Sunday, December 30, 2012


My middle daughter, Jamie, has lived in Lexington, a little over an hour away from us, since she got married about twenty-five years ago. The distance is not all that great, but life, in general, has a way of creating its own walls. Jobs, children, commitments keep our schedules conflicted. It doesn’t take much to separate people physically. Beth and I are very happy, therefore, to have her staying with us a few nights before checking into a nearby hotel her new employer is providing while she trains in this area for the next few weeks. She’s going with us to early church service this morning. I’m, as usual, up and stirring before anybody else, hiding out in the computer room, an electric heater here beside me taking the chill off the room. The other truth of the moment would be my realizing just a short while back that, rather than piddling around on this “brain box”, such time would really profit me better if given first to prayer. How others accomplish that latter, I know not; but, for this fellow, it simply means trying to “connect” with that “living water” which is available for me in Christ. If, in seeking that portion of the promise already received, my words are not brought forth in some formulated format, but merely whatever comes to mind and spoken just as I’d talk to anyone else, that doesn’t mean the event is undertaken with no recognition of whose presence is sought. Let it be noted, however, that, for whatever reason, “hook-up” doesn’t always occur and, when that happens, silence on the other end doesn’t discourage me. I simply keep going back to the well. “Failure” to engage in a tangible manner, it seems to me, is usually attributable to fatigue, be it mental or be it physical; and “success” works much like this old man’s solution to sudden loss of memory, a state he finds himself in quite often anymore. Grunting and groaning in some strained attempt to locate whatever it is that has suddenly slipped my mind doesn’t help at all. Relaxing and letting the mystery come to me, though, never seems to let me down, whether trying to recall the name of this guy talking to me or kneeling down to knock on His door. It’s a lot like the old iced-tea commercial where you simply turn around and fall backwards into the pool, the space between forgotten, faith a matter of knowing He has never missed catching you before……

Friday, December 28, 2012


Our weather here changed drastically Wednesday afternoon, snow and ice making the roads a dangerous situation for about four hours, just enough time for the powers that be to cancel church. No class. What a bummer. By morning, other than the temperature remaining quite frigid, all else was back to normal and, in truth, we were lucky compared to what other parts of the country suffered from the storm. “Limbo-itis” has me, I suppose, this particular week between the holidays long seeming to me like somebody just turns off the clock, the world in slow-motion and me sitting here doing not much more than twiddling my thumbs. We are told in the Bible, in reference to a man’s mouth, that a fountain ought not bring forth at the same place both bitter and sweet; but the Book also recognizes that a man’s humanity flows from the depths of who he is, what he is at any moment, his mood all a matter of how connected he is with that One who is able to heal the waters. Is a new year really a new beginning; or is time merely a flat surface stretched from infinity unto eternity, broken into marked segments for us to maintain some sense of where we’ve been and how much is in front of us? Caught in such scenario, the questions become “Is this all there is? Do I really believe that, beyond my final breath, my existence continues?” The answer, of course, is a personal matter, faith a substance we all individually maintain and its guarantee secure only in as much as that to which we attach it proves it to be. When the woman with the issue of blood caught hold of the hem of His garment, when Peter, suddenly sinking into the water, reached up and caught hold of His hand, however, all doubt, for the moment at least, was gone. Thus, for me anyhow, assurance is not maintained out of chapter and verse, Scripture but a piece of the puzzle, a part of the well, itself, and, indeed, that site put under each person’s responsibility to both visit and insure for themself that it stays in working order. It is, after all, what keeps us as we go……

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


With those families in Connecticut yet on my mind and in my prayers, I was approached by a fellow suffering a different kind of separation, looking for answers to his situation. There are, of course, no good explanations for the mystery of man. There is, in my theology at least, no “quick cure” for life as it comes unto us. Does that leave us, then, as believers with nothing to offer the world in terms of Christianity being a source of hope, a promise of peace and strength accessible to us in this present darkness? I really do wonder sometimes when all I hear out of the Church is a demand for “faith”, one side of that coin preaching it as if such possession is a self-produced ability to perform miracles, and the other bunch, while also seeing it an attribute we, ourselves, create, defining it much like an inter-dimensional cord affording us little other than hope of life after death. Seems to me the reality of a supernatural entity, the Third PERSON of the Trinity to which we all confess in our credos, has been squeezed out of existence by both parties, the latter stripping Him of all identity and the first believing they, themselves, have been transformed into His likeness. Truth gets muzzled or misplaced and those in need of substance get, instead, merely chapter and verse with no breath breathed into it. Too easy, I think, to quote the Bible as if it can, alone, produce Christ. Better to claim our own need of submergence into Him, to take the hand of those hurting, admit our own inadequacy, and invite them to walk with us “beyond the veil” in hope of knowing His presence. Somewhere in this we’ve lost, not only the Ark of the Covenant, but the Holy of Holies as well……

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Beth and I dined at Don Pablo’s last night, along with some other guests my nephew had invited to attend a special Christmas presentation at his church. Mark is fifty. About ten years ago he and his family left their former assembly, one the young teenage daughter had know her whole life. She had visited this one with a friend, returned to ask her parents to go “just once”, and the three caught a vision of “being part of the kingdom” never previously entertained. I use that last word not in jest, the girl now in her twenties and about to enter into missionary work abroad. This new congregation, to which they not only attached themselves, but also deeply invested themselves as well, is not your usual Sunday worship center. Originally birthed in an abandoned Home Depot, Crossroads now holds a couple of sanctuaries, both resembling a movie theater and the larger of the two possessing a pair of balconies, one above the other. The foyer is vast enough to contain a half dozen coffee islands plus a number of various stations where, last night at least, one could purchase cookies or kettle popcorn. We sat in that first upper level, center stage; and, for about an hour, witnessed the birth of Christ from a new perspective. The message was not changed, in any form or fashion; but the performance, itself, was worthy of any Broadway show, members of the cast surely including a number of professional musicians and dancers. A huge screen behind all the action continually displayed video that enhanced the theme, the individual scenes being brought forth in front of it not your usual “Joseph and Mary dressed in robes and kneeling by the babe in the manger”. This was meant to speak to this generation, to those willing to “bend a bit” concerning a mental image of the occasion formerly held. Characters were costumed to enhance the story, not to reflect the culture as it was. I loved the shepherd, who marched in single file to a rhythm maintained by the pounding of their “staffs” upon the floor, their attire making them look more like “warrior workers” rather than “countrified herdsmen”. A woman dressed in sheer veils of black-purple, joined by a host of small children in similar garments, all holding lanterns to illuminate the darkness, sang a version of “Silent Night” that touched my soul. Indeed, at the end, when the entire group, along with “angels on high”, brought forth “O Come Let Us Adore Him”, this old man was in tears and tongues. Different? It was, in truth, different. It didn’t betray the Gospel’s claim of a virgin birth, however, proclaiming loud and clear “divinity incarnate”. I have no problem with worshipping that statement when and wherever I find it……

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Early Saturday morning, a bit of a chill in the house and I’m sitting in the recliner under a couple of wool blankets with the furnace set to give the two electric heaters a jumpstart for the rest of the day. A cup of hot coffee sits beside me. It’s quiet, a good time to read, pray, and just think in whichever way the Spirit takes me. Sometimes the magnitude of life, in general, overwhelms this old man, the mystery of it all, though, secured by that “anchor-line” restored unto me over forty years ago. I talk with God about my children and my grandchildren, my sister and hers, family my younger brother left behind when he passed, and other relatives of mine whose history gives little evidence of possessing any sort of faith. The latter takes my mind to the Detention Center, those young teens we visit on a bi-monthly schedule, held prisoner, not only by a judicial system, but also by an environment wherein they’ve never known much in the way of hope from the very beginning. How does all that work out, I wonder, when it’s all over and we, as individuals, come before the Judgment Seat of our Creator? Where will the Church stand then? Accountable for but those we’ve managed to “maintain” within our sanctuaries? Does it all, in the end, come down to nothing more than “denominational checkpoints” where our certificate of having adopted certain doctrinal points is verified before entrance is gained? Somehow I fail to see that as the message proclaimed by Christ. As believers, we were meant to be “leaven in the lump”, “Carriers of the Cause”, not “Crusaders of the Covenant”. It is not a religious formula that has been entrusted to me. The Key to the Kingdom is not just an interpretation of chapter and verse, but a resurrection of the Living Word, alive in me and capable, in some strange way, of penetrating others through me. Love, peace, and hope are all elements of this Truth, abiding within and feeding me as I go, yet given me for the purpose of sharing them with all I meet in the journey. In the end, it seems to me at least, it will be as it ever was: an evaluation of each one’s heart and determined by His righteousness, not mine……

Friday, December 21, 2012


It’s Friday morning here. A light snow has fallen overnight, but not much more than a dusting. Those who make their living off of Mother Nature are predicting we could yet get one to three inches. If it remains in such minimal dosage, though, a White Christmas shouldn’t mean having to shovel a path out to my car before going anywhere. Today begins a two-week vacation from school, yesterday merely seven hours of “Polar Express”, Charlie Brown, and a magic show for the kids. The teacher surprised me with a gift, a small paperback Henri Nouwen book entitled “Life of the Beloved”. I’m already halfway through it. While the author, thus far, has failed to mention the Holy Spirit in any way whatsoever, in writing to one of his friends and inviting the whole world to listen, he breaks down the Eucharist into four terms (Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given) and has me, at the moment, in deep thought. His message, in essence, seems to me “the tie that binds”. An old Navy buddy of mine, one who lives in rural Alabama and reads most of these musings brought forth on this site, recently e-mailed me a column posted by a journalist whose usual genre is sports. The Newtown tragedy, however, moved him to express his grief in a manner wherein he described his own children, three young daughters, specifically the oldest. His prayer for them moved me to the point that I may share it in some way with my own girls when we gather here as a family Monday evening. In a world where we are divided in so many ways, where evil abounds and often little makes sense, His grace not only abides, it provides an anchor of assurance, an umbilical cord of hope. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on……

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Once Upon a Time.................."

