Monday, October 14, 2013


“The genius of a composer is found in the notes of his music; but analyzing the notes will not reveal his genius. The poet’s greatness is contained in his words; yet the study of his words will not disclose his inspiration. God reveals Himself in creation; but scrutinize creation as minutely as you wish and you will not find God any more than you will find the soul through careful examination of your body.”… Lewis Thomas

It’s early Monday morning here, the final piece of a four-day weekend served by the school system as our Fall Break this year. Our visit to the Detention Center yesterday fell a bit “flat” for me, one of those where you wonders afterwards if anything said to the kids really connected; and then the evening service at church came to me in much the same manner, my own mood, no doubt, much to blame. Life, it seems to me, even in Christ, remains a journey wherein a man’s relationship with his Creator comes to him as a personal puzzle, his own humanity as much a part of the mystery as anything else. What we get in this, if my own experience means anything, is a stumble through the fog, the Bible given for our roadmap, the Holy Ghost an anchor-line connection affirming our faith; and quotes like the one shared above simply represent someone else’s search for truth. Here’s another one from a lesbian author with a Pentecostal heritage:

“Now that physics is proving the intelligence of the universe, what are we to do with the stupidity of mankind? I include myself. I know that the earth is not flat, by my feet are. I know that space is curved, but my brain has been condoned by habit to grow in a straight line. What I call light is my own blend of darkness. What I call a view is my trompe-l’oeil. I run after knowledge like a ferret down a ferret hole. My limitations, I call the boundaries of what I know; and I interpret the world by confusing other people’s psychology with my own.”…..Jeanette Winterson

Or how about this one:

”If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”… Baba Ram Dass

That one makes me smile. This one makes me think:

"It is a strange and frightening discovery to find that the sacrificial life that Jesus is talking about is the giving up of our chains, to discover that what binds us is also what gives us comfort and a measure of feeling safe. Change, while it has promise, will take from us something we have found sweet. The image we have of ourselves may keep us from wholeness, but it has come very satisfying compensations. There are dividends in being known as the one for whom nothing ever works out. It is never easy to lose the paradise of one's innocence and to have to struggle with growing up and being held accountable for one's own life. There are all kinds of anxieties in having to leave the land one knows and be on one's way toward a strange land. No wonder Jesus comments so often on the people who look and look, but see nothing, and hear and hear, but do not understand. If we really saw, and really heard, we might turn to Him and become involved with a migrant people who may have no place to lay their heads when night comes."....

I turned seventy-two yesterday and have been following His tug on the other end for over four decades, His reality an assuredness secured via that initial encounter and never questioned since. The enigma of it all, however, His grace, His patience, my stagger, continues to entertain my existence, always taking me to the same place, be it indeed some secluded spot outdoors or just a quiet time occasional found in some corner of my home. Verification is internal, eternity spanned within at an oasis re-established through Calvary’s Cross……

Saturday, October 12, 2013


My pastor from Pensacola has been in this area for the past week, deer hunting with another friend while his wife visits the local department stores, her own quarry less evasive. Several of us gathered for dinner at a local restaurant last night, conversation at one point turning to his church enjoying tremendous growth and I listened to him speak of the Spirit having opened his eyes to a change in their identity. For too long the building and the bunch (speaking in terms of the faith in general) has presented to the world an image of themselves, the “chosen few”, the “petite elite”, a membership requiring one’s permission to be cloned. What if, without rejecting Christ “in” me, believers actually made themselves a vessel for the Holy Ghost, the yeast in humanity’s mess, a witness that gave grace rather than condemnation, His compassion, along with truth, reaching far beyond a sanctuary dedicated to our individual passions, a place where the main focus wasn’t on “us”? He spoke of testimonies shared, of his understanding being enlarged to see how the “four Seder cups of sanctification, deliverance through judgment, redemption, and restoration” weren’t just Jewish ceremony, but also part of our own journey, as well, renewable unto us as we go, the source of such gifts established within us through the Cross. I suggested to him that “connection” was a keyword here, there being a continual need to verify our position, all of us with a potential drift into taking grace for granted. He agreed. The puzzle, though, remains the puzzle, this walk with the Holy Ghost one where we remain on this side of the veil, no matter who we are or what we think we have gained through revelation. The best we get is the hem of His garment, a dip in the pool here and there, His promise confirmed as we keep on keeping on. Somehow, some way, I hope to express that to the kids at the Detention Center tomorrow morning……

