Thursday, August 30, 2012

"The Circle......................"

My cousin passed away suddenly on Monday. She was sixty-four, at the hospital for some kind of kidney treatment, and died while there of a heart attack. Go figure. It’s been more than fifty years since, as kids, we all went gathered together with my dad’s family on special occasions at my grandparent’s house. During the summer the whole clan would often head a few miles south to pitch tents and camp out along a river bank in Cynthiana. Otherwise, I’ve probably talked with her no more than twice in the interim. Good people. I love them all. Down the road, though, we just went separate ways and we no longer have much in common other than our roots. Beth and I drove over to the “lay-out” last night, held in a small American Legion Post, no casket, no ashes that I could determine, just a table with flowers, photos, and memorabilia. Small buckets of beer settled in some ice were brought to each table (plenty of coke and coffee for the few of us whose taste run differently) and along one wall to the side was more than enough food for all there. We stayed for an hour, asked if there would be any sort of service other than enjoying the mingling, then excused ourselves and left. In truth, there is just about no one on my father’s side with any sort of church connection, faith in a Creator no more than each individual’s personal conviction about the matter. I mention that, however, with no intent to suggest that makes them somehow beneath me. In my theology, they simply have had little opportunity to experience Christ, to see Him “with eyes opened”, in another way other than what the Media and, if we want to be honest, what believers, themselves, have brought to them. In that sense, even this old man might one day be held accountable. It is all yet a mystery to me, final judgment resting in His hands, everything here resting in the wisdom of the Holy Ghost. They and I, both, must have “ears to hear”, hearts open to His tug on the anchor-line…..

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I left home in a fog this morning. Actually, it was the world around me that was wrapped up in a grey mist; and, to be even more truthful, once the main highway was reached, the creek and all the foliage on either side of our back road left behind me, suddenly it was a clear day. The sun was shining brightly all the way to school. My mind, however, was remembering “Brigadoon”, an old musical wherein two hunters on a hillside in the mountains of Scotland find themselves surprised by a thick, mysterious fog that arises out of nowhere. Stumbling along through the dense woods, they come upon a small village that turns out to be under a spell, one wherein the people who live there, along with everything else in a small area around them, exist for only one week, indeed, for only one week every one hundred years! Driving through rush-hour traffic, I’m thinking to myself, “If they’re isolated from all of society, how would they even know the difference? You go to sleep and when you get up the next day, it may be a century later on somebody else’s calendar; but, for you, it is no more than tomorrow.” Down the expressway. Take the off-ramp. “For that matter, do any of us really know for sure that what we call reality holds any significance other than what we assign it? A flat universe that holds innumerable galaxies originating from some historic point in the pass when nothing exploded into something that is still being flung somewhere while we arise and go about our business like what has been will always be, pour me a cup of coffee and let’s get to work.” Maybe I’m just a weird duck, a fellow who asks too many questions. The Gospel simply makes sense to me and there is gratitude in my heart for the message it brings; but forty years in this long ago convinced me of humanity being the fly in the ointment, no man, no denomination, not even myself, having it all figured out. In the middle of darkness, however, there is light. In the center of confusion, it’s possible to reach through the veil, touch peace, and rest in an assurance that only He gives……

Sunday, August 26, 2012


“It’s not how well the bear dances,” the Russian proverb goes, “but that the bear dances at all.” In such a manner, a friend of mine tied together some thoughts on marriage in a post that began with an excerpt from one of A.A. Milne’s stories. Winnie the Pooh giving his opinion of everybody being “alright”, then going on to acknowledge that he could be wrong. Christopher Robin, however, simply called him “silly” about the latter and correct about the former. Chuck, in wrapping all that together, wrote of holding an unbelief in “coincidence”, the “magic of serendipity”, indeed, comparing it to whatever faith he held in God. He was “aware”, he said, of the Almighty, aware of “grace, bad choices, and uneasy roads”, aware of “change and possibilities”, aware of “hope”. That prompted comment from me, a note typed in haste before driving out to church. His reply was waiting when I returned. In truth, my original words were meant only to register a confession of possessing a similar relationship with my own wife, one wherein the two of us are seemingly connected “inside”, joined, not at the hip, but in our heart. My suggestion that a man could know that same sort of cohesive contact with his Maker, though, brought forth another entry from him, a clarifying of semantics and a declaration of faith. All and well, as far as I’m concerned. His original point, that life is a matter of finding rhythm with the beat, was learned by this old man a long time ago. Spouse-wise, for me, that equates to a tango, neither of us able to make it work without the other; but spiritually, male or female, the waltz goes much better when you allow Him to lead

