Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Sabbath Treats................................"

After trying a new location for Chinese Sunday buffet, Beth and I settled down, she on the couch and I in my recliner, to watch “War Horse”. One might think the video choice to be mine on this particular occasion, the title indicating a strong chance of it not being a “chick flick”. In truth, it was her wish, me thinking it just another animal story. In truth, it was. No way around it, though; the tale was well told, a bit of a heart gripper and well worth the investment. For that matter, the description just given could also apply to our visit earlier to the Youth Detention Center. There were three of us who shared, the two women who completed today’s crew not all that bold about addressing a group and simply sitting with about ten girls in the rear of the room. My son-in-law was away on a much needed mini-vacation with his family. Music, therefore, was reduced to big Bob singing a hymn a cappella and me doing my best with an updated version of “Just As I Am”. If it all started off a little slow, along the way it became more and more evident that the Holy Ghost was working in our midst, tying together a common theme of Christ “alive” in me from beginning to end, reaching the kids as only He can. After we concluded the service, Jackie and Deb were invited by the guards into a separate unit off to one side where they spent twenty minutes praying with those young ladies. If the afternoon movie warmed my heart, the morning “dip in the pool” still feels good to my soul……

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Fuzzy Thinking............"

Thursday evening here, twenty minutes until my usual rendezvous with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. I just finished helping the granddaughter with her homework, my brain both somewhat numb after six hours of baby-sitting the Special-Ed unit and extremely fuzzy from a decision to eliminate all coffee intake three days ago. Hopefully, the fog will lift before our visit with the kids at the Detention Center Sunday. Yesterday, our midweek Bible study class was undertaken with a substitute teacher, a friend of mine, a retired high-school teacher and a minister attached to our church staff a few years back. These days he’s “on call”, filling in at various educational facilities, sick days, emergency, whatever the need, and simply serving God in a volunteer status, reaching out to people through the church even though he’s no longer in a salaried position there. His lesson last night, while open for all of us to interrupt at any time, was mostly just a sharing of his own perspective, Romans, chapters ten and eleven, somehow reduced to a message wherein the Final Judgment will be a matter of the sheep being separated from the goats. He may well be right, of course, but I found the subject just another “rabbit we tend to chase down a hole”, one of those tangents that capture our passion in this journey we undertake. To me, whether our focus is on divorce, abortion, homosexuality, or any number of other hot topics, the balance we need in our understanding of the situation in front of us is accomplished through a stumble wherein we attempt to follow the Holy Ghost. There are no absolutes in this other than Jesus Christ. He brings everything else into focus, even for an old man coming down off of caffeine……

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Bible Thumping............"

“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him”…Ephesians 2:12

Saturday evening I found myself in conversation with a young father of three, two of his daughters and my granddaughter about to appear in their school’s yearly theatrical production, this particular one a stretch on “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. All three of the girls would handle their assigned roles superbly. Each had no problems with stage fright. None over-played their part. In a way, their involvement illustrated something I was trying to establish with Micah before the show, he expressing a need for boldness in taking the Gospel unto others, my own view being that our audacity in such area requires His hands on our anchor-line, His wisdom, for that matter, in the whole affair. It is, I think, one of the biggest mistakes that we, as believers, make. Our witness must be a flow of His inner presence, not just an opinion that we hold on the subject we attempt to approach, our solution to the situation we are trying to solve. Christ isn’t about cloning converts, but about reaching people where they are. He, Himself, is the message. He, alone, is our salvation. Either He is alive and we are dead, buried, and resurrected in Him, or all we really possess is just another religious agenda, one we may, indeed, be passionate about, but one void of that which has already proven itself victorious over death.

Friday, April 20, 2012


The apostle Paul, in the Book of Colossians, defines the mystery of the Gospel as being “Christ in me” and then goes on to call it “the hope of glory”. For most of my forty-year walk in this, I took that latter phrase to speak of the indwelling as some sort of investment given us by the Almighty, one that had cost Him His only Son and one that could possibly, due to our humanity yet being a part of the process, fail in its fruition. Last week, though, in searching out something on my mind to share with the men at the mission, it occurred to me, while driving to school, that the meaning could really refer to that which we, as believers, seek to know in our journey, the confirmation of that which we hold to be true, a manifestation of the fact, Spiritual proof of what the Bible tells us to be so. Of course, you start talking like this to most of the Church and they immediately figure you for a fanatic, someone who has fallen off the deep end. Yet the very basics of our doctrinal theology, regardless of what name is over the door, teaches a Trinity and the fact of Jesus having “spanned the gulf” between heaven and earth, a man now “re-connected” with his Maker through the finished work of Calvary. If some are willing to settle for no more than heaven, hanging their faith on their individual view of the Word, to each their own. If others seem to think themselves an appointed, divine authority, commanding health, wealth, and prosperity, to each their own lesson to learn. I have found Him true to His promise, though, that He is already the Pearl of great price, a well of living water within me, an oasis to which I can return again and again. He is an assurance and a strength that comes to me not through any boldness on my part, but as His wisdom dictates in response to my hunger and thirst to know Him as I go…..