Friday, October 11, 2013


I awoke yesterday morning, lying there in comatose state, the chorus of an old song heard on “Dancing with the Stars” while passing through on my way to the computer now running through my brain. “They call me Cuban Pete, I’m the king of the rhumba beat. Just hear me go chic-chica-boom, chic-chica-boom, chic-chica-boom”. Weird to me, not just what the mind entertains at times, but also what our spirit creates and accepts for truth. Two women are assigned to monitor the kids’ during lunch at school, mostly a matter of keeping the noise down to a reasonable level and eradicating any food fights, a job not without a fair amount of stress attached to it. Jokingly, I asked one of them yesterday what she would do if, upon being granted entrance through the Pearly Gates, St. Pete assigned her to working the noon meal period in Heaven’s Elementary school and her laughter sparked conversation with others as to what it would really be like when they get there. A couple of them mentioned a Bible verse; but, when queried, were unable to give any further explanation as to what the words expressed. Finality, of course, remains a state yet to bed discovered, the immediate future not all that clear to us either, and the past a lesson all too soon quickly forgotten. Still, it does seem to me that, with the opposite side of eternity being a possibility as well, it might behoove us to investigate the subject to the best of our ability, not just merely continue down the course humming whatever tune is stuck in our head…..

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Dropping by the old “Internet Monk” site the other morning, I discovered a log-post written by a fellow who “pastors” a retreat camp somewhere in the hills of New Hampshire. His fidelity must belong to those formal mainline Protestants, having labeled the rest of us as (a) liberals who can be counted on to fit their ever shrinking theology into the latest intellectual fashions, and (b) evangelicals who “package the Gospel in the latest pop culture, so that it’s hard to tell whether you’re worshipping, attending a rock concert, or are part of some sort of weird reality show”. Using an analogy where both offenders are riding horses in what he calls “the great American parade”, he likens his own bunch to those people who have to follow behind with brooms and shovels, cleaning up the manure dropped along the route. It’s a good bet, though, that at least some of those accused of “equestrian littering”, if asked, would merely attest to him having the positions reversed, they doing their best to clean up his mess. I’m reminded of a local Church of Christ radio broadcast several decades ago where doctrinal questions posed by listeners were answered, the half hour immediately afterwards the utilized by a small Baptist assembly to refute everything said. Reaping what they sowed, however, somewhere along the way the schedule was changed and the whole affair was turned around, the latter now being corrected by the former. Seems to me, nonetheless, that that there is, indeed, something that smells bad within the whole ecclesiastical affair. It’s called “humanity”; and the best we can do about it is honesty combined with a stronger dose of “Holy Ghost in me”. I’ve, no doubt, been guilty in my own walk of pointing my mouth at where others have gone the Gospel. In truth, we’ve stretched the simplicity of it into a three-ring circus that needs some healthy criticism at times; but surely, if anybody at all is back there dealing with our exhaust, it is the same One who goes before us trying to adjust us in our stumble down the path. It’s called “grace”; and thank God for it…..

(the link to “Monk” is on my sidebar)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Early Tuesday morning here with some quiet time still before me, my normal departure for school still more than an hour away. The weekend was a gray dismal event with enough hard rain to threaten us with the nearby creek and neither church service doing much to minister to this old man. The latter well might have been my own fault, though, if the pastor’s sermon can be believed, rejoicing simply a matter of doing it whether you feel it or not. While there is some truth to our needing to maintain an attitude allowing flow, my own theology sees “joy” as an inner condition held in a relationship with the Holy Ghost, one not necessarily demanding an enthusiastic participation in the program set before you. Freedom to worship, it seems to me, carries with it the liberty to let it come forth of its own accord, the event an encounter in and of itself, not a product manufactured from a formula. We, within Pentecost, can be guilty sometimes of attempting to create our own move of the Spirit. It’s a truth that has been with us long before we began broadcasting the entire evening live over the internet; and, in a way, it’s understandable, I suppose. Call it a thirst to know again that which you’ve experienced before, a strong desire to know His presence thick in your midst. Humanity can be a factor in both achieving and hindering that union, the key, in my opinion, however, simply a spirit willing for it to happen. It doesn’t take noise, nor fervor, nor contrived praise. If the heart is right, if the attitude’s not set in concrete, there is a place where two become one, a gift made possible through Christ; and visiting that oasis on a regular basis is vital in this journey….

