that was shared? Not in the sense of everyone being in agreement (or at least I can admit to my own lack of completely “swallowing” some perspectives); but at no time did anyone get their feathers ruffled enough to openly attack the other fellow’s position. Along the way, though, I did take the teacher back to a phrase he had earlier quoted to us from 1st Corinthians. The apostle Paul, in one place, in no uncertain terms, labels “the preaching of the cross” as being “foolishness” and our leader saw that in terms of the message, itself, being an inane tale to tell. That may well be true in so far as any believer trying to convince the world of a virgin birth, an empty tomb, and a resurrected Savior’ but it is also an accurate description of any man’s attempt to be anything in his witness other than a vessel for the Holy Ghost. Humanity on either end of such exchange needs divine influence if it is to accomplish anything!......

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Our ideology, what we believe, is shaped in us from our earliest years. Life, itself, teaches us, education coming to us, but reality as we perceive it to be reconfiguring things as we go. Our theology, what we hold to be true concerning God, likewise evolves, or at least it should. Anyone who thinks the Creator capable of being kept locked up in a box, restricted by our individual interpretation of the Word, is playing with religion, following a blueprint instead of a resurrection. On either side of that issue, however, it must be noted that we all walk in our humanity and therefore reason enough for each of us to continually “examine” ourselves, even as Paul advised the people of Corinth. In reading that particular portion of Scripture, though, it might do us well to note that the apostle doesn’t equate that activity with a self-assembled checklist as to how we measure up to our denomination’s demands; rather he simply points to a Holy Ghost manifestation providing confirmation of our not having become reprobate. Indeed, if I’m not in error, Jesus, Himself, points to the Spirit as being the main agent involved in determining our salvation, not in terms of Him standing there at the pearly Gates, waiting to authorize our entry, but, in plain language, as that One who confirms us in our stumble, our stagger, and our steadfastness in the next step. He is our teacher, our keeper, our rod and our staff, the Reality whom we, the body of Christ, as whole, seem to have either dismissed or replaced in this with our own set of rules. Maybe it is time for we, the Church, to examine ourselves before we are so quick to judge the world for our lack of savor?........

Monday, December 12, 2011


Sunday’s morning visit to the Youth Detention Center was a bit different in the fact that our group almost outnumbered the one before us. The guard informed us, as we passed through a small six-foot square space separating the foyer from the inner sanctum of the facility, that it had already been a few hours of “attitude” and that most of the kids were in “lock-down”. We followed him, then, down a hallway, needing to be allowed passage beyond two more doors before reaching an open recreational area, television mounted on the wall and not much there otherwise, plastic green chairs replacing whatever might have been there and arranged for our hour of sharing. Less than twenty boys were marched in to fill the seats and I opened with a short prayer… This is “church” for me, the only music shared on this occasion being a couple of Christmas carols that my son-in-law brought forth on his sax, a chorus in which I attempted to get them to join me a-cappella, and another short song that one of women with us produced in like manner. There were seven of us, each addressing our “congregation” not more than ten minutes apiece, and yet the message, as a whole, seemingly one, woven together by the Holy Ghost. “God is for us”, we determined, “and He will take us beyond any walls that deter us, if we but invite Him along for the journey.” No one had to ask for a show of hands. When eyes begin to outwardly reflect what’s going on in the heart, it’s pretty evident that the Spirit is at work in our midst……