Saturday Beth and I went to see “The Hobbit”. Actually I saw it; she slept through most of it. That fact did not surprise me, her interests being, like any other woman’s, on romance, package it in any form you wish. This was nearly three hours of fairytale minus Pixar, evil versus a band of gnomes, a wizard, and Bilbo Baggins. The only female presence, of any significance throughout the film, was some sort of queen of the elves (who, by the way, in this story are not portrayed as Tinkerbells), this attractive lady standing a good six feet tall, possessing telepathic powers, but definitely not written into the script for the purpose of love being birthed in its plot. Nope; this is a man’s movie; and, for all that, it smacks a little of “roadrunner comedy”, bringing “unbelievable” to another level, and is not much more than a way to make more money off of “Lord of the Rings”. Will I go see the sequel that is sure to follow? Probably. For seven dollars and fifty cents (senior’s cost), it was a good time, for me anyhow… One might wonder how an old man, so avid for truth, for as much explanation as possible concerning faith in Scripture, could be so entertained by the likes of science fiction, myth, and folklore. Beth makes fun of me when I point out discrepancies in television shows or the “chick flicks” we watch together; but, in truth, my irritation is with error, not with fantasy. Likewise, when it comes to theology, I have no problem with people “working out their own salvation”, but do think they ought to be able to at least plausibly define the terms of their credo; and I say that realizing we all come up short in having solved the mystery in its entirety. Such is my point, however. God save those who consider themselves already “arrived”; God give us all hunger and thirst to ever pursue Him “through the veil”; and God give us eyes to understand the journey is individual, each of us in our own relationship. My experience doesn’t have to be duplicated……

Sunday, December 16, 2012


After posting my last entry, something inside just kept pressing me, eventually sending me back to re-write the ending; and, even then, my words failed to bring forth that which was on my heart. When such tragedy occurs, we all tend to want some sort of explanation, someone or something to accuse; but, in truth, evil seldom makes sense. There are no quick solutions. My pastor, in this morning’s sermon, declared that “The only way to dissipate darkness is to shine a bright light”; and, in essence, his remark is pretty much what I was trying to say. His message would end with a plea for all there to know a faith secure enough to anchor them in the midst of the storm and he had me on my feet, his emphasis close enough to my original remark about losing them “in the pews long before they ever succumb to the world”. We are told in Proverbs that as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he”; and one might think that deep enough roots for anybody. Jeremiah, however, informs us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”. Indeed, in another place that prophet notes how “the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps”. For me, then, it all adds up to even my “faith” not being any guarantee of being “right”. What I have gained in Christ is a resurrected Truth who abides in my “belly”. In Him I trust. To Him I turn. As the old hymn puts it: “How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er”; not merely in the sense of finding Him trustworthy, but also in the sense of His patience with me being more than my stumble down the road. This is what I want for my kids and my grandkids, His reins upon their heart, His light upon their path giving witness enough for others to follow…….

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The Elementary school where I’ve worked within the Special-Ed department for over a decade now is the largest such facility in our county, the addition of pre-school classes a few years ago bringing our student population to somewhere around a thousand. This tragedy that occurred in Connecticut Friday hit home with me. We have a security system. People are monitored and buzzed through our front entrance each and every day. Adults all need either an identity badge or a visitor sticker; and a lock-down drill is but one of several practiced on occasion. Nevertheless, in truth it would not be all that hard for someone to gain entrance and wreak havoc if they were so inclined. I think about it often. It is, after all, part of who we are anymore as a society. Some would blame the 2nd Amendment. Some would point their finger at the educational system, itself. For me, it's simply a matter of humanity being humanity and the place to start looking for answers is in the mirror. The problem, of course, is far beyond one person's ability to eradicate. One person can, however, be a vessel for the Holy Ghost, can allow "Christ in me" to be more than a doctrinal tenet, and can give witness to the Resurrection being a reality in our midst, not just a hope we hold of Heaven. It's why the Detention Center is important. It's why each day matters. There are no guarantees; but we can know His hand in the next step......

Thursday, December 13, 2012


One might think a fellow over forty years a believer in Christ would really be into celebrating His birth; but, in truth, there’s not much about all the hoopla we’ve attached to it that speaks to me. When you boil it all down, gifts, decorated trees, mall crowds and traffic jams, Santa Claus fun to share with the little diddles, if the Babe in the manger hasn’t been born as well in a man’s “belly”, all one really has is man still searching to answer the emptiness inside himself. Tuesday evening the Elementary level at our church school brought forth a Christmas cantata. All of the kids were in holiday colors, red, white, and black, with a splash of grey here and there. One chubby little dark-haired girl in the front row to the far right, no doubt in the First Grade or Kindergarten, however, was wearing a blue satiny dress; but what really one’s drew attention to her was the way she held both sides of the skirt as she swung her hips to the rhythm of the music. On the other end of that same row to the left, her counterpart, another child, thin with long brown hair and in a red velvet outfit, continually danced around as well, her focus more on her mother than the program. Eventually she would be repositioned. If my heart was captured from the very start by such simplicity, though, the message within the lyrics of the carols they shared touched something deeper within me. For a little over thirty minutes the Grinch was gone. The Spirit had me rejoicing in “the reason for the season”……

Sunday, December 9, 2012


A friend at school introduced me, Friday, to a beautiful new contemporary gospel song entitled “Redeemed”. The lyrics speak of struggling, being “haunted by ghosts that lived in my past”, and being “bound up and shackled in all of my failures”; but also declare God enabling us to “shake off these heavy chains” and to “wipe away every stain” while we go forward in Him. I find them powerful words, yet the message easily misunderstood if one doesn’t wrap it all up in the one line that points to a need to remember “O God, You’re not done with me yet”. Indeed, this is part of the message that went with me this morning to the Youth Detention Center, this plus some dialogue between two different women I know only through blogdom, each battling breast cancer and mentally dealing with what seems to them partial loss of their identity. Two separate view points about the journey and yet compassion between them in realizing Christ meets us where we are as individuals, every experience in Him “tailor-made”, His patience and His love bigger than our humanity. Such points were concluded with an old hymn, the whole kit and kaboodle tacked on in a few short minutes at the end, the Holy Ghost weaving it into what had already been said by the others in our group. We concluded in prayer. The hour was over….or was it? The three girls there asked our women to step into their unit; and then one of the boys raised his hand for us to enter into petition on his behalf. Then another, and another. For at least half an hour, tears flowed and the Spirit ministered. Ten years we’ve been doing this, but this was the closest we’ve come to encountering “Pentecost”. I am still rejoicing……

Saturday, December 8, 2012


While the temperature here in northern Kentucky has not dipped deeply enough thus far to require anything more than an occasional early morning warm-up from my furnace, rain has held us in its grip nearly every day this past week. My sinuses have had my mind “circling the runway”, thus far dissatisfied with all previous attempts to put something down on paper. Indeed, the scenario seems to me descriptive of the very word that continues to occupy my thoughts. Faith is a particular tenet of the Gospel that this old man has long considered greatly distorted by the Church. For whatever reason, I asked my Catholic friend, at school Monday, why he was so assured of his salvation; and, without blinking, he responded with nothing more than that one word. When our Wednesday Bible study got into a discussion concerning its definition, the teacher suggested such claim to be only as good as that into which it is invested. My own reasoning, however, declared even that truth leaving us flexible, each to their own theology, the infallible Book, filtered through men, becoming a mixed bag of opinions. People, after all, are just people. On my way home from school Tuesday, a sticker on the rear window of an SUV caught my attention: “God bless our soldiers,” it read, “especially our snipers!” Bill O’Reilly last night, arguing with an atheist, declared quite boldly that Christianity was not a religion, merely a philosophy followed by various denominations. Celebrity preachers are in abundance, each with their own following, their own version of “claiming the kingdom”. For me, “faith” has been a resurrected Reality who goes with me through the fog, His “hook in my belly” an anchor-line that secures me in my journey, my connection my correction, my one thing stable in a world where everything else seldom makes sense. In Him, I trust……

Thursday, December 6, 2012


My old Toyota Corolla was growling like a bear on my drive home from school yesterday afternoon. Beth was supposed to follow me to a scheduled appointment with a mechanic, my gut telling me that the exhaust pipe had somehow lost its connection with the engine. About two miles from the house, however, the sound of metal now scraping the pavement removed all doubt. I motored the remaining distance at a slow pace and, for a few minutes, considered crawling under it in the rain to somehow secure it before going any farther; but, at my age, somehow the cost of having it towed seemed to make much more sense. Life, after all, when you think about it, is just a continual series of events. Some good. Some bad. There doesn’t appear to be any particular reason for what comes to whom or any way to know just when it will come. I read a little poem in Reader’s Digest once that suggested “The rain falls on both the just and the unjust fella, but mostly on the just because the unjust has stole his umbrella”. That may well be true. It seems to me, though, that the difference is an inner support system possessed by a believer, a well within that doesn’t necessarily eliminate all the unpleasant parts of the journey, but does provide an oasis of refreshing, an unending supply of what one needs to face the day. One of the best verses in the Bible, as one person in my church used to opine is “and it came to pass”…….

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Chance and Circumstance....."