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Wednesday evening Bible study was another good one, although mostly we merely remained occupied with the same topic of struggling to keep our identity instead of allowing Christ to reshape us as we go. I was struck by the teacher’s account of his going home last week only to find himself pondering those things discussed in class concerning the Pope’s interview. He didn’t claim any definite influence from God in the matter, but spoke of the Gospel story where Jesus wrote in the sand before those accusing a woman caught in the act of adultery. A question lay heavy on his mind, “What if it had been two of the same gender, guilty of sexual sin, who were brought there before Him? Would His response have been any different?” We all agreed that neither the condition set as to who could throw the first stone nor the final judgment would have been altered if thus was the case. “Do we, then, as believers who are prone to elevate one offense over another,” he asked, “tend to strain at gnats while swallowing camels?” The room was silent only momentarily before someone reinforced their opinion on the original topic… The interchange, however, took my own thoughts elsewhere, another statement issued unto men and maybe the real “meat” of what Scripture is trying to teach us, “our humanity” being the “cross” we are to pick up in following Him. It affects all of us, history, environment, weaknesses, and just plain bad choices creating our identity, some of us luckier than others. What’s wrong is wrong, of course; but if it can be said that “sin”, in truth, is “not facing the Creator with who and what we are”, transgressions merely an outward evidence of our neglecting that process, then perhaps we might be closer to the actual message of the Cross. Clearly the New Testament declares that a man will one day receive grace even as he, himself, has given it, will stand condemned even as he, himself, has judged others. The Holy Ghost in me is not a confirmed ticket through the Pearly Gates, but an anchor-line leading me to a mirror, a daily process needed as I go……

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Thump Thump............"

Beth and I did little last night other than purchasing some groceries in the new Kroger’s, a huge expanse offering far more than just food. She gets lost, has already done battle once with the deli over an error on their part, and wanted me along on this occasion merely for support. Points for what we buy giving us money off our next visit to the gas pump keeps her coming back, her heart still with the smaller proprietor just up the hill from us. Returning home, though, she occupied herself with making a pot of vegetable soup and I piddled around on the computer, “Dancing with the Stars” not my choice of entertainment. Just another day in the neighborhood. Too easy to lose one’s enthusiasm with life. Two old fogies sharing an existence. Christ, however, gives meaning to it all, purpose not just a matter of ministry, reaching out to the kids at the Center and sharing with the men at the mission. Within this old man is a well whose water, since birthed over four decades ago, has never run dry. It is with me in the journey, whether circumstances find me discouraged, disappointed, full of questions, or just plain bored. If retirement from this Elementary Special-Ed job becomes a reality next year, I am not at all ill at ease about whatever the future holds. The beat goes on, as Sonny and Cher once put it, my body growing older, but the melody within my heart is unending, the adventure not over yet……

Monday, September 30, 2013


With but a couple of chapters of that Brian McLaren book yet to be digested, it almost seems like the author has been with me the past few days, the focus of his reasoning emerging in my life via both the Wednesday evening Bible class and that request given me by my young Catholic friend to read the Pope’s interview. Sunday evening service was powerful. I’m not sure it had been pre-designated over the internet as especially given to prayer for the sick, but some had driven great distance to be there and worship had brought the congregation to a point of great expectation. It is part of who we are in Pentecost. The reality of God’s Spirit healing, delivering, and moving in our midst is a matter witnessed many times over more than four decades within such ranks; but it is also true that the freedom allowed within the sanctuary can be abused, indeed, in my opinion, in more ways than one. On the other side of that coin, yesterday morning was our scheduled visit to the Youth Detention Center, no music but one song shared with the help of an accompaniment track, my son-in-law doing a couple of solos on his saxophone. It was an hour of testimonies and story-telling, our hope of reaching these kids with the message of “Christ in me” believed better received this way, the sixty minute sermon on “You’re Going to Hell!” employed by the fellow who bequeathed me this ministry not where I wanted to go. This is not “church”, though, not in the sense of a common doctrinal belief or a corporate bonding of an internal faith. Those who sit in this arena have little permission to move or speak at all, the Holy Ghost “restricted” (for lack of a better term) and any Spiritual connection established identified only by this “changed look” you can see on their face, a tear forming in a corner of their eye. Whether sitting in the balcony and watching where my bunch has taken evangelism or talking to incarcerated kids held prisoner in a gymnasium, though, it all comes down to “touching the hem of His garment”. It is He who puts “life” into living, grace into our humanity, reason into that which sometimes makes a man wonder about it all. That much hasn’t changed since I found Him forty-one years ago in my own living room, His peace a well restored unto my soul……