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The air-conditioner in our bedroom blows directly across us as we sleep, Beth always with the covers thrown back and complaining she is hot, while the old man usually stays under the quilt with a wool thrown over it and pulled up over my head. The direct flow of the freeze irritates my sinuses. I awoke this morning early with some sniffles, went into my recliner, couldn’t go back to sleep, and opened my copy of Edersheim’s “Jesus the Messiah” to my last point of perusal. The text before me began to draw a picture of, not only the political environment, religious and otherwise, back when Christ, as a young boy, was taken to the temple in Jerusalem, but also the inner structure of that sacred edifice. If, in the last forty years, my education in this ever included knowledge of the stone within the Muslim’s Dome of the Rock being believed by some to be the actual foundation upon which the Ark of the Covenant once rested, somewhere along the way it got lost in the shuffle. It’s funny just how much our mind, in gathering together information, shapes data according to our individual perceptions at the time, often losing vital contributions to the “whole story” while becoming a point we would defend as absolute truth. That’s why I enjoy a mid-week Bible class where we all can discuss various portions of Scripture, disagree perhaps here and there, but walk out still brothers and sisters solidified in Him. It’s why Friday afternoon a young Catholic committed to the teachings of his church and an old Pentecostal deeply planted in a Holy Ghost experience that has lasted for forty years now could both relate and rejoice via an inner connection as they shared their faith. It’s the sword “of the Spirit”, not a leather-covered hammer given to beat people over the head. Compromise doesn’t necessarily equate to surrender; but it could well require admitting that you’re not the only guy in the room......

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Still Here......"

Returning to work in an Elementary Special-Ed unit has certainly kept me busy the last few days, trying to mesh the daily schedules for five children in three different grade levels, each attached to a separate home room and only three of us to escort them to and fro, a bit of a challenge. This past Wednesday the church school, a week behind the county facilities as usual, opened its doors and my daughter dropped off my three grandkids with mixed emotions. She drove down to our house afterwards and spoke to me with a tear in her eye, the last year a long, hard walk for all of us and such anxiety now, even after the trial, not lost on me. The moment has remained with me, several attempts to express my thoughts here being deleted. It suffices to say that my mind just hasn’t been all that clear, at least to the point that I was satisfied with where I kept going; but, at the same time, life has not been lived under a cloud. There are four boys and one girl assigned to us and, as noted, it’s been a bit of a shuffle thus far. On Monday, my main charge, who has an occasional mild anger problem, needed to leave his Math class and walk with me to an isolated area where the two of us could work by ourselves. Seated at a table and leaning over his paper, a pencil in his hand as he tackled a work sheet, he turned to me and almost whispered “Be vehrwee quiet!” He wasn’t “hunting wabbits”, so I’m not sure where the line came from. It reminded me of the Fourth Grader who was my introduction to this job. That fellow would often, in the middle of whatever he was doing, be singing the theme song for Barney, and then the next break into a rendition of “When they begin the beguine… In spite of everything, God keeps me amused. Add a great Bible study the other evening and me learning today that this young male teacher whom I am assisting is an avid reader of Christian literature (he and his wife both involved in Catholic lay ministry), what you’ve got is an old man who is thankful for His blessings. It sure beats just sitting here and slowly rotting on the vine…..

Monday, August 20, 2012


My second oldest grandson starts college today. It’s just a local extension of the state university, within his parent’s budget and just a short drive, keeping them happy and making him excited. I remember my own time of leaving the nest. My father had died six months earlier, an accident that changed the future for all of us, me abandoning a scholarship in engineering and working a short time for the company who had already lost money in sponsoring such venture. I was just eighteen, though. How many of us really have any sense of direction at that point? When the airplane began to taxi toward the runway that night in 1960, my mother and siblings were waving at me from the windows of the terminal and there was a “lump” inside me fully aware that a part of me was being left behind. At the same time, however, youth was anxious for whatever was waiting for me at the other end of this leap. No plan. No purpose. Let’s get this thing off the ground… Fifty-two years later. I found myself Sunday evening sitting in the church balcony and looking down on a handful of others like Elijah, recent graduates who are about to embark on their own journey. Some have known our sanctuary from birth. All will set forth with more spiritual experience than this old man possessed in the beginning. Nonetheless, four decades in Christ have taught me that “faith” isn’t so much a personal sword one swings as a “conqueror of all things”, but rather an “anchor in Him” that has held me in spite of whatever life brought to me. Hopefully, I pray, somewhere beyond all the boasts of promised prosperity, guaranteed healing, and assured victory in all that they do, some mother and father has taught their child that tomorrow is “through the veil”, each day holding its own lesson to learn, and their best shot is a daily return to the well……

The Umbilical Cord...................."

