Sunday, December 30, 2012


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

Friday, December 28, 2012


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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


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

Sunday, December 23, 2012


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

Saturday, December 22, 2012


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

Friday, December 21, 2012


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

Monday, December 17, 2012

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012


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

Saturday, December 15, 2012


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

Thursday, December 13, 2012


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

Sunday, December 9, 2012


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

Saturday, December 8, 2012


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

Thursday, December 6, 2012


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

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Chance and Circumstance....."

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

Saturday, December 1, 2012


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