Friday, March 30, 2012


It’s early Friday morning, the last day before Spring Break, and I wish I knew of some deserted island, nothing but a hammock, my Bible, a good book, and a supply of fig newtons. Nope; Beth would never agree to that. Even with it looking like we’re finally coming down to an Obama vs Romney battle, though, it’s for sure that the vicious mud-slinging is only about to increase; and, this being yet a divided nation in many ways, civil war is upon us once again. Not that our views on how to govern ourselves is the singular part of our existence that we so passionately argue. At this very moment, the country is racially embroiled over a young man’s tragic death, not many, on either side it seems, willing to wait and allow the facts to determine the truth. Personally, I’m inclined to believe the problem has little to do with life as it comes to us as it does with “life” as it is in us; and, by that, I don’t necessarily speak of what poses for Christianity in this nation. On a television interview yesterday, another minister suggested that the reason we are in such shape is because religion has not involved itself in the political system. If that is so, then it is marked by the genuineness of such faith as those men whom we’ve elected to office claim to possess, not by the Church lobbying for our population, as a whole, to adhere to our individual beliefs. The Holy Ghost is “packaged” individually, His reins on the person, not the propaganda the person pursues. Free will is allowed; but I’ve found it much easier if I can just stay calm enough for me to discern His input on my output……

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of my “born-again” conversion to Christ, an event that truly did “save” my life in many ways. It took place in what was then my living room, but the house, itself, one that my father had originally built and that particular spot indeed the very place where I’d caught him alone one afternoon and questioned him as to whether he thought such a thing as “God” even existed. His answer left me puzzled. His death a few months later only made me angry at whomsoever or whatsoever deity that had taken him from me. Twelve years down the road, I came full circle, nothing making sense, my inability to explain myself, let alone a deity, leading me to a mental abyss and I jumped. Christ caught me…. I sat in my car for an hour last night, out in the parking lot waiting on my granddaughter to accomplish volleyball practice and reading a bit of Thomas Merton. In a chapter on “unbelief”, the author separated individuals into three classes of people without faith, two of which were professing members of the Church. As a Trappist monk, he spoke unto Catholicism; but it wasn’t all that hard for this Pentecostal veteran to identify with his words. My conversation Monday evening with that young father of three who grew up within our congregation, in fact, was centered on that very theme. After one’s confession comes the journey. One day each of us must step into eternity for himself and the difference will be whether we have created Him or He has created us. Determining that, however, is a personal matter. As for me, that same point of contact encountered four decades ago remains open unto me, providing assurance and alignment as I go. In Him I trust. All else is subject to suspicion……

Monday, March 26, 2012


The two youngest grandkids and their dog stayed with us overnight, mom and dad journeying to Winchester to be with his family while his father had surgery on his neck. That meant Beth had to arise early in order to get the “youngins” to school and me being left alone here at the house with a few minutes to myself. Indeed, it seemed like a good time to pray. Kneeling down by the loveseat in the family room, I was just beginning to cross over into “the flow” when Tubby (the mutt whom I had already tried to coax out the front door twice earlier) now began to bark as if to inform me that his need was urgent; so I arose and let him out, turned and knelt this time before the recliner there by the fireplace, and was once more about to “connect” when the sound of his pawing let me know he was ready to come back in. My third attempt was more successful; but, somewhere in the middle of it, my cell phone brought me my wife’s request to meet her at Bob’s for breakfast. End of story. Such is life….. This evening McKenna came to me with a request to drive her out to our church for play practice. Thinking that she would be there no more than about an hour, I took a book with me to read. The day had been long; my mind was yet a bit numb; and it’s easier to just occupy one’s thoughts at such times: being “spiritual” seems too hard to attempt. Not even two or three pages into my perusal, however, a young father of three came through the front entrance with his young son in his arms and, making conversation, asked what I was reading. My admission to it being a secular novel was close to an apology. He responded, though, with no condemnation and for a few moments it was like the two of us stepped into His presence as we discussed the reality of the Holy Ghost, the Gospel as it proves itself out in our walk, His grace alive and leading us as we go. It doesn’t get any better. In fact, such is “life”!......