My family gathered together in my living-room last Tuesday evening, concerned about an event taking place the next day, the details of which had troubled our minds for over a year. It was time for one final prayer. We stood in a circle holding hands; but, when they asked me, as patriarch, to lead them into such petition, I went to my knees in their midst and, as best I could, tried to forget they were there. For me, communication with God is a one-on-one affair, difficult in almost any way one goes at it, the goal not so much about making myself known unto Him as it is stepping into a connection wherein words are no longer required. That latter condition can be acquired, of course, in a communal setting. The individual just has to mentally “lose the group”. Once union is established, however, there should be an over-flowing of the vessel that brings everybody into the experience. Merely He and I in a “closet” is not all that different; but it is amazing how one’s thoughts can be so centered on touching the hem of His garment one minute and then, suddenly, you find yourself completely out in left field somewhere else. Humanity remains humanity. It’s not like, because we’ve been “born-again” and the Holy Ghost now abides within, two become one no more than we put ourselves to the task. Meditating in silence might well be as good a way to approach Him as any other, but I’ve found there is no “formula” to this, nothing guaranteed at all other than His promise to never forsake us. The well is there. Worshipping in spirit and in truth is a prerequisite. Humility works better than arrogance. Best I can tell, it’s much like that old iced-tea commercial: in the middle of realizing your appreciation of His grace, you find yourself falling backwards into another dose of it. The Bible speaks of it in terms of being saved by His "life”……

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Saturday morning I went to the park early, the sun just rising over the hills to the east and bringing a bit of warmth to the old man as he circled the soccer field, head down and lost in thought. Thus it was then that, twice during my usual seven orbits, the shadow of a jogger coming from the opposite direction would catch me unawares, sweeping suddenly into my presence and causing me to audibly blurt out "wooooOOHHH!" One would think this old man would learn to look where he was going or even learn to listen for the sound of approaching footsteps pounding the pavement. As it was, both incidents merely reflected, somewhat, that which occupied my mind at the time. Lee Strobel's paperback, “The Case For a Creator”, keeps reinforcing to me how, not just the universe, but our galaxy and our planet, as well, have all increasingly convinced scientists over the last few decades of such precision in the underlying mechanics of their existence that, for a man to dismiss the probability of divine design, he is simply going through life with his brain not paying attention to much of what’s right in front of him. I say that with no malice toward the atheist, since, in my opinion, there are just as many people out there, sitting in a pew and blind to anything other than a theological image that they, themselves, have manufactured out of chapter and verse, deaf to the voice of God crying unto them out of an inner well that He remains bigger than their little box . The condition, in either scenario, is something known as "humanity" and is common to us all. What often cures it, at least momentarily, is an unexpected “bolt out of the blue”……

Saturday, August 18, 2012


During the last three days of settling into another year of working in an Elementary Special-Ed unit, on two different occasions a door was opened unto me for giving a witness to the Gospel of Christ. Neither time found me referring to chapter and verse nor demanding that my experience had to be duplicated in order to ensure salvation. Sometimes I think that the biggest hindrance to the message going forth is a Church that thinks itself as having personally solved the mystery, each individual offshoot with its own theology and an ego to announce their doctrinal demands. While the Bible is, indeed, an essential part of the foundation upon which we build, yet, by the very fact that humanity is involved in any digestion of its contents, its truths must be learned as we go, step after step in a stumble down the path, the Holy Ghost our teacher. Does exploring the Greek and Hebrew roots of individual words sometimes give better insight to the text? Maybe. Is it necessary for us to factor in cultural background and historical events? It couldn’t hurt. More importantly, perhaps, the Book is to be taken “from cover to cover”, not pulled apart so as to satisfy our own vanity, the real story the one being created in me as He walks with me through its pages. It is a life-long lesson wherein He remains the teacher and I am merely the vessel, a student in His class, at His feet and ever learning……

Thursday, August 16, 2012


First day back at school went well other than my assigned duties are still being determined. We have a total of five children in our unit at present, scattered in three different grade levels, and therefore a bit of a problem in so far as meshing their schedules into a working solution that two assistants and one teacher can cover. Individual lunch, recess, and class times create a sort of jigsaw puzzle that will be solved, I’m sure, before this week is over. As it is at the moment, I found myself shuffled between the kids, sent to homeroom with one of them to begin my day, taking another with me a little later on a task, a few items needing to be picked up, going twice to the cafeteria to sit with, first the Fourth, and then the Fifth Grade while they ate, plus the afternoon spent mostly with but one student, sitting in Social Studies, taking him to gym. Stick in a couple of group sessions accomplished together as a unit within our own appointed space and, basically, I’ve got “one down, only about one hundred and seventy-four to go”. There were some anxious moments when the buses to go home were twenty-five minutes late, a normality encountered every year in the process of learning new routes and dealing with an initial jam created by so many parents getting into the return process; but there was also one event along the way that just left me amused, speechless, and shaking my head about the enigma that is in each of us. One of our boys, it seems, has a gift memorizing a computer grid that provides him with an aerial layout of northern Kentucky. With exact precision and unbelievable speed, he is able to take you down highways, on and off ramps, through intersections and subdivision labyrinths, finally stopping before his house, grandma’s home, you-name-it-he-knows-how-to-get-there. If, within each of us, there exists such potential, be it manifested in mathematics, music, or whatever, it makes me wonder what triggers it to come forth. This, however, I know: whatever the state of our brain, it is the spirit of man that operates out of what it brings unto us and therefore the need for inviting His Spirit into the journey. I might not be able to find my way out of a paper bag; but, with an internal anchor-line serving also as an umbilical tube making me one with Him, I don’t need a GPS. He takes me “through the veil”…..