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


We return to the rescue mission again tomorrow night, my thoughts on a contemporary version of the old hymn “Just As I Am”, the verses therein expressing the truth, as far as I’m concerned, that never do we reach any other status in our relationship with the Creator. My eggs are in the basket for any omelet I’ll be attempting to serve the men; but the loan of a book Sunday evening has given me some seasoning to add to the mixture. Skye Jethani is an author hereto unknown to me, but his 2009 gift of “The Divine Commodity” has me wondering if there is more of his literary efforts out there somewhere. As the title indicates, he sees the Gospel as having been compromised, the Church selling itself rather than living the reality” of Christ. Two chapters into it, about the only place I take issue with his point of view is in his identifying part of the problem being our lack of “imagination”, a term he applies to our no longer being “blown away” by God’s greatness. Wherein he feels like the condition could be cured by sitting in silence some starry night on the beach, contemplating the vastness of the universe while the waves roll in from the curve of the horizon, he yet stops short of giving any credit to a need for the Spirit be involved in the matter; and I remain convinced that, without the Holy Ghost, it is just as easy to walk away from such an experience feeling so insignificant as to question if indeed there be any rhyme or reason to anything. He extends unto us grace ; and, in discovering the truth of the Creator’s love for us in spite of who and what we are, is to know “Christ in me” as Calvary ordained it……

Saturday, April 14, 2012


In beginning Romans, Chapter Eight, somehow or other our Wednesday evening class got into what the teacher noted as three ways that believers often take in living out their faith: (a) by a set of doctrinal rules; (b) by a series of formulas; and (c) by an experience. He proposed that, while all possessed some value for us, the first led to legalism, the second to “mechanical” rather than “Spiritual” structure”, and the third to becoming disappointed in the “ups and downs” that tend to follow all of us, even “in” Christ. It was the latter that gave me momentary pause, my own walk much constructed and, indeed, held together by those times of encounter, mileposts wherein the Gospel proved itself rooted and grounded in the truth of His resurrection. I understand his point; and I agree that it is possible for one to get side-tracked, expecting the manifestation to be exactly the same and then becoming disappointed when “faith” doesn’t find results. The error, though, lies in thinking that we can somehow dictate to Him how He is to act on our behalf. Having invited the Spirit into our state of affairs, we ignore His identity as the Third Person of the Godhead and tend to yet believe “authority” is a matter given unto us. We call the shots. We direct His involvement in our life… In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “glory” actually means “heaviness” or “weight”. Our knowing it in all its fullness would be like submerging into the depths of the ocean until the pressure is more than we can bear. When Moses asked to so see the Creator, he was granted such occasion only after being tucked safely away in the “cleft of the rock”. In the New Testament, however, the Greek root for the same term translates to “something channeled from another source”; and when I mentioned in class my recent discovery of this, one woman immediately received the idea of the Holy Ghost “in” me originating from somewhere “beyond” me; but whether or not she absorbed the truth of “that which is channeled having a mind of His own” was questionable. Always: He remains deity; and our role in this is “Just as I am, Lord”……

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Sunday evening, in stopping at the rear of the sanctuary to check if mid-week Bible class was still on the schedule, I found myself invited by the assistant pastor to attend some sort of pledge signing, a follow-up to the male-oriented theme of the movie “Courageous”. Surely there’s no harm in having men publically commit themselves to maintaining a witness of the reality of their faith before their children and grandchildren, to being involved in those lives that look unto them for leadership, love, and approval. My answer, however, was “Thanks; but no thanks.” Within this very church, I have, in the last four decades, watched as Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth” in the late 70s had everyone excited about the rapture being right there on the horizon, shook my head as the Charismatic wind blew through in the last part of the 80s, drastically changing Pentecost and disrupting almost every other denomination out there, understood the interest in the “Left Behind” series during the 90s, but after a while wondered just how many books it took to tell it all, and then actually purchased a copy of Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” just to see what all the commotion was about. By the time “Fireproof” came along with its subsequent “Love Dare”, a forty-day formula for saving a marriage, I was burnt out, not with that which I had found in the beginning, but with all the ways we find to turn salvation into something other than “Christ in me”. Lanny Wolfe, way back there somewhere, once wrote a song, the lyrics in one place stating “I’m so tired of being stirred, but not being changed” and the tune often returns to me as again and again the mania repeats itself. Sitting with my pastor friend in Pensacola a few days ago, I spoke of how, at one point in his journey, he had thought himself done in so far as moving forward in ministry within the Body, me encouraging him of his calling. Now he again has his own congregation and it is this old man who has no concern for involving myself in any part of the ecclesiastical scene. I believe in it. I’ll sit in the balcony and worship with them. There is, I think, as big a work to be done within the sanctuary as there is anywhere else; and I’m glad for those whom God has ordained for the challenge. My leading, anymore, though, is to the streets, the rescue mission and the Detention Center, whatever door He opens unto me. I’ll fellowship; but see no reason to take membership otherwise……