Sunday, March 25, 2012


My twenty-year-old grandson was granted permission yesterday to drive the expressway down to the Lexington Mall, a distance of a hundred miles or so and his first “long distance journey” away from home. The sole reason for his request was to “pursue” a friendship established with a girl from Virginia, her church having attended our annual Youth Conference and her group now planning to stop and shop for a few hours before their return. If Cody, his brother, his cousin, and two other boys left here with mom and dad’s blessing, though, it is also true that their departure gave me and their grandmother some concern. The immediate area around their destination is at all times an enormous snarl of traffic, five lanes in either direction bumper to bumper out front and the parking lot itself not much better. Thank God for cell-phones and grandchildren raised to respect the hearts of their elders. Text messages kept us aware of their safety and, truthfully, the whole event took me back some fifty-two years to a trip I made with another fellow, both of us older teenagers and motoring to Paducah for much the same purpose. We took the ladies bowling when we got there, had dinner with their parents, and came back the next day. Where we stayed overnight is beyond my memory (so are the names and the faces of the girls, for that matter); but what is till fresh to me is the feeling of somehow reaching a milestone, a liberty granted me that somehow spoke of “no longer being just a kid”. Surely God’s hand was on us when we returned, me falling asleep at the wheel on old Route 25, no more than twenty minutes from the house, the driver’s window down a bit and the roar of the approaching semi so loud that it awakened me no more than a hair before impact. I’d like to believe that it was, anyhow. What I’m positive about, however, is that, whatever life brings to us, we can trust in His love, His wisdom, His concern; and what I’m thankful for is daughters who have raised their children in Him……

Saturday, March 24, 2012


It was pretty much a packed house at the rescue mission Wednesday evening, a few empty seats up front, but a crowd compared to the last few times we’ve shared. No sermon, per se, just the three of us talking with them about the Gospel as it has come to us in the journey, “life” as we have found it to be since experiencing an injection of Christ. Life… The last two days have but continued to bring to me a renewed sense of my job at school being “fun”; and yet, if the rumors prove to be true, next tear our individual Special-Ed unit will be eliminated, those few children left to us after graduation, plus a single incoming student, will simply be separated and sorted into other existing rooms, giving some answer to necessary budget cuts. With this economy, one knew it was coming, sooner or later; but right now it appears that I’ll just follow “my” boys and be working with another teacher. I won’t know any detail, however, until we walk through the doors again in August. Doors… Normally, there isn’t any way a basketball game would keep me up past eleven, but with last night being Friday and this morning being all mine, I sat up to watch my Indiana Hoosiers give Kentucky a good game. They exhausted themselves in the final moments, however, and I “gave up the ghost” about a quarter after twelve, three minutes left to play, the evidence telling me it was over. Falling asleep was no problem. Nonetheless, feeling “the call of nature” a few hours later, I arose and stumbled through the darkness, walking headfirst into the edge of the open door. It was one of those “What’s that? Ker-whop!” kind of encounters most of us have had at one time or another, me remarking on my own stupidity before sliding beneath the covers once again. About seven this morning, now in the recliner and brushing my eyebrow for some reason, I discovered a crusty area over my left eye, checked it out in the mirror, and realized I now possessed about a quarter inch vertical cut in that area… It seems to me that faith is not so much about moving mountains as it is about knowing Him in the middle of all that we do, all that we are. Spirituality isn’t defined by how well we pray, how much we go to church, or even by our ability to quote Scripture. It’s a relationship wherein two are one even when they aren’t, secured by a bond of surrender on our part, knowing His grace meets all our needs. So I believe. So I tried to witness to those men worshipping with us down at the mission……