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


My oldest daughter’s two sons are both now in college, the twenty year-old also working part-time with Fed Ex. His younger brother is only a month older than their cousin who lives in Lexington; but, having skipped a grade along the way, preceded the latter boy in graduating from high-school. Third out on my list of grandchildren, then, Steven, for most of his life, has been a relationship maintained from afar, the hundred miles or so between us being but one of several hindrances to our knowing him as well as the others. It seems like, from the very beginning, once diapers were abandoned, his dad has had him continually involved in sports, basketball and baseball both, round the calendar, and often playing in two or three leagues at the same time. Visits were short, mostly a matter of waving from the bleachers and sometimes a hour shared around a meal taken in a nearby restaurant. Recently, though, we have discovered common ground between us and this old man is in seventh heaven, texting messages back and forth, discussing our literary pursuits. He has developed an interest, it seems, in the writing of C.S. Lewis, born out of reading the “Chronicles of Narnia”, but now venturing into deeper waters. Nothing so complicated as “Mere Christianity” yet. “The Screwtape Letters”, though, has been conquered, along with “Pilgrim’s Regress”; and I have supplied him with a few others from my bookshelf, believing that “The Chosen “ by Chaim Potok might be right up his alley. It may be late in the game, but the lack of any prior one-on-one has in no way eliminated his hold on my heart. His mother is visiting today and showed me one of his messages to her, a quote from something he has read and meant for no more than a laugh with her about something. “Manna kept is worms”, it read. Biblical in content, the translation thereof would probably be lost to most people. Papaw, though, smiled, thinking to himself that the two of us might be connected in ways that mileage can’t erase……

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Out of the Gate......................"

Yesterday was a bit like being on one of those bumper car amusement park rides, my initial back-to-school encounter a matter of three different individual connections, the first a miscue on my part. Having read two separate e-mail messages and somehow mentally gluing them together, the old man went in bright and early only to discover his error: nothing was happening, orientation-wise, until twelve-thirty. No big deal. I simply returned home after checking out my new room and eventually went to brunch with Beth and the granddaughter. The afternoon, then, was a three-hour session seated in the cafeteria with the rest of the staff, an annual ritual wherein everyone gathers to meet new members, learn of any changes within the program, and watch a few videos. Mostly, it’s a repetitious affair. The teachers, themselves, have been structuring their units and working on schedules for the last week or so. My own responsibilities? Show up and make myself willing to be flexible. This is not a “punch in, punch out” position. Things change. Last night, for example, was “open house”, six to eight, the parking lot a jigsaw puzzle of automobiles overflowing in all directions, families coming in abundance with their children, me having to orbit the situation for several times before finding just enough space to squeeze in the old Toyota Corolla. Three of our five students would come in with their parents, one of them the Fourth Grader who will be mainly my concern this time around. We shake hands and I ask if he remembers me from gathering last year outside at the bus loop, waiting for his ride home. He does. The ice is broken. Mom, after a few minutes, takes him home. Wednesday we set sail. This will be my eleventh voyage, all prior each their own experience, all, I remain convinced, completed under His anointing; and I say that, not meaning to infer divine direction in my accomplishments, but rather His rest, His counsel, His rod and staff teaching me as I go……