We drove to the Detention Center Sunday morning through a rather heavy off-and-on-again rain, the two women who usually go with us having opted out on this occasion. There were five of us, nonetheless, the young Catholic teacher in charge of my Special-Ed unit having accepted weeks ago my invitation to join us. Years ago, a friend of mine, who now pastors that particular inner city church to which I had attached myself for a few years, suggested to a Bible class that it was impossible for two believers with different doctrinal opinions to witness Christ unto others and my immediate response to him was: “Give him to me!” Kevin now not only proved my point, but connected well with the kids in sharing his testimony. In truth, it was a good group, all of them “with” us from beginning to end. The boys, though, tears in their eyes giving obvious notice of our words hitting home, yet remained silent at the end, preferring to keep any commitment made to God a personal matter. It was the two girls who stopped us as we were leaving, the one asking Bob about where he lived. He had mentioned, in sharing, the fact that his home had recently been burglarized twice; she, as it turned out, was familiar with the area; and the conversation then led to a request for prayer. Indeed, it was one of those moments we wish would happen more often. The young women began weeping, to the point that even the female guard would later comment on feeling His presence in our midst. Tony, however, the last guy out of the room, spoke to Bob of hearing that one crying out as we were leaving, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” and we all are really wondering if perhaps she wasn’t one of those who had broke into his house. According to police and a few others likewise invaded, the perpetrators were a man and a female minor. It makes no difference, of course, other than stirring our curiosity for next week’s visit. You never know.…..

Saturday, December 1, 2012


It took me several years before finally surrendering to other’s reviews of “The Shack” and then discovering another “Joan of Arcadia” approach to the Godhead didn’t really offend me all that much. My theology is Biblically grounded, yet flexible enough to at least consider truth is bigger than what I hold in my head, that statement, indeed, what is on my mind this Saturday morning. “Crossroads” is the latest work out there by the above author. It caught my eye while shopping in Sam’s the other day and the storyline, thus far, has me amused as well as deep in thought. In this one, the spirit of a man in a coma is somehow transposed by the Creator, allowing him to “exist” within other people, not in the sense of actually becoming that particular person, but in a sort of being able to see through their eyes and, at the same time, maintain communication with them. Crazy, I know; yet it speaks to me of what we, as believers, do claim to possess in Christ: God’s Holy Ghost alive within us, in our “belly”, however, not in our head. Indeed, it is this gift, given us through Calvary and the Resurrection, that is, for me, anyhow, the crux of the Gospel. Exactly what that equates to across the doctrinal spectrum of the Church as a whole varies, no doubt; but, for this old man, the “anointing” which comes to me in prayer, in worship, and in witnessing has an identity. It is the Third “Person” of the Trinity. While there has been, two or three times in the last forty years, an audible voice and, on occasion, that still, small, inner utterance usually given question as to its source, mostly what we share is a relationship governed by both my thirst for and my willingness to allow a “fusion” between us. Deep calleth unto deep on either end of the spectrum. That doesn’t make me holy, nor does it mark me as anyone special. It just comes with the Covenant……

Friday, November 30, 2012


Knowing that our scheduled journey through the Bible yet had most of those there yet in the Old Testament, I had intended to wait for others to initiate discussion; but, when the teacher opened the class with an announcement that the lesson would be focused on “hope”, plans changed. The Book was lying on the table right in front of me, its pages turned to Hebrews, and a verse in Chapter six seemingly pulsated, begging me to offer it for a springboard. After declaring God to have confirmed His oath by “two immutable things”, the author speaks of such term as chosen us for discussion as an “anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast; and which entereth into that within the veil”. If one thinks about it, hope holds no assurance of the future fulfilling its wish, even though the Word does speak of faith being “the essence” of its existence; yet, through a “born-again” experience, we have become, in a sense, “impregnated” or reconnected to the Creator via the Holy Ghost, the “hope of Glory”. As believers, we possess no guarantees whereby, out of our own thinking, we might dictate the mind of God; but we do have an invitation to become one with He who now abides within us, an option to step beyond our own understanding and rest in the knowledge of all our worries being put into His hands. Therein are we secured. Therein are we led. Therein can we know peace in a world where, all around us, chaos abounds. Christianity was crucified and laid in a tomb; but resurrection brought forth life. The details of “truth” may well need to be sorted out in our heads. The reality of “Truth”, however, lives in us a bit farther down, in the depths of our own identity. There I must go, again and again, with the mystery of all that I am……

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Driving to school yesterday morning, I found myself entertaining those kinds of thoughts that seem to come to us all at one time or another. It was but the second day back after a five day break celebrating Thanksgiving and yet my brain was already mentally calculating how long it was before we’re off for Christmas. There was no real reason for my query. I had just finished a book by Kathleen Norris over the weekend, one entitled “Acedia and Me”. It might well have been the consumption of her words that provoked my thinking, “acedia”, according to her, the equivalent of ennui, boredom, a quagmire leading to depression. She believes it simply part of the human equation. We are creatures easily possessed by a sense of having “fallen into a rut”, especially when a schedule owns us or, for that matter, when we find ourselves, as well, sitting idle with nothing to do for any length of time. Go figure. What’s important, however, isn’t so much the condition, but the consideration given unto it. When melody morphs into monotony and life loses all sense of our going somewhere, all one really needs is “focus”. A job is just a job. What makes mine fun is the kids. Wednesday evening Bible classes are a weekly banquet, not just a matter of sharing Biblical perspectives with others, but fellowship wherein “Christ in me” becomes “Christ in us”. Ministry at both the mission and the Center is more about giving than receiving, but I do admit to such outreach ministering to me as well. Grandkids and family are the “icing on the cake”. God has been good to me. THIS day, THIS moment, THIS present set of circumstances, alive in Him, keep me as I go. Whooops….time to warm up the car and do it all again.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"It Is What It Is..............."

Three of my grandsons, the oldest now twenty, went shopping around midnight Thursday evening, returning about four in the morning with fifteen dollar sweat-suits plus a few other bargains, and vowing to do it again next year. Continual texting back and forth with my daughter kept worry to a minimum. To each their own. There was never a discount, though, no matter how big, that could tempt my wife to go forth into such madness… I listened to my pastor this morning liken being baptized into Christ to its original meaning of cloth being immersed into dye until it took on the identity (color) of the liquid. It was a good message, but one, in my opinion, that failed to say it “as it is”. Thomas Merton once said that “To say ‘God is love’ is like saying ‘Eat Wheaties’. There is no difference except that people know they’re supposed to look pious when God is mentioned, but not when cereal is”. In other words: preach something long enough and believers will repeat it without any real understanding of what it means. In truth, there is never a point, at least on this side of heaven, where any of us ever permanently take on all that He is. What we do possess via a born-again experience is an actual connection with His reality and the possibility of becoming one with Him temporarily, in worship or in prayer. We can also know Him partially in an anointing, a place in ministry where He comes forth to speak through us, sing through us, or simply witness through us unto whomsoever. The union is temporal, however, and men remain men afterwards, in our individuality, in our humanity such as it is. Some of us even find it fun wrestling with others over a forty percent discount while the rest of the world is sleeping. Go figure……

Friday, November 23, 2012


It’s eight-thirty in the morning, the day after. There’s a light rain falling outside, with the temperature expected to drop back into winter by tomorrow. Beth and the granddaughter are sleeping late, McKenna coming to stay overnight with us when we returned home from the family gathering. I’ve been up for a little over an hour, finishing my commitment to once again read the Book cover to cover. Seventy-nine days a good pace, Revelation leaving my mind in a spin. No doubt there are those out there making a profit with eschatology, solving the mystery as it happens. Old-time holiness preachers didn’t have the celebrity status that the media affords today. There were those few, though, with charts large enough to stretch across the sanctuary, the subject illustrated with pictures and punctuated with chapter and verse. What’s more: it’s not surprising to me that forty years later so much of their message is coming to pass. I find, at the same time, however, that my own attempts to understand and explain all the personalities and events brought forth by John in this final piece of the Bible yet leave me baffled for the most part. It is not and never has been “knowledge of all things” that has secured my faith. In fact, what Scripture teaches me is that which my experience along the way has confirmed: the journey is and always will be “through the veil”. Truth is in front of me, but “in” me as well, an anchor-line providing me with balance, the next step mine to take. The Holy Ghost is my teacher, His anointing not mine to command and more than this old man deserves. I trust in my “belly”, not my head…..

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Thanksgiving morning here and I find myself most thankful for an inner connection with Him, a knot inside that keeps me as I go, an anchor-line that adjusts me in my walk, a well where “deep calls unto deep” and meets me in my need. Christ “in” me has never been some transformation wherein my humanity disappeared and suddenly all things were new in any way other than that connection lost in the Garden being restored. After my confession yesterday about being glad to finish this commitment to reading the Bible from cover to cover, the rush somehow limiting me in any real study of its text, Hebrews just kind of “jumped off the page” at me today, Beth still in bed and me up at an early hour, the house quiet, the electric heater beside my recliner taking the chill off the room. It’s nothing more than what I’ve long believed. Nonetheless, in reading again how, while the law could not make anyone “perfect”, the “bringing in of a better hope” did, the whole promise, as I see it, anyway, was once again made clear to me. The “word of the oath”, the new covenant wherein God declares He will put His statutes into our mind and write them in our heart was never meant to be fulfilled merely by our consumption of chapter and verse, but by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us as a witness of it being so. It is He who confirms grace. It is He who works within us, a teacher, a healer, a compassionate shepherd who shapes us as we go, the third PERSON of the Trinity; and to find Him anything less, in my opinion, is to entirely miss what salvation is all about…..

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Still Waters.........................."