Saturday, December 10, 2011


The final chapter of “A Place for Truth” is a “sermon” delivered by R.J. Sider, a controversial Mennonite professor of theology identified with the Christian left. He opens with a short statement regarding his having long ago conquered, as a historian, all his religious questions and doubts, all, that is, except one: the church. Naming two specific areas where he finds the Body, as a whole, to be “messed up” (our views of both the Creation and the Gospel), he immediately proceeds to share his own perspectives, reducing the first to being an Edenic work of the Creator and proclaiming it to be every believer’s divinely appointed to duty to restore wholeness unto it. He defines “Gospel” as “the kingdom of God already being in our midst, therefore repent and participate” (my attempt to shorten his words), equates Israel’s idea of a “Messianic order” with a society transformed both vertically and horizontally by a relationship wherein it knows shalom, justice, and a completeness, adding just after that bit of enlightenment how the way we enter into this community of believers is “by sheer grace”. My biggest problem with him boils down to his seeming lack of providing any real “identity” to the Holy Ghost, his “drive”, righteous though it may be, borne more out of his own determination than by any Spiritual tug on his inner man. I will admit, however, that I find most of us guilty of the same accusation, even to the point of confessing my own liability in such transgression. In this day and age, pointing to the Third Person of the Trinity in such terms might well tend to associate me with all the radical extremes that television Pentecostal evangelism has produced; but my own journey, while having encountered His presence, here and there, in enough depth to convince me of an inner re-connection with the Savior, nonetheless never has brought me to consider an authority other than His in the flow of things. Christ saves, heals, and corrects us as we go. It is a stumble down the path wherein He remains my rod and staff, my anchor-line, indeed my very source of life……

Friday, December 9, 2011


My Bibles are filled with various addenda, notes scribbled in the side margins, whole paragraphs of my own thinking inserted wherever the publisher was kind enough to leave me enough blank space to opine, quotations and cartoons on either end, I collect it all. In the one I picked up this morning, Charlie Brown and Linus met me with a bit of humor that exactly matched my frame of mind. Four panels, the first beginning with the two resting their elbows on some sort of wall and the latter expressing his desire to be a prophet when he “gets big”; then the other answering how he believed that to be “a fine ambition, especially since the world could always use a few good prophets”. Not stopping there, however, the guy who always seems to get the short end of the stick went on to note how so many of them turn out to be wrong in what they prophesy; and, ever the optimistic fellow, Linus replies that maybe he can be “a sincere false prophet”!... Smiling in my perusal, I pondered if, while the Church may indeed contain its share of hypocrites, perhaps the rest of us who claim membership therein might not well fall into this category. Not that the message of Christ has no validity; rather that we, in our dissemination of it, even though we have good intentions, struggle with our humanity. N.T. Wright speaks of our needing, as believers, to learn that, just because we possess the Book, it doesn’t mean we possess truth in its entirety. We are meant to be vessels for Truth; or, as C.S. Lewis put it: “The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it!” In other words, if Christ be in us, then He is well able to bear witness of Himself if we but get out of the way……

Thursday, December 8, 2011


"The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it!"....C.S.Lewis

Our Wednesday evening class, for the most part, simply retraced those same verses in the first chapter of Romans that we examined last week. Our time, however, wasn’t spent in a repetition of the same perspectives shared before; rather the teacher spoke of how often we believers settle into a familiarity with what he termed “church-eology”, utilizing Biblical linguistics without ever exploring “the story behind the words”. Thus, beginning with “servant” and explaining why that one might have been better translated as “slave” in the King James version, he took us through “apostle”, “the Gospel”, “salvation”, and “freedom” as well, the latter subject occupying most of our plate, all of us seemingly with opinions on that subject. This morning I e-mailed him with a Dallas Willard quote declaring: "Our beliefs are the rails upon which our lives run. We believe something if we are set to act as if it were so; but, if our beliefs are false, reality does not accommodate our errors. A brief but useful characterization of reality is what you run into when you are wrong." Noting my agreement, I offered the following: Freedom we do possess in Christ. It allows for the wobble in our walk. Grace, more than a word, is the Spirit, Himself, alive within us, witness and confirmation of His patience with us. Being His slave is our willingness to follow His tug on the anchor-line, probably that area in which we are most prone to fail, dumb sheep that we are, rebellion not always the cause of our stagger… I am prone to speak my heart. It doesn't make me always right. It does hinder me in conversation, in crowds, on the telephone, always an inner fear of opening mouth and inserting foot, making me the fool and angering or hurting the other person. Pursuing Christ, however, is a passion and I love such classes where the Body of Christ can come together in such purpose without making war……