Monday, April 9, 2012


If our “anniversary celebration get-away” this past week turned into “vacation as usual”, no time on the beach at all, no visiting any sights previously unseen, anticipated reunions with restaurants we loved on previous occasions not quite the same experience, it yet was a trip that we both needed, a sharing of life as it came to us. To me, love was never about “Ferris wheels and fairy tales”, but a bonding that somehow creates itself in the middle of all else happening out there, a part of who we are, surrendered unto another, and maintained as we go. It works, I think, much like a sermon point given me while away, one preached by a young man now married, himself, who, when but about three or four years of age, once told my wife to “Shut up!”. I frowned and then somewhat sternly reminded him that he was speaking to my wife. Wounded by my own words, he turned to Beth with tears in his eyes and requested of her to “Shut up...please!” Two decades later, talking to his own congregation, he addressed the Biblical term “selah” utilized in Psalms, related that it simply means “pause”, and phrased it this way: “Where men put a period, God puts a comma!” His dad spoke with me of two weeks later quoting such thought unto those doctors who declared that another son, seriously injured in a bike accident, would not survive. Miracle after miracle would come in that situation. Truthfully, we never know. We can, however, know Him in whom we put our trust, rest in Him who holds every circumstance encountered. In Christ there is never finality, but continuation. Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, yet we possess the promise of His presence, each day, with whatever it brings, tightly held in His hand, guarded by His heart……

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I abandoned this post halfway-through yesterday, but then received comment from a friend concerning her own experience with that "inner tug on the anchor-line" of which I often write. In spite of my believing that all who profess His name need to grow in an ability to define their faith, it is that which is "un-explainable", the ways He proves Himself real in our life that, in my opinion, "seals the deal". Everything else is no more than our perception of His existence, the journey as we have encountered it thus far; and all too often that lacks a resurrected Reality who adjusts our thinking as we go. Stepping into "old-time holiness" in March of '72, I found myself in the middle of what most today refer to as "legalism", a list of "thou-shalt-nots" intended to isolate one from "the world" and, at the same time bring you into a state of "sanctification". It didn't take me long to recognize the error in much of their doctrine. People remain people, even in Christ. God, however, also remains God; and regardless of how much humanity manages to distort all else, grace remains grace, its fact not a matter of our giving it life, but indeed the other way around... I sat with my pastor friend this week and watched a video of his father, dying of cancer and in a coma near the end, yet consistently entering into a state of praying in tongues. My mother-in-law, a few decades back, passed in much the same way. This man, however, was visited at one point by a young girl, a teenager who knew and worshipped him, now backslidden, wounded by the church. She stood there beside his bed in tears, then broke as the old man began to witness to her of her need of Him, his condition changed for those few moments and his vessel utilized by the Holy Ghost within...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Sunday morning's worship service was one of the most powerful manifestations of God's presence overflowing and connecting the congregation that I have witnessed for quite some time. The Body became one in Him, tears and tongues tying us together, the music merely a catalyst, lyrics through which the heart surrendered itself unto the Spirit of He who abides within. Were we so overtly an "organism" and not an "institution" when the sermon came forth afterwards? Probably not; but we were focused. Ears heard and minds received as the Holy Ghost spoke through the pastor on the Church being not so much an "ecclesia", a people separated and set apart from the world, but a "kuriakon", a tabernacle of the Lord, a vessel through which He, Himself, moves in an attempt to rescue "the rest of the family". Such effort is accomplished "not by power, not by might", not through some arrogant declaration we make of possessing truth. Truth, rather, is a Reality that speaks for itself, a resurrection confirmed, a salvation beyond denominational credos. So I believe. So I have found it to be. "Life" is more than sucking air through your lungs......

Sunday, April 1, 2012


April Fool.  I'm not sure who started such nonsense, but yesterday began Spring Break for our neck of the neighborhood and, with the thirteenth of this month marking our forty-eighth anniversary, Beth and I have escaped to a "desert island" for a few days of celebration. This is being written early in the a.m., me seated in the large foyer of the Hampton Inn, a hot breakfast being served in the dinnete area and MSNBC amusing me on the television across the room. Back home, Fox News is usually my only source of political input; and watching "the rest of the story" merely affirms my opinion that man is a complicated animal, full of vanity but confused for the most part and in need of some greater means of navigation other than his own ability to reason. We gather with those with whom we agree. We make war with those with whom we don't. Peace, for most of us, is "having it my way". In perusing the Book of Exodus this morning, I read where God told Moses that the tabernacle would be sancitifed by His glory. Surely, one day we'll learn: Walking by our own understanding will always be a stumble down the road. The only "reality" is an inner connection with the One who created it all in the first place; and if that, for the moment, only equates to a temporary oasis where we can know Him in all that He is, then let me walk with enough sense to know He, alone, is truth, with enough thirst such union to follow His tug on the anchor-line......