Monday, August 13, 2012


Sunday evening’s service was dedicated to our annual practice of praying over our kids (more than a hundred ranging from pre-kindergarten to now attending college), the worship handled by them in various ways and a final ceremony where all walk through two lines of elders seeking a hedge around them and an inner well within them as school once more becomes a daily path they must walk. The pastor’s sermon, delivered just before that final laying on of hands, was centered on a “Christ in me” experience that brings to us the ability to recognize His voice, his tug on the anchor-line, a message that, indeed, had me initially enthusiastically voicing my amen. Toward the end, however, as men do, his theme was utilized to speak of encounters elsewhere, things that happened while visiting other un-named churches, his insinuation being that such silliness would never be tolerated in our sanctuary; and, having four decades of fellowship with this bunch, this old man tends to disagree. Inane doctrinal error is a matter of opinion, there being any number of people who would surely label us “a bit in left field”, some having voiced even stronger views. We are not immune. We are not the chosen few who left our humanity at the Cross upon being “born-again”. There is, I believe, an immersion in the Holy Ghost, a place where “two become one”, a time when even a congregation can find unity in the reality of His presence; and, therein, be convinced of the event. It is also possible, though, for us to become so emotionally wrapped up in our own spirit that we confuse it for the other. God, Himself, is the Authenticator; and that part of the equation is what many of us are not willing to admit. Just another lesson to be learned, a part of “picking up our cross” and following Him……

Sunday, August 12, 2012


At the risk of stirring up discontent amongst the few who yet pass through these waters, my mind is somewhat on political matters at the moment, yesterday’s announcement of Paul Ryan having been selected for that empty spot on the Republican ticket exciting my wife as well as others. He’s a good choice, as far as I’m concerned, but one which probably also pleased the opponents greatly, since they’ve already convinced their own constituents long ago that this is the man who wants to wheelchair granny over a cliff. Not that it matters, in my opinion. This nation has been split right down the middle for at least more than a decade, the battle more about socialism versus capitalism than it is anything else and the middle class footing the bill even as it is ever-increasingly being eliminated from the whole scenario. What’s more: I’m not so sure that the “far right” isn’t just as much “looney tunes” as the “far left”. While I am in agreement with those issues they represent, it doesn’t seem to me that marching in with one’s sword and demanding all others see things from your perspective isn’t what Jesus originally endorsed. It’s also a mystery to me why some within the Church would object to a Mormon occupying the office, especially when the last four years we’ve had what pretty much resembles a Muslim to me. That said, however, let me simply finish this by repeating something my pastor said this evening, it really being the nucleus of what this old man believes about the matter: It’s neither party, Republican nor Democrat, that holds the future of this nation in its hand, but an almighty God who ears are open to those hearts willing to surrender the whole affair unto Him. In this I find peace……

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Lee Strobel is one of those people in modern-day religiosity whom I hold with a degree of caution. He has been a teaching pastor at two of America’s largest churches, worked as a contributing editor and columnist for “Outreach” magazine, and also once taught First Amendment Law at Roosevelt University. No doubt he is better known for the books he has authored, one of which I’m presently reading only because it was discovered in a discount store on sale for about three dollars. Its title establishes it as part of a trilogy of sorts, “The Case for Christ”, “The Case for Faith”, and this one, “The Case for a Creator”. At this point in my journey, so much has already been encountered as far as the Gospel being marketed, that my hesitancy to just accept another’s product on no more than a claim of conversion to Christianity is openly admitted; but that only means I approach such people with a realization that dollars are made all the time by simply printing what a certain segment of the society want to hear. That said, however, whatever the cause for this particular paperback, it seems to me that the incredible facts noted therein, those which refer to the “fine-tuning” of our universe, ought to convince anyone of “divine design” in the scheme of it all. If the Cosmological Constant (that which is keeping the entire shebang from either falling apart externally or collapsing inwardly) and gravity were changed as little as one part in one hundred million trillion to the sixth power (that is like removing one atom from it all), nothing would remain; if somehow the electromagnetic force were decreased by only fifty percent (that’s but one part in ten thousand billion to the fourth power), all atoms other than hydrogen would be destroyed and life, as we know, it could not exist; and those are but two of many recent discoveries that scientists, on either side of the argument, consider to be true. Do such revelations eliminate all questions? Of course not. If there really is an omniscient, all powerful deity who set all this in motion, any dyed-in-the-wool skeptic is going to ask “Where did he come from?”and “What makes us so sure that everything there is eternal should it indeed be our destiny after death?” My answer can be no more than: as we gain more and more knowledge about this mystery into which we are birthed, it appears to continually point us back to our Bible, giving even greater reason to believe the message therein. If some would shout “Faith!”, I would answer it all depends on that into which you invest it. We all have our totems. Rather than constructing them out of cement, in my opinion it’s better to allow Him to reshape them as we go…..