Besides working with the kids, one of the reasons that I love working in public education is the fact of the breaks it affords me along the way. We only went to school Monday and Tuesday this week, turning Thanksgiving into a five day mini-vacation. For me, anyhow. Beth is already up to her ears in preparing for tomorrow’s feast. Our normally scheduled Wednesday evening visit to the rescue mission, though, has been canceled because they will be celebrating the holiday a little early tonight, any disappointment on my part transferred into gratitude for not having to miss this next Bible study class. I’m way ahead of the date set for us to finish the entire Book, already into Hebrews and only five more assigned units to conquer. Truthfully, it will feel good to have it all done, not so much in the sense of accomplishing anything, but in being able to return to my usual practice of “probing it with the Holy Ghost”. Running a foot race from cover to cover leaves no time to have a conversation about its contents, the Spirit taking that which catches your intellect and pulling it down to where “deep calleth unto deep”. I don’t regret these past couple of months of consuming the Word in its entirety, it being a long time since some of it has even been on my plate; but my inner man is in need now of a “breather”. The Detention Center is scheduled for a week from this Sunday. I’m ready to just relax and allow Him to lead me where He may……

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The Isaacs, a bluegrass gospel group from our area and rather well known in such genre, was given most of our evening service Sunday evening. Other than the drummer, it’s a family affair, visiting us since the three were young children. Somewhere along the way the father left. Mom and the kids continued. The music lost that Bill Monroe “twang” and, for awhile, in the teenage years, got loud enough to reach the church down the road; but on this occasion, at least, what filled our sanctuary was a beautiful, more contemporary sound of banjo, mandolin, and bass that in no way offended the ears of this old man. There was a mixture of hymns along with some songs that they have written. The one I’m sharing here brought an anointing over all there, prompting a request for an encore. While the Bible message, in many ways, has been denominationally divided, believers separating themselves over chapter and verse concerning one viewpoint over another, in our humanity we are one; and when you “hit” us where we live, it doesn’t matter what name is over the door. Our altar, after but a few words from the pastor in closing, filled quickly. The Holy Ghost has a way of doing that……

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Holiday Gratitude...................."

Saturday evening Beth and I went to an early dinner put together for the church “family”, probably less than a hundred people opting for the fellowship, the first time we have so mingled at something like this since returning. There’s a local business nearby where she orders pies each year for all those who gather at my oldest daughter’s home, so we had simply picked one up a little earlier for our contribution to the spread, a lemon meringue in a box with the lid taped open so as not to disturb its look. I turned onto the expressway ramp with it resting on the back seat of the car and was about to merge into traffic, however, when a large SUV suddenly cut directly across our path, leaving paved road to traverse nothing more than a grassy section between him and the exit he had missed. I braked. The pie hit the floor, the container retaining its contents, but nothing inside now resembling its former pristine state of existence and we didn’t discover the damage, of course, until we arrived back at the house. A phone call ensured another could still be purchased. A thirty minute round trip drive and ten more dollars remedied the matter. Amazingly, other than laying down on my horn when that fool made his escape in front of us, both of us stayed pretty calm about everything. Is there possibly a point where old age has you feeling like nothing is worth the effort it takes to get angry? I mean, it’s not like you can’t make me mad; but, in the long run: life happens; humanity is humanity; and what does it change if my blood pressure rises? T’is the season to be jolly. I’m still breathing and God is good. Asks the blessing and then, if you will, please pass the cranberry sauce……

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Hind Sight......................."

Chaim Potok’s is a Jewish author whose literary characters always belong to that particular ethnic group. “Old Men at Midnight” is actually three short stories written in his usual genre, each one dealing with the Holocaust in some manner and the last two specifically illustrating what the title must surely suggest: the male of the species, in approaching finality, looking back to consider his journey as navigated. Re-reading it this week has me deep in thought examining my own history, the roots of who and what I am, the significant events along the way, circumstances that shaped my identity. If, in conclusion, such evaluation finds me to be nobody “special”, no trophies sitting on my shelf, no certificates or degree framed and hanging on my wall, the past merely something traversed with a complete lack of common sense and a lot of stupidity, somehow there yet remains a hope in Him. Are there regrets? Many; but who can reach back and undo what has been done? I believe that, while it is a shame some of us seem to learn only by stumbling down the path, in the end what He is concerned with is the finished product, that part of us which returns unto He who created us in the beginning. Likewise, that leads me to believe as well: if He’s still working on me, it might behoove me to remember, regardless of how much the other fellow is giving me grief, he, also, is “under construction”……

Thursday, November 15, 2012


At least twice today someone at school mentioned Thanksgiving along with that old familiar perspective of not believing it was here already. At my age, however, such amazement long ago disappeared, the calendar somehow becoming little more than a way of staying in sync with the world around you, life merely a flow, each day taken as it comes and squeezed for as much as you can get out of it. Our Wednesday evening Bible class last night began with one woman’s dislike for Ecclesiastes. To put it bluntly, she found Solomon to be a “whiner”. That, then, sparked a discussion on wisdom and the idea of so examining our existence, our human experience thus far. The original lesson had been planned around Proverbs, and as it was introduced into our thoughts, the ninety minutes evolved into a “gathering at the oasis”, people simply sharing testimony and witness. The Holy Ghost was in our midst. When the teacher introduced some reference to Scripture’s mention of a path to be followed, however, I suggested that, while most probably see some “yellow brick road”, a spiritual course that leads one to the Pearly Gates, the actual route is a ”pursuit of Christ”, a determined stumble after that One who declared Himself to be “the Way”. Final prayer was special. Holidays are but annual events, perhaps creating memories that will stay with us through the years. Here and there, though, heaven and earth connect, His Spirit convincing us of eternity; and this, to me, gives meaning to everything else……

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


My pastor friend in Pensacola has now approached me twice about over-seeing a satellite church for him here in northern Kentucky. I’ve turned him down both times. It’s nice to know he has such confidence in me; but, at the same time, unless God tugs on my anchor-line otherwise, the Detention Center and the rescue mission have my heart. To be truthful, it is a mystery to me how the idea of community worship can be achieved when its built around a sermon delivered via a computer broadcast transferred to a large movie screen. Sunday evening, however, it occurred to me, while sitting in the balcony and watching the service evolve before me, that the whole event really wasn’t all that different. The fact that it was happening “live” and right in front of us, that there was no physical lens between the people on the stage and the congregation seated in the pews, did nothing to eliminate an invisible sheet of something or other separating those two groups. In the old days, one never knew when the Holy Ghost would move some brother toward the back of the sanctuary to arise and bring forth inspired witness; or it could well have been one of the older sisters who would start an old hymn, the words coming from somewhere deep inside her and breathing life into all there. Nowadays, it’s not so much that the Spirit doesn’t have the freedom to originate from the “spectators”, but that those people don’t seem to recognize it can be so. All eyes are on the pastor. All minds are geared on “the program”. Alice does step through the looking glass at times, of course. The anointing falls and prophecy calls forth the sick and the hurting; but, to me, when the veil of the temple was rent, it made us all priests, vessels through whom He could minister. If you think that such privilege makes anybody “special”, it might help to remember God once spoke through a donkey. The important thing is in recognizing grace when it comes to us……

Monday, November 12, 2012


In approaching the front entrance of our church last night, I joked a bit with one of the younger women. Surely she’s not more than five foot tall and was carrying a purse big enough for three people. A shoulder strap aided her in such task, but evidently it was heavy enough to yet require both hands, the bag positioned on her hip rather than under her arm. Her daughter is a teenager, so I’m fairly positive it didn’t contain those necessary articles that mothers often take with them for their infants. This wasn’t the local theater or amusement park where popcorn or a hotdog and coke costs you next week’s paycheck; so it’s doubtful that she was simply sneaking in a snack. A television set in case the sermon was boring? A tuba for one of the musicians? I jest, of course; but the scenario does give me pause to reflect on what many of us often do bring into the service, not so much physically as spiritually. Life, even “in” Christ, comes to us with its share of pain, sorrow, and things we just don’t understand. Humanity remains humanity; and the reason that we come together is to become, if only temporarily, one in Him. All hearts ought to be centered on knowing Him, resurrected and alive in our midst, the Holy Spirit saving, healing, comforting, an affirmation of what we claim to believe. If the gathering is only about ritual and fellowship, then we are missing the most important element. I’m not knocking either; but somewhere in there has to be a manifestation of He who completes us and renews us for whatever the next step brings unto us. Anything else is just religion……

Saturday, November 10, 2012


My school had an assembling yesterday afternoon, giving honor a little early to all the veterans out there. Some relatives of the kids, I suppose, representing each service and both genders, were seated to each side and in front of a movie screen, a small lectern positioned between the rows and facing the entire Elementary population filling the gymnasium bleachers. Little American flags, plainly marked with the claim of having been “made in China”, had been passed out to all grades when they filed in and were now being waved with a loud exuberant chant of “USA! USA! USA!” Mostly, all I got to hear was Lee Greenwood, along with everyone gathered there, sing of one’s love of country just before having to escort one of our Special-Ed children back to our room. My heart was already full, though, those lyrics stirring up something within, memories of my father and uncles bringing a bit of tear to my eyes… Early this morning my mind turned to those women who were also part of that “Great Generation”. Aunt Lois, through the course of those years, while involving herself in a local scout program, became an ambulance paramedic and then went on to graduate as a registered nurse, all while raising a daughter and maintaining her home. Aunt Vi was married to a trucker and learned to operate one of those semis every bit as well as any man, actually giving one poor fellow a lesson once when he had downtown traffic tied up trying to back his rig into an alleyway. She lost her one son in Korea a bit later, but never gave up her grit. My mother, with no education, managed while dad fought in Italy, her brood of three wanting for nothing; and when he died later, at the age of forty, she worked nightshift at the Post Office for three decades while raising two more with her second husband… This nation is in my blood, in the very depths of who I am; but looking around at where we are today, the corruption of politics in general, the morals of people who think “freedom” means getting something for nothing, it’s easy to ponder what others sacrificed. My faith remains my strength, giving sense to that which sometimes seems to make no sense. Tomorrow I intend to drive up to the cemetery and thank a few people……