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


”He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end”… Ecclesiates 3:11

This weekend, even though we’ve switched assigned slots on the schedule, I’ll still be going to the Detention Center as a tag-a-long with my buddy’s group. That means, unless the Holy Ghost moves otherwise, there’s no expectation of me addressing the kids for any real length of time and probably no more than simply a few words in closing. One never knows, however, and thus there is always reason enough to go with something on my heart. You feed the inner man and then just trust the Spirit to provide the meal along with the moment, should it happen. The above verse has returned to me, popping up into my thoughts like a bubble somehow released from depths within and hanging around as if meant to focus my thinking. The Greek use of what King James refers to as “world” actually equates to one “having no end”, other versions since changing translation thereof to read “eternity”. For me, this is an example where discovering the original root indeed opens the mind to what the writer is really saying: Inside each of us, it would seem, is this void, this inability to comprehend “the big picture”, not just the mechanics of all that exists around us, but that vast unfathomable universe beyond us with all its quarks and quantum physics as well. Who are we? Why are we here? Is there any purpose to this? What happens next? Some look up and, blown away by such inconceivable magnitude, can’t find faith; others, presented with the same evidence, somehow touch the hem of His garment and stand amazed at the fullness of His grace. Even so, for all, it is a journey, God’s love not willing that any should perish……

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Yesterday afternoon’s march to the bus with the kids was a comedy of errors, the first time this year, for one thing, that the weather presented us with any real difficulty with the task. Rain was falling in a fair amount and, with four youngsters in tow, carrying an umbrella isn’t really a viable solution. One just ignores the downpour and accomplishes the feat as quickly as possible. One of our boys, though, spends most of his time with his homeroom classmates, returning to us but the last two hours of the day; and, at the last minute on this occasion, I found myself having to run upstairs to that particular unit in order to retrieve a folder. No big deal; or at least so it seemed. The substitute teacher would finish matching up clothing and articles with the proper students. On my return, another woman swapped one of her girls with us for the boy just reunited with his material (a matter of convenience for both of us) and left for her own journey through the wetness outside. Only my charge remained to be dressed for the trip. But wait a minute! Where’s HIS jacket? Discovering that the sub had mistakenly put this covering on the other lad who was already headed out front, I dashed out, got the boy, rushed to the upper level to search for his coat, downstairs again to get our crew and escort the bunch through what was now the whole school making the same exit, ensure each child boarded the right yellow vehicle, all with Mother Nature’s spigot yet turned on, and then back inside for an hour of instruction agreed to last week. It would be later, while driving home, that it would occur to me as to question whether the one fellow’s expensive Ipad that returns each day to his parents got stuffed into his backpack. Their number was in the book, however, and a phone-call to them about seven o’clock let me verify the sub’s handling of the matter, this old man finally able to put it all behind him and relax for the evening. No complaints. These kinds of moments tend to keep it all spontaneous and make it more interesting than just simply sitting on my front porch whittling, waiting for the next train to pass by……

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Sorting It Out........................................."

Inspired by the idea that Harvard’s motto was more than a meaningless relic of the past, in 1992 a small group of Christians at the school hosted the university for a weekend of lectures and discussions exploring some of life’s most important questions. Their hope was to restore within the university a space for asking such deep queries, seeking real answers and building community around the search for truth. I’m, at the moment, about six chapters into a book filled with ideas and thoughts of fifteen individuals, scientists, multi-denominational leaders of the Church, and highly degreed professors, most claiming to be believers. This was not a debate. With at least one agnostic in the group, I would label this bunch (N.T. Wright and Tim Keller among them) as being “cautious” in whose voice they followed in their faith. They don’t just “run with the herd”. Within its pages, Rene Descartes is quoted as declaring he would not accept anything as true that he could reasonably doubt. That might be a bit drastic, but consider Dallas Willard’s statement presented in the introduction: “Our beliefs are the rails upon which our lives run. We believe something if we are set to act as if it were so; but if our beliefs are false reality does not adjust to accommodate our errors. A brief but useful characterization of reality is what you run into when you are wrong.” My favorite thus far, though, was provided by Richard John Neuhaus, a Catholic priest who observed truth to be “something that more possesses us than we possess it”. Whether his so expressing that idea agrees with my interpretation of it, I cannot say, but it certainly speaks to me of that which the Body of Christ has, for the most part, lost along the way: Jesus, Himself, is the only definitive exactness of truth; and the best any of us can do, in so far as owning it, is to trust neither our head nor our heart more than we do His reins attached to both……