Friday, August 10, 2012


All day Thursday it “felt” as if, instead, it were Saturday. Beginning this week with three consecutive slots on the calendar filled with classes must have somehow re-connected my mind with the thought of a work week. This morning, however, I seem to know right where I’m at, no mixed-up sense of my temporal position, fully aware that, regardless of schedules, commitments, and responsibilities, this moment is all that I have; and even it is not guaranteed forever… The two youngest grandkids arrived a few minutes ago. We’re watching them while their parents visit with a lawyer concerning a court trial in which they are about to be involved. Nobody’s hungry yet, but surely brunch at Bob Evans is not all that far away. If life, in general, as it comes to us with its own share of reality, isn’t enough to occupy our sanity, the world around us, it seems, is a pot of soup with violence in the Middle East still brewing, the possibility of global war knocking at our door, and present circumstances here in our country giving reason enough to question our future; but, in truth, somehow right now all that is no more than “filed in my belly” under “have a little talk with Jesus”. I just finished reading a friend of mine describing her relief in learning that a diagnosis given her of breast cancer was in error, the pathologist’s report actually belonging to someone else. This lady, however, while unable to express fully what the reversal means to her, does a beautiful job of sharing the evidence of what “Christ in me” brings to those who trust in Him. She holds no anger concerning the doctor’s mistake. She well knows that another woman must now be pierced by the same arrow that struck her. From somewhere down inside her, a well (though not stated in such terms) provides peace, provokes humility, and is an over-all assurance of all things being in His hands. Such connection is an anchorage like no other, a stability no matter the storm…..

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Administration has taught me to hold back sixty-minutes from those twenty-four hours of training required of me on a yearly basis since, just before final testing in May, staff is held after-school for such amount in order to inform us of any changes to the rules and regulations. Other than that one yet to come, though, the “final nail in the coffin” was hammered in yesterday afternoon and the matter laid to rest. This will be my eleventh voyage as an Elementary Special-Ed assistant, much changing along the way, three different principals within that time span bringing different manners of “occupying the helm”, the facility, itself, growing greatly in the number of students, and also, it seems to me, what we, as a body, have learned in so far as understanding and reaching these kids has slowly greatly improved. Love, of course, has always been part of the journey; and maybe it’s just me and my own personal walk down the path to which I refer; but two of those classes, taken yesterday morning, just really spoke to me of “doing what we ought to be doing”. When I stepped into this a decade ago, my knowledge of autism was nil. There was no introduction given this old man other than “we need help with a behavioral problem”. Many the day during those first weeks, sitting alone with my charge in an otherwise empty room, thoughts were entertained as to what in the world was I doing there when retirement had previously been considered as finally being able to just relax and forget existing on somebody else’s schedule. Something, however, kept me there. A growing attachment with the boy? A sense of having purpose? Whatever it was, what it became was another “following God’s tug on my heart”, a continual “on the job” learning experience fed mostly by His rod and staff. Thankfully, the system provided input here and there, feedback from highly degreed individuals who would visit the room, teach some of these annual sessions; but, oh how refreshing to finally sit Wednesday and listen to some who have actually been working “in the trenches” from the beginning, who can express the job in terms of “I’ve been there”, who put themselves sincerely into the nitty-gritty of it and know the individual, not just the manual. That, it seems to me, is a truth that we within the Church need to gain as well…..

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Monday was the first of three consecutive days of pre-school classes in an effort to amass twenty-four hours require since they are already part of my yearly paycheck. There were four scheduled yesterday, all chosen by me from a list of titles that often give you little idea of the subject matter, no real explanation otherwise shared; so, as it turned out, of the three one-hour sessions, I found myself in one which provided me with nothing applicable to my job and another which informed us of little other than the fact that “we all have our days”, everybody goes through “moods”. First out of the barrel, however, introduced me to available on-line, free-to-all, educational instruction through something called the “Kahn Academy”, growing more all the time and day, now a nation-wide phenomenon. I’m thinking my grandson could use a little help with his algebra and even this old man might take a whack at chemistry or physics… It was actually the longer two-hour session, though, that has remained with me. It was taught by the same woman who shared with us that it’s alright to have our ups and downs, but this one dealt with the under-lying reasons for any child’s behavior, a huge picture of an iceberg utilized to emphasize such truth and all of us asked to give three possible similarities between that floating mass of frozen water and that student who might be a problem in some way. Almost everyone caught the idea of our only seeing the “tip” of what actually goes much deeper. Some spoke, as well, of my own thoughts concerning both sides of the equation being cold, yet melting if warmth is applied. In such company, however, it seemed to me better to keep my third perception to myself, a suggestion that neither “object” under discussion had any anchorage. Pointing it out, of course, wouldn’t necessarily have had to be addressed in a spiritual sense, good parents being, as I see it, able to provide such need for a child. It’s just that, without being inwardly secured, themselves, to a Creator who is over all, surely there is a greater potential for shipwreck all around; and I’m not so sure the lady in front of us, a product of modern psychology, would have wanted to go sailing into those waters…..