Friday, November 9, 2012


In Wednesday evening class, the teacher took us into the Book of Psalms, ending with a final note on the Fifteenth. That particular one is said to have been written by David, has only five verses, and puts a question to God as to who is able to abide in His presence. The list of ten requirements immediately presented afterwards may well have been “inspired”, breathed into the giant killer, the “bloody man” who was also said to be the “apple” of the Almighty’s eye; but those there in our room were agreed as to the human element also being present in the forming of those words. It is one of those “Sermon on the Mount” messages, no man completely above falling into at least one of the categories along the way that barred entrance. So when I read in Matthew, this morning, where Jesus accuses the scribes and Pharisees of having omitted the “weightier matters of the law”, specifically naming them to be “judgment, mercy, and faith”, it caught my attention. He was addressing the church of His day; but religion is religion wherever one finds it. Thus the question: Are we presently just as guilty of the same rebuke? The latter is part of our doctrinal message, but has evolved into a force which believers think they, themselves, create; the middle term we embrace in so much as it comes to us, yet often demand conditions to be met before we’re will to extend it unto others; and yet that first one finds us usually quick to pronounce “them” guilty and the reason why this world is in such sad shape. Surely judgment, though, “must begin at the house of God” and, if we are to examine the beam in our own eye before expounding on the mote in theirs, then I’m of the opinion that the omission referred to by Christ speaks of looking in the mirror. In seeing ourselves, we will find Him enabling us to see others as He does. Then, in experiencing that process, we are grounded even stronger in His reality within us and faith finds anchorage. Men are not redeemed through some self-formed transformation into holiness; but are saved via an internal connection bought for us at Calvary. If David came too soon to possess such Holy Ghost “hook-up”, it would seem he nonetheless knew “deep calleth unto deep” and often somehow went to that inner oasis……

Thursday, November 8, 2012


As expected, there was a lot of initial discussion about the election before Bible class even started last night. While much of it dealt with concerns about this nation’s future, it amused me that some were perplexed how so many Americans could ignore basic moral values with their vote. In truth, it perplexes me that so many within the church believe the world should simply accept their doctrinal view of the Book. We convince nobody by swinging a sword. I point you to Christ, Himself, and suggest that His admonition that night in Gethsemane can be applied just as much to a Bible thumper as anybody else. Likewise, I’m prone to believe the Body has been led into left field concerning prayer, a lot of people in my bunch whining that Romney lost because the ecclesiastical community didn’t bombard heaven enough with our political petitions. Our teacher spoke of a television interview, however, with an older woman in Florida who was rejoicing about the Almighty having answered her earnest cries for Obama’s reinstatement; and he left me wondering if it was all a matter of the Methodists outnumbering the Pentecostals, one side cancelling the other out until God went with those two extra senior citizens at the last minute. No; if Christianity has become a minority in this country, it is because we, ourselves, have failed to be the leavening agent, complacent with our own sense of righteousness, thinking our proclamation of “truth” as we have interpreted it to be somehow equates to the Holy Ghost “in” me. A claim of resurrection means nothing until the Reality of such faith reveals Himself in the situation. Somewhere along the way we have lost our kids, the neighbor next door, and America as a whole. Judgment begins at the door of His tabernacle……

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"From Where I Sit......."

There is an empty feeling in my stomach this morning. No fear; Christ remains the Rock to which I am anchored. It is obvious, though, that more than half this country holds little or no moral values; and I ask myself if that's because we have failed to legislate our faith unto others, or because we have failed to live it. My prayers were not to put any certain man into office, but for America to know revival, for the Church at large to awake in Him. He has always held, not only our future, but each and every day in His hands. In Him I rest... Forty years ago, preachers within old-time holiness were interpreting Biblical prophecy to reveal exactly what is taking place in the world around me today. They spoke of a global community desperately needing solutions to their very existence, financial disaster effecting drastic change in many areas. Christianity, not so much as a true body of believers, but the ecclesiastical institution, itself, would become wrapped up in its own righteousness and operate blind to its own arrogance. The answer, to me, is not standing on some street corner waving my “sword” and yelling “Repent!” Rather, more than ever, we need to look inside and know the voice of God for ourselves. A very dear friend of mine once delivered a sermon entitled “Will the real Holy Ghost please stand up!” In such time of chaos and confusion, in such a day when “the violent take it by force”, this old man often questions his own sanity, his own stumble down the path in the midst of it all. What I have found to be true is His inner grip on my very identity, a “hook in my belly” as I go......

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Hanging Chads....................."

Beth and I cast our ballots early this morning after dropping the granddaughter off at the church school. We did so out of “love for our country” rather than “revenge”, although I do admit both of us hold some pretty strong feelings about the incumbent. Here in Kentucky, a driver’s license is required to prove your identity. Neither of us considered it a big deal. Nevada is currently being charged in a law suit over their allowing illegals to register, the plaintiffs going so far as to declare Harry Reid would not have been re-elected in 2010 otherwise. Our assigned location was not crowded at all this morning, no electronic machines mysteriously changing Romney votes to Obama, merely a single sheet of paper with small blank boxes to be penciled in before feeding it into some sort of machine that resembled a shredder. Surely not; but I did mentally question that possibility. As a matter of fact, after leaving, it crossed my mind as to why, with all the computer genius that’s out there, this nation doesn’t possess a system capable of verifying each and every one of us. Could it be that politics at large just doesn’t want it “clean”? I wish we all were more like the population of this small town in New Hampshire. While we were waiting this afternoon to pick up the granddaughter, Beth somehow caught a broadcast on her smart phone telling about ten people in some rural burg up there who all showed up to vote at the same time, each dropping their complete form into a box before immediately taking them back out for a count. There are two who are Democrats, three Republicans, the rest listed as Independents. This occasion was a first, the results revealing a tie. Amazingly, after a bit of laughter and handshakes, they all went home, still good neighbors, willing to trust God for whatever the future holds…..

Monday, November 5, 2012

"Ground Zero............."

Yesterday afternoon I watched a short video clip recently given me, one created a few years ago for a Pastor Appreciation dinner, one wherein a few of the older members were reflecting on life as it was within the body as we made the transition from the former sanctuary to this present one. It brought a bit of tear to my eye, these folk all dear to my heart and the journey one I shared. To be truthful, they yet spoke of being thrilled with the current state of things, a position that this old man no longer holds. While the sanctuary yet remains a place where the Holy Spirit is able to fill my heart at times to over-flowing, when the whole service can simply be stopped somewhere in the middle for our shepherd to record a separate portion for those receiving our broadcast, surely there’s room for a question or two about our location… In my walk with Thomas Merton a few days ago, he pointed to that Garden of Eden event in Genesis, specifically to the interrogative the Creator brought forth just after the fall. “Adam,” He asked; “Where art thou?”, knowing full well that the object of His inquiry was hiding behind a bush. The author’s reasoning about the matter was a suggestion that we all might consider making a personal GPS investigation frequently, just in case we, ourselves, are likewise probed by Him. I agree, fully aware that acknowledging my longevity doesn’t equate to inspecting it for “continental drift”. With humanity being humanity, though, the ecclesiastical community at large, in my opinion, could benefit as well from regular check-ups. Just because His grace still abides, it doesn’t mean the ship hasn’t navigated off course……

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I awoke early this morning, as usual, the television and my cell-phone current with the community around me, but every other appliance in the house yet operating by yesterday’s time schedule. Some speak of this occurrence in terms of having “gained” an hour, but, if that is so, somehow the mirth escapes me, my mind always remembering it just has to be “paid back” just a few months down the road. There is purpose to the whole affair, I suppose, a few more minutes of light restructured into that portion of our day where we most need it. Something in me, though, never adapts, or, at least, not immediately, my body, seemingly, with its own inner clock and needing to slowly adjust to the new alignment. More than a demand for a mental recalculation of my existence, this goes deeper. A root of who I am requires a bit of space before being able to once again feel comfortable in the soil of this unfamiliar ground… Is there such a spot within all of us, a Genesis Garden of Eden where can be found the original naked seed of our identity, that part of us trapped somehow in the web this world weaves around us and yet aware that life has to be more than what we possess? I think there is; and I’m inclined to believe it the one place where, when we realize He has been standing there knocking at the door all the while, we can connect not only with Him but with each other. It matters not our history, our ethnicity, nor our gender. Life is lot more confusing than trying to remember if it’s “spring forward and fall back” or the other way around. Christ promised, however, that “out of a man’s belly” could flow that which was able to strengthen us for the journey. In Him can be found a rock to anchor us in whatever the storm throws at us……

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Heresy: Part II..............................."

”If you forget the words to your own song, you can always claim artistic license. Forget the words to the National Anthem and you’re screwed.”…Kyle Lovett

Once again Saturday morning finds me just returned home from a visit to my local Ford dealership, this time performed at their request rather than a normal need for an oil change. While waiting there, I chanced upon the above quote and, with my mind yet traversing the subject of “deifying Scripture, somehow the singer’s statement registered with me. This old man is very much a “mental ruminant”, always chewing on some “regurgitated” thinking not yet quite digested; and what holds my attention, at the moment, is wondering why we are so scared to simply “give the Bible back to God”, in terms of Him defining it for us instead of the other way around. Immediately, of course, most will tell me that we already do so by confessing it to be “inspired”. What exactly does that last expression mean to us, however? Is it no more than the Almighty once “breathing” His voice into certain prophets and a handful of disciples, that which was spoken sanctified and set in concrete? Is it, in reality, yet alive, Deity in communication with us, utilizing Biblical text as a directional “rod and staff”, leading us step by step in our journey? Thomas Merton, in his book “Springs of Contemplation”, defines it as “a judgment on a deep level somewhere down in the ground of our body”, assigning it to the Holy Ghost and adding “it gives us the conviction that, when we follow such leading, we are on the right track”. I agree, my only hesitation being his failure, like so many others, to give the Spirit His own identity as the Third “Person” of the Trinity. One way or another in this, it seems, we find it much easier to keep Christ in a box, our faith, indeed our salvation, a matter of our own doctrinal interpretation……

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Literal Heresy............."