Friday, December 2, 2011


Last night was a strange experience for me. My day was like any other lately, uncertainty in the structure of our classroom, but normal routine in so far as interaction with the kids. Beth’s oldest brother, in his eighties and a WWII Purple Heart veteran of Okinawa,

was led to Christ by his younger brother and she called me at school with the good news. We went out for Chinese when I got home, cancelling plans to pick up a new dryer we are getting. Maybe it was the weather. The rain we've had the last few days

had finally ended and, although the dampness yet in the air made it brisk outside, at least it wasn’t icy cold. Darkness, though, was quickly swallowing up the world around us as I parked the car near the front doors of the church.
I was tired, and as the two of us entered the sanctuary, it was as if some spirit of depression, a mood that had actually been growing in me the last few hours, began to own me as well. Nothing so “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. I didn’t grow fangs and turn green. In truth, however, for about fifteen minutes, seated five or six rows back, on the aisle and to the left of the alter area, I was in a funk. Then the lights went out… From both sides, across the stage marched the entire Elementary grades, all dressed in Christmas colors and looking proud, filling the risers, l’il diddles in front, the older and taller to the upper ranks. My grandson was nearly centered in the group, his blonde hair butch-waxed to stand tall just above his forehead and, at one point, he would step forward to speak a line into a microphone that he almost couldn’t reach standing on his tiptoes. My granddaughter descended several times from her tier also, her hair “crunched” (according to my wife), her whole outfit just purchased by Mamaw for the occasion. Tears ran down my face as they all sang carol after carol, telling the story of a babe born in a manger and flooding my heart with a sense of His love… In this life, moments sometimes catch us fatigued, weary in the way and pondering the journey thus far; He, nonetheless, remains an oasis wherein we might be renewed. Refreshing last night, for me, was an inner overflowing primed by a heavenly choir……

Thursday, December 1, 2011


”If I profess with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ no matter how boldly I may be professing Christ”…Martin Luther

With such quote, the author of “Truth Under Fire” introduces his subject matter, speaking of “the Gospel” as being God’s revelation of Himself in human form and in human history, and adding his opinion that today’s church “has lost its intellect and therefore its mind”. Elsewhere he points to “truth demanding confrontation”. I would agree; and if I were privileged to have this man face to face, would only suggest to him that the intellect we have lost and which, for the most part, no longer seek, (whether out of non-belief or merely our own vanity, I’m hesitant to say) is, as the Scripture so state, “the mind of Christ”…. Our number attending Wednesday Bible study rose to more than twenty-five last night, all eager to wade into the first chapter of Romans. The teacher gave us excellent background on the Apostle Paul and the early church where now we find the Vatican, but mostly we fell into a discussion of a definition for both “the Gospel” and our “faith”. Near the end, declaring my words to reflect no more than my own understanding learned in the journey thus far, I identified that latter term as being strongly secured in Him even though , as far as what I actually held to be definite about myself in this walk was a possession always under construction. “Experience”, I noted, “demands continual examination of what we claim to be true” and I utilized for an example a prayer completed many years ago wherein the “Holy Spirit” had me greatly convince a connection established with Him guaranteed a young woman’s deliverance from her sickness. She died the next day, a good indication to me that it might well benefit me to rethink just what I did believe. In response, however, the person right behind me supplied the typical defense most who occupy Christian ranks hold, telling me the death indeed was just another kind of “cure”. I didn’t argue; but, in truth, it wasn’t the tragedy that gave me concern, rather my own doctrinal outlook. Why is it, I wonder, that so many seem to find it almost blasphemous to ponder it all, as if one’s “faith” must be set in concrete or it isn’t worth anything at all?......