Monday, August 6, 2012


These last week or so, thanks to cable’s giving me the ability to record and watch later, I’ve been able to take in several episodes of the educational channel’s presentation of “The War”, about three hours worth thus far and not necessarily chronologically coming at me. Some of the events took place in North Africa; others focused on our entrance into the Pacific arena. The landing at the southern end of Italy became not much more than a beachhead until we got behind the enemy lines at Anzio in an attempt to initiate a push toward Rome. It is actual footage of our soldiers in battle, today’s portion also including what it was like for Air Force bomber crews to battle both flak and German fighter pilots. A narrator walks you through all the history, but the story is continually punctuated with both survivors who were there and those who lived through it here at home telling of their experiences. The attraction, for me, has nothing at all to do with combat and carnage. This is that generation I knew as father and mother, aunts and uncles, the era into which I was introduced just fifty four days prior to Pearl Harbor. My dad served, leaving behind a wife and three small children. It was a world only familiar to me afterwards, my first vivid memory of such time being his return, my mom carrying my younger brother and walking me and my sister down the street when he walked out of an alley-way, surprising us, his duffel bag slung over his shoulder. It was a time yet steeped in segregation, the film, in all truthfulness, showing just how hypocritical we were in demanding those we still held in a form of slavery to give their lives in a fight for freedom; but, nonetheless, to this old man it remains framed and treasured, happiness in my neck of the words, no television, no computer technology, just family and friends facing each morning as it came to us, life not so full of global threat, the enemy having been defeated… Will my grandkids likewise look back and recall their own past? I’m not so sure anymore of this mess that we are passing on to them. My only confidence is in an anchorage that wasn’t known until my adult years, an assurance each of us must find for ourself, but a river in which they have been swimming almost since birth. In Him I trust and to Him I continually commit those who hold my heart. Peace, as it always has, is an internal gift of God…….

Saturday, August 4, 2012


”Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables; that seeing, they may see and not perceive; and hearing, they may hear and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them”…..Mark 4:11-12

Still chewing on Tony’s thoughts concerning what Jesus meant in the above portion of Scripture, I circled the soccer field Friday afternoon silently talking to the men at the mission. The last time we were there, one fellow came to Dave afterwards confessing his conversion to Christ as a child, but also acknowledging a twenty-year addiction to drugs, his understanding of him being “saved” requiring some instantaneous victory over the latter. My view of the Gospel message, however, is a bit different, allowing for a walk with the Holy Ghost, a journey wherein an inner work is ever in progress, His patience willing to take us just as we are if we are but willing to give ourselves in a surrender of who and what we are, committing our stumble unto His grace. What’s more, I believe that the kingdom is won more so out of individual struggles than it is out of religious institutions that tend to get all wrapped up in organization and ego, losing sight of the personal pieces of the puzzle. I see it in the Church. I see it in government. The world around us right now is in a mess, people looking for answers, economically, socially, the nature of the beast revealed in widespread riots and war. Here at home, we are divided right down the middle. The solution, though, it seems to me, is not a matter of “who” occupies the office (and I’m talking about the whole can of worms up in D.C.), but “who” occupies the man (or woman) we have elected to sit in the seat. Never will we all think alike. We can, however, all know the same inner anchor-line and pray for each other as we go. The problem will not be cured merely with a ballot booth since the real root of the matter comes back to believers who think their faith no more than a doctrinal dogma held in their head rather than a Reality in their “belly” restored unto them via Jesus nailed to a Cross. If God IS "in" us, then it begins with “me”, leaven in the loaf, seed sown in the deepest part of who and what we are. It is a process, not an instantaneous transformation, yet it is contagious if that internal stream is allowed to come forth……

Friday, August 3, 2012


My mechanic operates out of an old barn converted into a garage, located about a half hour drive south of me, out a windy, two-lane road, up and down a few Kentucky hills, then back a ridge a mile or so over an undivided, even “crookeder” route. In terminology my family used when I was a child, it’s “out in the country”. With merely a few open days yet left on my calendar before school starts, though, I drove the old blue Toyota Corolla out for an oil change yesterday, taking along one of my Ravi Zacharias books to thumb through while there. This isn’t Jiffy Lube or the waiting area at your local auto dealer’s place of business. Henry’s “office” is to one side of four racks, no doors, not much in the way of walls, for that matter, several decades of grease, dust, tools, farm equipment, pin-up pictures of old cars as well as women, an ancient desk covered with paperwork that seems to overflow to other parts of the place, and a coffee pot sitting at an angle atop some books on a bench near the entrance. There’s a metal kitchen table with a couple of chairs positioned near a refrigerator whose outside surface appears to have never known a wipe-down with any sort of cleanser. Seated there on this occasion was an old man, a bit thinner than me, but about the same height, and his grey hair, though shaggy in back, merely an extension of his full beard, trimmed and not “Santa Claus”, yet a good handful around that lower part of his face. When he spoke, I sat down beside him; and, from there it was forty-five minutes of his life history. Born in Perry County, quitting school at the age of thirteen when his father died in the mines, he came north looking for a job, only by chance, while working at a sheet-metal factory in Cincinnati, did he pick up knowledge of automobiles from a friend and it led to nearly sixty years within such trade. My own contributions to the conversation were minimal, believing myself to be in the company of an “elder”. When, at one point just before leaving, I inquired as to his age, it was all I could do to keep from visibly showing my shock, his answer revealing him to be but seventy-four. While my own antiquity certainly doesn’t reflect youth and good looks, the journey, seemingly, hasn’t quite yet brought me to such stage as this fellow. It could be, of course, that others view me differently, my vanity interfering with what my vision sees in the mirror; but, of a truth, I’m glad for the changes that coming to Christ in ’72 brought to me in so many ways. An immediate break from an addiction to more than two packs of cigarettes a day, if nothing else, had to account for at least part of this longevity gained……

