Tuesday, October 30, 2012


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

Monday, October 29, 2012


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

Sunday, October 28, 2012


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

Friday, October 26, 2012

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

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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

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

Saturday, October 20, 2012

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

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

Friday, October 19, 2012

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

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

Thursday, October 18, 2012

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

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

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

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

Monday, October 15, 2012


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

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012


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

Friday, October 12, 2012


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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


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

Saturday, October 6, 2012


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

Friday, October 5, 2012


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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Sesame Street........................."

The Sunday evening service at church featured an appearance by CeCe Winans, which means, if prior experience holds any water, the sanctuary was packed to over-flowing and the volume on the music coming forth was turned up to ear-splitting. To each their own. This old man, however, had no desire to go. I ask myself sometimes if aging has somehow turned me into a grump; but surely, if that were so, the condition would involve more than just a dislike of where Pentecost has gone since the mid-eighties. In helping my granddaughter write a report on Mark Twain, we learned the famous author, a Presbyterian, held little respect for Christianity at large, noting “The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilled.” He believed (or so he said at one time) in an almighty God, but not in messages, revelation, or the Holy Scripture. His theology evolved out of his own experiences and the suffering that his family knew. He could not bring himself to accept Hell as a possibility awaiting some men. His problem, as I see it, was his probable lacking of a born-again connection, birthed in a childhood religious routine that failed to ground him in something greater than a mental totem pole carved out of his own understanding. We all change as we journey down the path. My own doctrinal thinking differs greatly from where I stepped into this back in ’72; but, while much that the church taught got adjusted by life as it came to me, that which initially stepped into me, took up residence within me, has kept me anchored in the midst of the storm. He, alone, not my mental concept of who He is, remains my faith. When “grouchy” sits up, the Holy Ghost tends to grab him by the seat of his trousers and remind him he’s not the only guy in the pew……

Monday, October 1, 2012


For the second time in as many weeks, the granddaughter and I have been reading Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”, eleven chapters each setting, McKenna answering her teacher’s questions as we go. While there is this sense of having watched the movie somewhere back there, this might just be my initial excursion into the book, itself; and, in truth, even though my early years knew such language from some in our family, it makes me somewhat uneasy for my grandchild to be bombarded with that offensive term so many utilized in addressing African Americans. I would be lacking, however, if I didn’t confess to always needing to pause before voicing that latter tag considered “ethnically correct”. To me, they’ve always been “blacks”; and, in hearing how we’re noted in their vernacular, this old man wonders why it isn’t a reciprocal matter. Indeed, isn’t the real offense found in the manner we speak to each other and not in cultural linguistics? If a man wants respect, shouldn’t he give it as well? Surely, on both sides of the fence, it would be best, not to dismiss the past, but to at least come together in an attempt to recognize: underneath our skin, we all are one… In class Wednesday evening, I spoke of it often being hard to visualize all these Old Testament characters as being anything other than almost prehistoric in their identity. The story books always picture them, from early on, dressed in linen robes of some sort; and that could well be, although Adam and Eve were divinely supplied in the Garden with animal skins to cover their nakedness. It remains a mystery as to when “fashion” came into the picture. Does that make the early members of humanity “knuckle-dragging, club-wielding cavemen, though”? Not in my opinion; but I do believe they lacked, not intelligence, but most certainly knowledge, the world around them an enigma in many ways. Thousands of years down the road, that which we are has changed only in those discoveries made along the way. I differ from them only in a brain that has accumulated information unknown to them. That doesn’t make me smarter, just better equipped for life as it comes to me. It yet remains, however, that each of us, from Genesis unto Judgment, will one day be held accountable for the journey……