Monday, March 19, 2012


My pastor friend in Pensacola posted on Face Book several times yesterday, stating in one place how his church had known “a powerful time in God’s presence” Sunday morning, but afterward noting that “as pastors, we pray, study, and prepare; and sometimes it still doesn’t come out like we had planned”. If his words seem to contradict one another, it is only because we all too often hold a wrong view of what it means to walk with Christ. Wednesday evening, “my” group will be visiting the men at the rescue mission again. I have no three-point message to share. My mind, at the moment, is a kettle of soup, Bible verses and my existence as it has come to me lately all mixed into a gumbo and cooking over the fire, the main ingredient no more than a question as to what Jesus actually meant when He said that He came to give us life and that more “abundantly”. To many, it would seem in this present generation, it translates to health, wealth, and a guarantee that whatsoever they speak will be granted them as heirs to the kingdom. People fail, I think, to comprehend that the promise concerns that which comes to us internally through the covenant, a restoration of that which was lost in the Garden, the Holy Ghost “in” me! One with both the Son and the Father, He is a continual source of strength, peace, wisdom, all that we might need in so far as, not only in taking the next step, but finding within it purpose, encouragement, those things that make our existence more than just sucking in air and going through the routine. Billionaire or beggar, facing terminal illness or feeling like you could whip whatever, He alone defines our completeness, our fullness. He is “life”……

Saturday, March 17, 2012


In my front yard, the magnolia tree has erupted into a beautiful display of pink blossoms. Out back, the ground is covered with broken limbs and branches. This area of northern Kentucky escaped the tornadoes that devastated points just south of us; but strong winds always mean a job waiting for me in that portion of my domain.
The temperatures are unusually high for this time of year, the rain heavy now and then. There has been no flooding yet, however, only my lawn looking like it’s just about ready for me to resuscitate my mower. I drove over to Half Price Books yesterday while Beth and the granddaughter were shopping at the mall, picking up a used copy of Merton’s “The Ascent to Truth”. The author wrote it in 1951 and within the first few paragraphs speaks of the human race “facing the greatest crisis in its history, a claim he attributed to both “moral collapse” and “unrest in five continents”. The latter was said to be due to “a fear of being destroyed” and, by that, I assume he was referring to those days when, in this country at least, men were building bomb shelters and schools were executing drills on what to do if nuclear explosion was imminent. Here we sit, though, over half a century down the road, the monster still in the closet, but the general attitude seems to be “So what? A man could just as well get hit by a bus before the day is over!” Indeed, we are so up to our ears in this mess that we, ourselves, have made, that apathy, mental insanity, and depression are all a constant angry roar in the darkness, the question being: What can one man do? For me, it can only be answered within. I can only work on me, pray for others, and follow the inner tug on my anchor line. It’s a daily exercise capable of being accomplished on the go, whether one is working outside, driving somewhere, or simply standing in the middle of chaos. He, though, must be the force; I am but the vessel…..

Friday, March 16, 2012


Wednesday evening Bible class was a second look at Romans Chapter Seven. Why? I don’t know; but it’s for sure that we will not ever completely conquer any portion of the Word. The Book was given only to give question to our heart and it is holy only because He inhabits it to speak to us as we go. In such sense about twenty of us once again explored this particular part of the puzzle on this occasion, discussing it in relationship as to how its individual message had proven to be truth in our life thus far. There was no arguing Paul’s claim that men remain men, even “in Christ”. The mystery to be probed was our being found “justified”, absolved of all sin and knowing freedom to walk with “no condemnation” in spite of whom and what our walk reveals us to be beneath this claim of being “born again”. Here, it seems, is where many of us are yet not one in our view of the matter. We do not enter into “making war” concerning our different perspectives, for surely only God can give light and take us “through the veil”; but, for me, if what we possess in the way of being pronounced “innocent” is merely our own pardon constructed out of a few verses of Scripture, then all we really have is “religion”. It may well be found valid on the Day of Judgment. He looks at our heart, not our scholarship. I want my verification now, however, and have learned this to indeed be what Jesus extends unto us through the Holy Ghost: an open invitation to step into His presence, a liberty to approach Him again and again for a daily cleansing of the soul, an encounter wherein His touch eliminates all doubt, renewing us as we go……

Monday, March 12, 2012

"As It Is............."