In reading the Old Testament, some tend to see a different God, one seemingly void of grace when it comes to humanity as a whole. The Jews fared well if, as a nation they toed the line, and a few chosen individuals getting blessed regardless of their character, their relationship with the Almighty more a matter of His patience with them than of their righteousness in an attempt to follow Him. This was an age where kings required only good weather to exercise population control, wiping out entire communities, the victor claiming the spoils; and such practice apparently not only okay with the Creator, but, at times, so ordered by Him. It was a different time, a different world, and surely we, as believers, need to consider such things It was, and always has been, the same “I am”. He who brought forth Christ through Mary via the Holy Ghost is that very One who in the beginning spared Noah, appointed Abraham, and spoke through Samuel, His nature changing not anywhere within the journey. Can it be said, then, that perhaps these sacred verses recorded within the first half of the Book came to us as much from men as they did from on high? Do I dare suggest that even so the second half was put to print, inspiration “tainted” by the very channel through which it flowed? For me, the Bible is special, not because it, in itself, possesses some hallowed state, but because it is “the sword of the Spirit”. The “Word” sits at the right hand of the Father, working in us via the Third Person of the Trinity. One way that occurs is through our perusal of Scripture. We must be careful, however, to never think ourselves as having solved the mystery therein, its promises ours to claim merely because we equate it with having faith. He, alone, remains the Authority, the Kingdom, and the Giver of Life…...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Pre-school hours here. Beth is still in bed and today’s lunch just needs to be transferred from the refrigerator to the little green thermal container that always goes with me. I watched a few minutes of television reporting on the devastation created thus far by this monster storm attacking the East Coast, one entire community in New York destroyed by a huge fire somehow started in the middle of all else. Facebook is full of pictures showing flooding and gigantic waves hitting the shoreline. If it wasn’t photo-shopped, one actually was taken of a fairly large shark swimming in the front yard of a New Jersey home. Sitting here in northern Kentucky experiencing discomfort only from a bit of lower temperatures, one holds shock and sympathy for those catching the brunt of all that fury, realizing that help is a material commodity, words accomplishing nothing unless they flow from the heart. That’s true, as far as I’m concerned, no matter the outreach, no matter the ministry. Indeed, I ask myself why it is that so many within the Christian community, when a brother or a sister is going through a battle, show up like that bunch who came to Job, utilizing some verse of Scripture as if it were a rebuke. A young friend of mine currently struggling and asking questions about many things, in posting his confusion on Facebook, almost immediately got lambasted for his lack of faith, Matthew 17:20 solving all things; and, while I realize the offender was probably not operating out of an intent to wound, yet it seems to me the church ought to teach its members better. Doctrinal dysfunction kills. The Holy Ghost heals and restores……

Monday, October 29, 2012


My niece came to the early morning service yesterday, enjoying it enough to note she would be back next week. I sat there thinking through most of it that, other than the sermon being perhaps a little more emotionally charged, the hour “program” was about the same as the one she left to visit with us. Last night I returned only to hear my grandson sing with his classmates before the congregation, no interest otherwise, knowing beforehand that Ken Hamm was the guest speaker. Entrepreneur of the Creation Museum just a few miles west of here, he’s now accepting donations to help build an amusement park just south of us, one centered around a replication of Noah’s Ark. Seems to me Jim Bakker tried something similar not all that long ago; but, then, this old man often wonders if the years haven’t turned him into that bull frog of whom the pastor speaks every so often. One of Richard Rohr’s statements highlighted by me in “Everything Belongs” suggests that “God comes to us disguised as life”. That speaks to me, especially when he adds “Your life is not about you. It is a part of a much larger stream.” He defines that latter as the Creator and notes that faith has “no need to push the river” because it “trusts the flow”, there being an inner assurance of its divine identity. For me, it is our reconnection to such waters that define our having a “life” rather than merely knowing an existence; and, at the same time, I find it to be quite evident that our having gained the well doesn’t equate to us swimming in its depths on a 24/7 basis. Facing each day with what it brings to us is still "part of the package”. People remain people. Church is yet church. In truth, a better definition for “sanctified”, instead of our being “set apart”, might well be “submerged”, since regular immersions in Him are required if we are to have any hope at all of “sorting out the flesh”. It all start with the guy in the mirror……

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Without trying to sound in the least big “Halloweenish”, the old-time holiness saints were probably turning over in their graves Saturday evening. With the gym occupying one of those huge inflated slides where kids climb the one side before rapidly descending down the other, hot soup and sandwiches being sold from the small cafeteria located there, and gospel music loud enough to be heard a half-mile in any direction permeating the whole area, about forty families were positioned in the rear parking lot for “trunk or treating”. Indeed, it might have been the only place on the property where there was yet any room for an automobile! I’m inclined to think that as many people, or maybe even more, showed up for this event as for any worship service we’ve ever held. The costumes this year seemed less “gruesome” for whatever reason. My own visit was short-lived, purposed to get two or three pictures of the youngest grandchildren; but there was nobody running around with a meat-cleaver stuck in his head, no ghoulish masks of any kind, not even a witch that this old man noticed. Captain Hook and a pirate or two, a few princesses, some assorted television cartoon characters, and a rather large Buzz Lightyear. I’m pretty sure, though, that his wife talked him into that portrayal. In truth, the event was nothing more than a different form of fellowship, folks gathering with other folks in giving the little ones a safe environment for such fun and, at the same time, providing opportunity for others in the community to get to know us. Is it “evangelizing”? Not in the sense of sharing Christ in a doctrinal message; but most certainly another way to allow Christ “in” me to come forth. In fact, sometimes coming out of the sanctuary and abandoning the pew is the best way to see what we look like withOUT the “costume”, who we are “behind the mask”. Ouch! That might have just hit me......

Friday, October 26, 2012

"I Loooove Deeese Job!............"

Wednesday afternoon I walked to my car with both hands scratched and bloody, having just walked one of our female students to her bus. No emotions involved on her part. She simply doesn’t like me or anyone else holding her in any manner as we go, even though she will not make the journey on her own. Thursday morning a pair of leather gloves in my hip pocket went in with me to cure that problem; but my day started with two of our boys, the three of us seated in a small room, me trying to feed them their daily dose of Math. One would taunt the other and then the second fellow would scream. The first guy would begin to blubber and boohoo; the anger across the table only increased. We accomplished very little. Why would a seventy-one year old man want this job when he could be sleeping late, golfing with his friends, or free to simply go wherever whenever he and his wife took a notion to getaway? I could tell you it keeps me young. Every day, however, my body serves notice that such is not the case. My spirit, while hopefully having gained a little wisdom along the way, is an eternal entity and not affected otherwise by the aging process, my soul therefore probably what motivates the old man. It just enjoys working with these kids. With some, there isn’t always an immediate connection; but you “bond” as you go. If my health holds out and they’ll have me back, I think I’d like to try at least one more cycle. We’ll see. It is, after all, all in His hands……

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


When I first stepped into “old-time holiness”, our congregation at most services was probably a little less than a couple hundred people. We followed no particular program, opening up with worship and singing until whatever time it became apparent that the Spirit thought it right to move elsewhere; and, in truth, that might take thirty minutes or be as long as three hours. Sermons were brought forth only as He directed and, while usually delivered by the pastor, testimonies were frequent, the “anointing” perhaps falling just as well on someone seated in the pews. We believed in the Holy Ghost owning the sanctuary and gave freedom for Him to move as He wished. If humanity got into the proceedings, people knew the difference and, one way or another, things seemed to take care of themselves. The altar was always open, the final invitation serious, but not necessarily the climax of any gathering. Announcements were few; we received an offering, of course; and somewhere in the mixture almost certainly we would take prayer requests. An appointed individual would step behind the pulpit to ask for any concerns to be made known. While it was serious business, some elements of the task could almost be humorous, one woman, in particular, that I recall, usually taking so long to vividly describe details that, by the time she finished you weren’t sure if it was her sister, her cousin, or her aunt who was either suffering with some medical condition or just having problems with her husband! Even so, we loved her; and nothing was dismissed when, as a body, not just a person, we took all unto Christ. I don’t recall a lot of “name it and claim it”. I don’t remember needing some celebrity with the “gift of healing”. We just believed in reaching through the veil and touching the hem of His garment, each in our own personal space, all of us knowing that Calvary had bought us a “connection”, not “authority” to raise the dead by our own volition…….

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho...................".

Richard Rohr, in “Everything Belongs”, speaks of religion, as a whole, having “lost sight” of Jesus’ message and, in the process, “not creating seekers or searchers, humble people who trust that God is always beyond them, but people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy, glib answers”. I agree, especially when he goes on to assert that the “great Mystery will lead us into paradox, into darkness, and into journeys that never cease”, suggesting as well that this is what prayer is all about. In mentally tossing it all around on my way to school Monday morning, though, I stumbled over a Pentecostal “truism”. Indeed, how many sermons have been preached to me referencing the idea that we, as believers, are “in the world, but not of the world”? Turns out, in writing this, that there IS no such verse in the Bible, King James or otherwise, a couple that ring close, but nothing exactly the same. Maybe that’s why this old man felt no guilt when, in having it pass through my mind, what immediately followed was an admission of my being “in the Church, but not of the Church”, as well. If that evokes disdain from some, so be it; but I find the ecclesiastical community, as a whole, a mixed bag of theology, innocent perhaps in its individual stumbles down the road, guilty, however, of its humanity being yet very much alive in the attempt, its biggest sin being an unwillingness to acknowledge that last statement. Sit me in the mess, for sure, but mark me just another pilgrim with a hunger to hear His voice and a spirit trying my best to follow Him through the veil. Leave me out of the nonsense. I want no more than His grace, His rod and staff. It was reality that I came up off the floor with forty years ago in my living room, an assurance bigger than any understanding I had of the event, a “hook in my belly” that yet holds me secure. He, alone, will I follow……

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Mirrored Images....................."