Thursday, August 2, 2012


With Vacation Bible School occupying the sanctuary and many people working to see that take place, not only was the usual mid-week service cancelled, but our Wednesday evening’s class was down to but four of us plus a substitute teacher found at the last minute. The lesson was reduced to discussion concerning those initial verses of Christ’s Parable of seed being sown and the idea that evangelizing was an on-going work of Divinity on either side of the equation. Indeed, we were agreed that the real “identity” of that which believers are to somehow invest in others is not the Bible, but the reality of Jesus, alive in us via the Holy Spirit, a matter which, in truth, only He can accomplish and only in so much as we surrender ourselves to it happening. That said, however, it makes me consider the reason for my having maintained this sort of on-line journal for more than a decade. From the very start the theme herein has, for the most part, consistently expressed my Christianity in one way or another, not in any attempt to convert whomsoever might drop by to visit, merely a matter of it being where this old man’s thoughts are almost continually. Never has it really been successful in gaining conversation with others positive, negative, or otherwise, just a comment here and there along the way; and, while at one time as many as thirty people or so read me at least occasionally, nowadays “membership” is down to five that I know, all of whom profess the same religious faith as this old man, but only one deeply entrenched with me in a like-mannered perspective of the Gospel. What this particular post is trying achieve, therefore, is not an apology for my frequent tendency to preach my views about some portion of the Book, oftentimes announcing in the middle of it all, as well, my opinion as to the state of the Church at large. It has nothing to do with trying to “mug” anybody, demanding a throwing up of your hands and surrendering to my mentality. Writing is a relaxing way to sort out all that’s going on in my head and I am very thankful for friendship in this journey. God bless each of you…

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


My thoughts lately have been a jumbled mixture of life as it has come to me, all giving me pause, reason to wonder about the basic principles by which we exist as a society. Mostly, it has been a pondering of human nature, such as it is, a wondering about what we, the Church at large, really thinks separates us from everybody else out there. I sat in service last Sunday morning, listening to worship and recalling how, back in 1972 when I stepped into this, a well-known author had just published a paper-back book predicting the return of Christ in ’81. In truth, it seemed that, during that eight year interim, out of every ten Gospel songs written, seven or more dealt with the rapture taking place and believers being caught up to be with the Lord. Nowadays, within the Pentecostal bunch, anyhow, the bulk of our music refers to power, authority, blessings, and prosperity being ours to claim, freedom from whatsoever bondage ours to possess if we’ll simply stand and speak faith unto it. I long ago, though, realized that “building one’s house upon sand” could apply to our interpretation of the Word as well as it did anything else. We remain people, even “in” Christ. The difference in me is no more than the Holy Spirit’s abiding tug on my reins and my willingness to follow Him as we go. He, therefore, must be my wisdom and my witness, indeed my humility as well as my boldness, the sword His to swing, not mine. Anything less may be well-meant, but prone to error….
We rode over to Chic-fil-A this afternoon to support Dan Cathy’s right to espouse his own religious point of view. The drive-thru was packed, automobiles wrapped around the building twice and then continuing maybe another thousand feet from the entrance. We parked and walked over, thinking perhaps our two-thirty arrival to avoid such a crowd would find breathing room inside. The line began about thirty feet from the door, then once inside turned to the left, circled a small alcove to return to the door only to cross to a larger alcove on the other side and circle it before finally reaching the counter. It took us forty-five minutes to get some great food, pleasant service while enjoying some pleasant conversation with all those around us as we went. It probably won’t get much coverage in the news, but this, to me, is how to do what I tried to say above. No need to replicate the other side’s action and boycott those businesses who disagree with us. I applaud my wife who responded to some woman’s vulgarity in attacking another about this issue this morning on Face Book. “The difference in us,” she said, “ is not so much our opinion, as it is the language we use in expressing it.”...