An old friend was waiting for me at church yesterday. Not having my phone number, he had come to the one place he knew I’d be on a Sunday evening and caught me outside the front entrance just before worship started. A co-worker of ours from the railroad had passed away, another good buddy not seen by me but once since my retirement a decade ago, a fellow who used to chastise me for putting too much salt on my lunch and then would grin when I’d point to the two packs of cigarettes that he consumed each day. We were like that with each other from the beginning. His childhood poverty endured had him always counting pennies, everything in his life geared toward making a profit, continually shifting his annually allotted sick days into his 401K so as to gain one hundred percent of their worth at some future date. I, on the other hand, would always sell back to the company ten or fifteen of mine, receiving but half their value to finance a vacation to Florida. He was six years younger than me, a great guy, and got to enjoy very little of what he had labored so long to save. If the news of his death saddened me, however, further conversation with the man who had sought me out with the report would give me reason to rejoice. This individual, about my age, while having taken never neglected his family, for as long as I had known him had struggled with an addiction to gambling. To learn now that awhile back he not only managed to break such hold on his identity, but that he also found deeper relationship with Christ in finding that victory, was like serving me up manna from heaven! At this stage of the journey, more and more it is but to be expected that family, comrades, and acquaintances, who share my generational time span to some degree on either side of me, are looking at the odds increasing that any of us might well be the next one to leave. I face that fact with no fear. What concerns me is the world around this old man: the chaos, the lack of morality, the loss of sense, and the Gospel message being preached in the midst of it all. The battle, however, is not mine to fight, other than through a surrendering of myself unto Him. All things are in His hands…….

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Clay Feet..............................."

Visitation for my wife’s oldest brother was Tuesday evening in the church sanctuary, the funeral service taking place there as well, at one o’clock Wednesday afternoon. The deceased had fought in Okinawa during WWII, was wounded twice, awarded two Purple Hearts, and now laid to rest in military fashion, a couple of Army soldiers rendering Taps and presenting our nation’s flag to his widow. Family gathered from all over, giving opportunity to renew acquaintance with some that I hadn’t seen in years. Amusing to watch two of his sisters, who haven’t talked to each other for at least two decades, avoid each other throughout the entire ritual. I love them both and know well, from my own experience, that all too often: it happens… Our Bible class last night focused on the seventh chapter of Romans wherein the apostle Paul speaks of his own humanity yet being an issue in his Christian walk (or at least that’s how we who took part in the discussion so saw it and therefore how we examined it in our own life). The danger, it seems to me, is in (a) simply dismissing that aspect of our existence, somehow believing our declaration of faith absolves us of all sin, past, present, and future; or in (b) recognizing the truth of the matter, but accepting it as an inability to meet that which we think is required of us. What Jesus brings unto us through His victory over Satan is the restoration of what Adam originally knew in the Garden, not some sanctified state of existence in which it was impossible for him to stumble, but a “oneness” with the Creator, a relationship wherein mercy and grace were always available unto him if he would only face his Maker. Even so our own journey must be accomplished in truth and whether or not we utilize the healing waters provided remains, of course, a matter of our own choice……

Monday, March 5, 2012

"In the Midst of the Storm.............."