It’s yet warm enough that we have thus far not utilized the furnace at all, three electric heaters proving sufficient for our needs. Overnight, however, while a quilt and body heat, alone, prevents feeling the overall chill (we don’t run the heaters while we sleep), even though she sleeps straight through, normally I’m up around six and headed for the living-room recliner, ready to once again bring the temperature up a bit. On Saturday mornings, with no reason to prepare for another day at school, sitting there beside the imaginary flames equates to reading, praying, and, often, nodding off for a half hour or so. Today was no exception, the overall scenario involving my thoughts being out there somewhere, exploring how the Old Testament comes across to this old man. While we are certainly given numerous characters who frequently experience the reality of God, yet most of the Israelites, throughout Scripture, are content to “worship from afar”, allowing the Levites to burn the sacrifice, preferring the occasional prophet to make the connection, coming into the presence of the Almighty being a scary proposition. Then again, if we are but willing to admit it, it seems to me that much of the Church is no different today. Most of us are comfortable with “religion”, with ritual and routine, with “faith” as we have manufactured it for ourselves. I offer that as descriptive of Christianity as a whole, of crystal cathedrals, of football stadiums filled with “believers”, and of much that passes today for Pentecostal Full Gospel. No; I do not claim, as Elijah, to be the one and only who has it all figured out, my track record in this, if diagrammed, looking like an intoxicated sot trying walk a straight path. What I am saying is: we NEED revival. Not three more meetings where some visiting pastor serves up his version of the Word after four songs, announcements and an offering. We need to know Him, not merely resurrected from the dead, but alive in “me” and in our midst! To each his own manifestation. We remain individuals. Nonetheless, if the umbilical cord is neglected and the well doesn’t receive fresh flow, the water, sooner or later, begins to stink……

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Through the Veil.........................."

Through the process of supplying our grandkids with modern technology (Christmas, birthdays, etc.), there has been a brand new Ipod lying on my living-room mantel for quite some time now that has yet to accrue one song. People look at me strangely when I mention ownership, relate its condition, and admit to having no desire for loading any music into it; but, in truth, any solitude that comes to me is usually filled with thoughts of Him. I’m either talking to Him or considering our relationship as it has come to me through the years. Who needs to be entertained as they go? Prayer, for me, is not necessarily fifteen minutes set aside somewhere, a hallowed point in time where I sneak into my private place of petition and assail heaven’s gates. That doesn’t mean, of course, that listening to a CD never occurs now and then. Some contemporary gospel tunes that Hilltop shares recently resurfaced, a desire to worship with them rising up from within, and one of the tracks deals with both the prophet Isaiah catching glimpse of the Almighty and John the Apostle turning around on the Isle of Patmos to witness Jesus in all of His resurrected glory. The lyrics have had me considering whether or not we have allowed grace to diminish the reverence He deserves, in terms of our being comfortable in communicating via long-distance and having no desire to actually step into the fullness of His presence. I’m not sure the latter requires a lot of what Pentecostals preach, a tabernacle sanctifying process wherein we attain a certain level of “holiness” before we can approach Him; nor do I believe ourselves having been "authorized" to replace the Holy Ghost, our arrogance said to be “boldness” and our foolishness labelled “faith”. It’s for sure, though, that the Bible does give witness of his having taken up residence within us and that out of our “belly” can flow “rivers of living water”. Experiencing tangible evidence of those facts, then, in the words of John the Baptist, ought to be as simple as our "decreasing” that He might “increase”. We could be driving down the road, looking up at the stars, or sitting in the third pew from the back; but, if somewhere in the moment, as our spirit hungers to know Him, connection is made, all it takes is allowing Him to come forth……

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"The Key to the Kingdom.................."

Last night’s visit to the rescue mission was one of the best we’ve known there, the room almost packed and a couple of the men sharing testimony with us after an old Gaither hymn. Dave would speak to them afterwards on “trusting the Lord”, followed by my son-in-law making his sax sing. I would have about seven minutes to tie the hour together with a final point and take them into final prayer after Tony closed; but, in truth, needed no more than that, everyone there one in spirit after hearing him share. It was no big theological message. He only used one verse of Scripture and that only in ending. It was not what he had intended to say, just something that had passed through his thoughts earlier and then dismissed. Something said in our midst, though, took him again to his father’s ninetieth birthday having just occurred; and, with a tear in his eye, he began to tell of how his dad, as a young man, felt a call of God on his life. A few years into Bible college, however, when he and a few others came to believe that the ecclesiastical community had it all wrong, they abandoned further education in favor of creating their own branch of Christianity. Down the road, of course, people being people, they found themselves with but one more tarnished copy of what they had sought to avoid and their little group eventually folded. Pop was now in his seventies and left with the knowledge of having “missed the mark”. When his son called, therefore, trying to enlist his help in the remodeling of an inner city cinema, an effort to reach the poor in downtown Cincinnati, he was reluctant at first; but an inner “anchor-line” yet held him to his Savior and his surrender to the request became a commitment that has lasted not quite two decades. At one point his wife questioned the matter, why such devotion to this at his age, especially after the journey already taken in error. Tony had tears in his eyes as he repeated his father’s answer. Pointing to his copy of the Book, Mr. Foote replies: “Somewhere in here it’s written that love covers a multitude of sins.” Closing in prayer came easy……

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Doo dooo dooo dooo................."

My one neighbor’s house sits on a hill to our left, a rock wall running almost the entire length of its front footage and a fair amount of grass-covered slope to either side of the abode. Railroad tracks are no more than a couple hundred feet from his back entrance and a small garden is maintained in such space yearly. He had just mowed the lawn the day before and whether any of that accounts for what I witnessed early this morning, I know not; but, just before leaving for school, movement caught my attention and a peek through the window in my front door reveals absolutely hundreds of black birds descending on his property. For several minutes they continued to come from above my home, filling his yard so thickly that the green of the grass nearly disappeared, their chirping quite reminiscent of that old Hitchcock movie and, for a moment, giving me pause. Starlings, I suppose. Their aerial antics have held me spellbound on other occasions, but elsewhere, not here in this neck of the woods. Maybe the brief encounter was but preparing me for the Presidential debate tonight. No; the color of the birds definitely plays no part in the comparison, nor does the smug smirk that Obama has on his face while looking you right in the eye and lying through his teeth. What bothers me is how the media and much of the public seem to embrace his vanity, his arrogance, his inability to accept criticism, and his complete lack of moral character. My trust, no matter which way this goes, remains in a Creator who holds all thing in His hands; but, admittedly, while watching all this unfold, I find myself somewhat anxious, feeling as if Biblical prophecy might well be taking place right in front of me. The Holy Ghost gives balance and assurance. One day at a time, Jim; one day at a time……

Monday, October 15, 2012


“We do not find our own center; it finds us. We do not think ourselves into new ways of living; we live ourselves into new ways of thinking; and the great and merciful surprise is that we come to God, not by doing it right, but by doing it wrong. You don’t need to push the river if you are in it!” …Richard Rohr, “Everything Belongs”

My interest in books, for whatever reason, didn’t really find substance until I came to Christ at the age of thirty. Even then it would take awhile for me to “branch out”, old-time holiness admonishing all that anything other than your Bible was taboo. In my senior year of high-school, a paperback copy of “Peyton Place” somehow came into my possession, but, halfway through the story, the fact that a woman had written such trash disgusted me and it was tossed aside. During those first few years in the Navy, Leon Uris, with novels like “Battle Cry” and “Topaz”, provided entertainment for a young sailor with little funds for anything otherwise; and “The World of Susie Wong” had me romantically attached, so much that when she stabs someone with a pair of scissors in the final chapter, in anger I threw it across the barracks and waited for the movie to discover how the story ended. Indeed, fiction, for the most part, has not been pursued since. My intake nowadays has evolved into a strange mixture of various authors, most of them dealing with Christianity, none of them this modern celebrity bunch who have the Gospel reduced to a formula, their message expounding the idea that we, ourselves, are conquerors over all things, health and prosperity ours to command. The above words speak to me, it relating to this walk as I have found it to be. If some question the one line about how we approach the Creator, my history shows a record wherein, although this old man has always attempted to “get it all together”, the results have always been a matter of His grace covering my humanity. Furthermore, I love the last thought, believing it always better practice to relax and allow the flow to come forth than to beat the water in hopes of creating your own manifestation……

Sunday, October 14, 2012


My four day weekend, what Kentucky’s public school system refers to as “Fall Break”, just happened to coincide with my seventy-first birthday. My youngest daughter celebrates her forty-first this coming Tuesday, so we all did dinner together at a local restaurant yesterday; but, other than that, it was just another tick of the clock. No big deal; and, to tell the truth, I prefer it that way. This old man does not do well with crowds, even small ones, and all the more so if, for any reason, he’s the center of attention. Conversation makes me nervous, my tongue and my brain seemingly not well connected at such times. Being asked to pray over a meal or to lead others in a petition about whatever is something to be avoided. Talking with God isn’t religious ritual to me, a few words mumbled before breaking bread, a communal “speech” covering congregational requests. It was always easy to sing, closing my eyes and forgetting everybody else was there while becoming one with Him in the lyrics; but being “appointed” to be everybody else’s voice in a matter somehow isn’t the same. Then again, bringing the men at the mission or the kids at the Center into an altar call is no problem, the moment, itself, somehow simply placed in His hands and allowed to “happen”. I believe in that. The Holy Ghost cannot be programmed, cannot be manipulated, cannot be formulated. He just “is”; and it seems to me that somewhere in this we have lost that truth. That’s not a popular opinion, of course, but to each their own. Blow out the candles. Enough said…