Northern Kentucky was but one of several places across this country where tornadoes struck this past Friday leaving behind death and devastation. A small rural community about five miles south of us was pretty well just wiped off the map while my wife and I were sheltered with others on the lower level of a local mall. Tragedy, for us, came, instead, in the wee hours after midnight, at exactly three-sixteen a.m. Sunday morning. We were expecting it, family members having been called to be there with her oldest brother during what appeared to be his final moments with us. Nonetheless, parting is never void of sorrow, the separation sealed and the heart left with only memories. It was nearly dawn when the two of us returned home. Our day has been phone-calls, cat-naps, and much like “being in limbo”. Rather than going to church, I sat down this evening and pulled up the computer broadcast of our service, worship already underway and the song coming forth immediately connecting with my spirit, its lyrics relating all that the blood of Christ brings unto us. For a few moments the flow made all of us one. Theology mattered not. There was no need of any real understanding of one’s faith. It didn’t require a Biblical PHD to step into His presence and be humbled by all that He is. Yet therein, it seems to me, is the key ingredient to this mystery, whether the emphasis is on our praise or practice of what we profess to believe. I told my sister-in-law recently Saturday evening that it isn’t about us creating God out of the Book, but rather the other way around. In either situation, are we willing to yield ourselves unto His grace, His rod and staff……

Friday, March 2, 2012


Some sort of viral bug has plagued me the last few days, a day off from school and a visit to Veterans supplying me with some Amoxicillin to fight it; but it does seem to be reduced to a few sniffles at night before bed, under control otherwise. An option to forget the NyQuil before crawling under the covers, however, gave birth to one of those “asleep but not asleep” journeys and an early return to the living room recliner this morning, my thoughts on just who and what we are in our humanity. A man comes into this life helpless, no control over bodily functions, no ability to do much of anything other than scream for attention, needing help if he is going to survive. If nothing takes him out along the way, there’s a good chance that, in his finality, once again he finds himself in the same situation. The only difference, as I see it, is that on the inside of that which has held him all those years exists a seasoned individual about to be set free from flesh… I read an article some time ago wherein scientists claimed that any sense of our being a spirit and soul persona capable of yet knowing another functional state after death was no more than an illusion produced by our own brain. Having once experienced being momentarily “out” of my body, though, this old man begs to argue their ignorance. Temporary as it was, the event gave no opportunity to examine myself in a mirror, but hovering over and looking down at my frame laying flat on its back in bed with a river of praise flowing from my lips, I well realized the separation, the truth of that which my Bible teaches. My “mind” no longer felt contained, as if held in the grip of something in my head. I could reason without the “mechanics”. There was, and yet is, a step beyond this mystery within which we now walk. Christ called it “eternity” and said that it begins with knowing both Him and His Father……

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Wednesday evening Bible class ended with a bit of disagreement, nothing involving a need to physically separate anybody, the issue contested not being pursued any farther than by a few who noted their reluctancy to accept a statement made by this old man. In short, I saw no reason to attempt a forceful demand for them to adapt their theology toward mine, whether or not they believe Jesus to have been the first to be “born-again” in no way affecting their faith in Christ. To each their own. We all come unto Him via different paths and will one day kneel before Him individually. To my own way of thinking, however, without this specific piece of the puzzle, one is reduced to possessing no more than a “disconnected story” held together by one’s willingness to believe. Sin becomes what we do or don’t do, instead of who and what we are; and salvation tends to be maintained out of our own religious convictions, rather than confirmed by a reality. Until we can see the Holy Ghost as that which was divinely introduced into Adam in the Garden, then adamantly rejected by him out of his love for the woman, until we likewise find Jesus conceived by the Holy Ghost, knowing God’s original “plan for man” all the way from His birth unto His crucifixion at Golgotha and then momentarily losing it to take our walk into hell, we are left with riddled explanations of the Gospel, doctrinal dogma that divides us and often makes little sense. In the depths of darkness, the Father confirmed that bond with His Son and, in doing so, made it possible for us to be re-connected as well. I find that, not only Scriptural, but also a vital fact that opens the door to better understanding of other mysteries brought to us by the Word. Burn me if you wish; but it’s where I am after nearly forty years of following Him down the path……