Friday, October 12, 2012


We would eventually focus on Gideon in the Book of Judges Wednesday evening, but initially our teacher explored our thoughts on Israel’s continual cycle of backsliding, suggesting at one point (or so it seemed to me) that the failure to “separate” themselves from the world around them was perhaps to blame. While there’s little doubt that such inter-mingling, over time, greatly affected their identity as God’s people, however, in my own opinion the real root of their problem lay more in their never having actually surrendered, in the first place, to such relationship as the Almighty extended unto them. In other words, He was that deity Moses knew, the one that Joshua appeared to have some pull with, the one that shows up every now and then when things get bad. Most saw Him merely in terms of another religion, a form of worship inherited from their ancestors. Indeed, it is a condition still among us, people being people, even today. Our “Christianity” is quite often no more than a mental theology gained from our environment, a doctrinal image we’ve created out of chapter and verse, and sometimes out of less than that. If our assurance rests on faith, it is yet to be determined upon what our faith, itself, rests. In saying all this, though, it might be well to note that it’s not like this old man doesn’t believe in the Bible; rather that he doesn’t believe in himself. Salvation, therefore, at least for me, is an anchor-line connection restored unto me via the Cross, an “umbilical tube” providing me sustenance as I go, a “hook in my belly” continually helping me to “correct my compass” in the journey……

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


For over a year now, my family has been waiting on Kentucky’s legal system to walk through its lengthy process, dealing with a church that, for whatever reason, refused to investigate its ranks for other possible incidents in such matter, and doing our best to simply find peace in our belief that God’s hands had it all in control. Yesterday the gavel came down and the offender is looking at fifteen years, however that works out with the various options attached to the ruling. We sat in the court room for nearly two hours as various individuals faced the judge for a final ruling, as it happened, our concern falling last on the list before her. Some were brought into such space via a door to one side. All of those were handcuffed and wearing prison attire. Others were seated here and there in our midst, wearing an ankle monitor, I suppose, to insure their attendance, but free otherwise. Their conviction would amount to some sort of ordered program or perhaps a loss of freedom other than being confined to a cell. Two were being sentenced for robbery, one a mother on drugs, the other a father of eight with other problems. The latter stepped up from our section, but was shown through the other exit when he departed. Most there had addictions of some sort, one an old man of seventy, a truck driver hooked on heroin and cocaine pleading for a chance to get his retirement. He was told that if she had known how much money he had in such fund, she wouldn’t have assigned him a public defender! To be truthful, I’ve probably seen far too much television drama along these lines and was expecting a different scenario. For the most part, this was “cut and dried”. Each of the guilty parties would make a plea for mercy. The lady in black would then look them straight in the eye and told it just like it was. Will it be any different when we stand before Him, I wonder, each of us with our own theory, our own version of chapter and verse. People, of course, have the right to ride whatever horse they wish in “crossing over”; but my trust is in a risen Savior, my assurance gained through a tangible witness here and there along the way. The relationship is not taken for granted; indeed, this old man gets his passport verified on a regular basis. Better safe than sorry……

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


My wife and I drove the granddaughter out to school this morning, the entire route, there and back, clothed in a misty fog. When Beth commented concerning her dislike of travelling with such loss of vision, I spoke to her of our moving through this world every day in like manner. We’ve been dealing with a personal matter this last year, one involving my grandson and a seeming complete lack of concern from many within the church. Today the judge makes a final decision that closes the matter in so far as punishment for one fellow; but we are yet left with many questions as to the way religiosity walked with us through it all. Others, for sure, face their own daily enigmas: the unexplained loss of a loved one, a traumatic medical diagnosis that doesn’t mesh with the message you’ve heard preached, and in one way or another nothing makes sense. The Bible speaks of it as being in “darkness”. Such term is one which we might well associate with “evil”, Jesus telling us in one place how men prefer it to “light” because of its ability to hide their sins; but, in truth, what it really speaks of is “ignorance”, a lack of understanding, and the only thing malevolent about it is a refusal to bring God’s presence into our void. In Psalms there is prophetic utterance referring to the Creator having “come “down” unto Christ in hell, the glory of the Almighty so great that the abysmal black was dispersed in all directions. While some may not agree, I find that same scenario playing out in the life of every believer, a “born-again” experience in no way having supplied us with all the answers and our journey yet one full of mysteries. What we have gained via the Cross is an inner reconnection, a means whereby the Spirit can rise and meet us in our confusion, in our failure to comprehend ourselves every bit as much as the situation. Surrender, though, is required of us as we go, no less now than it was when we first knelt at an altar. Salvation, it seems to me, is a work in progress, a ship under construction even as it sails through a stormy sea……

Saturday, October 6, 2012


It’s early Saturday morning here, some rain over night reportedly about to bring us down into some cooler temperatures for a few days. My job at school is seemingly turning into a repetition of last year, the economy and the numbers game causing a necessary merger of three Special-Ed units into two, no assistants added until we “prove” that we need them. Is it just coincidence, I wonder, that in visiting Robert Fulghum’s blog site, I discovered a recent post speaking of “altitude” being a matter of “attitude”? Truthfully, this fellow is about as far away from my own spiritual conclusions as anyone could be; and, if we really knew one another, it remains to be seen how well conversation between us would go. Reading his mind in print suffices for me, ardent debate not something I pursue. When he writes of “metaphorical lenses buried deep in our brains and psyche”, however, it seems to me that the two of us might enjoy a bit of discussion, his brain apparently somewhat in tune with mine about a few things. Love, prejudice, comedy, pessimism, optimism, experience, and religion are all listed as “frames of reference that bend the light of fact and truth”, shaping our vision either for ill or good and leading to clarity or distortion. “Nobody,” he says, “sees things as they are.” Nothing I haven’t heard before; but enough to give me pause and make me ponder. I am well acquainted with how people, far beyond simply separating themselves one from the other, often enter into war over “visional” differences of opinion. Politics, at the moment, has us all on an emotional high. For me, though, whether it be who occupies the White House for the next four years or what this change in our room will mean in terms of stress, it’s not so much my own outlook I want to steer by, but His. That “anchor-line” also serves as an “umbilical cord”, providing me therefore, not only with a tug on my tendency to overheat, but a peace in spite of the storm as well.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Wednesday’s gathering of the “Read the Bible in 120 Days” class opened with an invitation to share any discoveries made thus far in the journey. The teacher then steered us into some discussion about Deuteronomy, however, and informed us that it was known by some as “The Second Law”. It seemed like I had heard that before somewhere; but forty years into the journey, my brain couldn’t remember in which mental pigeonhole it now lay. Such subtitle, though, is indeed appropriate since, after Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments in Chapter Five, he fills the rest of this book with a multitude of other statutes and judgments that would eventually stretch two stone tablets into a library full of parchment scrolls for Israel to reinterpret down through the years. To be truthful, this old man finds most of it a bit of an enigma, so many rules and regulations bringing all of life into a rigid religious system wherein God’s grace is seemingly altered into a severe penal code. Admittedly, I have often wondered just how much of it came out of the patriarch’s own spirit and not necessarily ordered by the Creator. Such observation in no way ignores all those incidents wherein the Almighty, Himself, appears on the scene in one form or another and makes manifest His alliance with Moses; but when it is written in two of the gospels how Jesus declared Jewish legislation on divorcing their wife to have been “permitted” only because of the hardness of their heart, it’s easy for me to think both humanity and culture played a bigger part in the Old Testament than we want to admit. Does such reasoning do away with a finality of standing before His throne and facing Him for the life we have lived? Christ spoke much too plainly on the reality of Heaven or Hell for us to dismiss that fact. Does it somehow turn the Scripture into a bunch of fairytales, dismissing all claim of its content being “inspired”, the volume, itself, “holy”? Not for me. It was never about King James or the highway from the start, the message not a matter of rooting out the original Greek or Hebrew linguistics and His promises not a contingent based on how much “faith” one has to “name it and claim it”. Here and there within my journey, these pages have come “alive”, His Spirit within me having somehow illuminated the sacred text and ministered to me in some way; and, when that happens, if only for a few moments, the Word and I, both, are one in Him. Beyond that, however, I remain a man and that which I read is no more than inked parchment bound in a leather cover……

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The mind, to my way of thinking, anyhow, amounts to a man’s spirit working in conjunction with his brain. That emotional part of who we are as a person most certainly enters into the process; but surely a lot also depends on, not only what we’ve stuffed into our cranial cavity, but the physical condition of that organ as well. If so, turning seventy-one in ten more days could undeniably account for a lot of my jabber nowadays. Anyone who knows me, though, will attest to my having a tendency to always be deep in thought, and my thoughts often not too worthy to take seriously. With that said, then, let me now confess to what I pondered today while I was eating lunch with my charge in the cafeteria…. A young boy sitting a few tables away was wearing a blue and white t-shirt sporting the words “South Pole” across its front, probably no more than a brand name; but out of nowhere this image of the earth came to me and I mentally pondered just who it was that first determined north was north. After all, aren’t we really sitting on little more than a ball in the middle of nothing? If one floated up into an orbital position, what makes us believe that everything remains locked in a state of me, for example, travelling “up” to Toledo and “down” to Pensacola? In truth, it really could be the other way around, our orbit around the sun actually in reverse. In outer space, there is no “perspective” but that which can be gained from our relationship to something else out there! Indeed, if one can grasp all that, then let’s take it inward to a point where we all lose our ability to comprehend the enigma of who and what we are, that place where we realize something is missing and needs to be “fixed”. As much as I need outward connection in order to navigate, it is no different within the depths of my soul. He gives me direction and stability, balance as I go……