Friday, September 27, 2013


The homosexuality issue that came forth in Wednesday evening’s Bible study was birthed out of a woman having read an article in Time magazine concerning a recent interview with the Pope. As it was, the young Catholic fellow who supervises our Special-Ed unit had just encouraged me earlier that day to examine the same interview, but he was persistent in his request for me to do so via America magazine rather than the other. The news media any more, of course, is biased and much like buying a book. Whatever the subject, it’s not hard to find one that feeds you the “facts” flavored to pamper your own personal perspective. After digesting both sources, however, like my buddy, I prefer the latter, it simply giving you the dialogue in its original state, injecting no political comments and leaving me to draw my own conclusions. My friend at church determined it “signs of the end”, the Vatican turning liberal and vacating what few things she might have held in common with them. What I heard was a man pursuing the mind and heart of God, bold enough to stand in faith, admitting his unworthiness and willing to trust Him for what was beyond his inability to know. If he pronounced no judgment on the matter, it is just as true that he gave it no pardon, merely proclaiming believers might be better off searching for the voice of God in their own life than standing on some corner with a bullhorn shouting hellfire and brimstone on all those who don’t line up with their group’s view of the Book. No; I haven’t abandoned my Pentecostal roots. I’m not lighting candles. I’m not singing in their choir. Do they have choirs? It just seems to me that what we’ve got here could well be the Holy Ghost, the Spirit speaking to all of us; and it might profit us to at least take it to prayer before we pronounce “anathema”……

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Wednesday evening Bible study was about as good as it gets, the only thing missing being some point where the Spirit overflowed the vessel we provided, His presence manifesting itself giving concrete evidence of that fact. That’s not to say He wasn’t there, only that the “fourth man in the fire” chose to remain incognito on this occasion. Neither is it meant to suggest that our class was without error, in this old man’s opinion. The teacher was using Acts, Chapter Fifteen, for a focus on “the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”, pointing to Christ having equated the doctrine of those religious Jews to being filled with yeast, and asking if Christianity today wouldn’t be found guilty of the same charge. All were agreed in the affirmative, discussion not just involving what we considered such matter within other members of the ecclesiastical body, but within Pentecost as well, mostly, however, looking at the latter’s view of “holiness”, not so much its interpretation of the Word. Funny how, when it comes down to “translating the Covenant”, we think ourselves infallible. This, for me, was made quite evident when, near the end of our ninety minutes, Steve asked us to list what we considered to be concrete Scriptural demands regarding salvation. While he was fishing for the “ye must be born-again” answer, what he got was several other items like “giving grace to others”, “a valid recognition of just who the Holy Ghost is”, and (of all things) “homosexuality is sin”. I gave no comment concerning that last one, agreeing with the statement, at least in so far as it not being part of God’s original plan, but was pleased that another spoke of her own learned manner of dealing with those individuals was to “just be Jesus”. Humanity will remain humanity, both in and out of the sanctuary; but, when you boil it all down, surely there is no better way to put it than that……

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Send in the Clowns......."

Brian McLaren, in “A General Orthodoxy”, defines missiology as study within theology, the latter being a discipline within Christianity, one wherein the church is on a mission reflecting its message, its identity, and its meaning. If those last three items equate to the reality of Christ “in” me, then surely it can also be said that all too often we fall short of our mission, our humanity surfacing enough to obscure the picture we proclaim. I say that, not in some accusation of hypocrisy, but merely expressing the situation as it is. People remain people, regardless of a born-again experience, the real factor in this a matter of that which Jesus spoke to the woman at the well: they that worship God must do so “in spirit and in truth”. It’s okay for us to exist in the image that He created just as long as we are willing to “pick up that cross” and make an honest effort to become a vessel through which He might make known His marvelous grace unto others. In my opinion, it is not so much our flawed condition that builds a wall between us and the Almighty as it is a hard-headed refusal to face Him with the facts. While “neither death, life, angels, principalities, nor powers” (and the list goes on) can separate us from His love, yet we, ourselves, possess free will to reject that which is freely given; and such be the case whether “we” be individual or corporate. Grace continues to amaze me, in both scenarios. It is, though, just a journey, a story unfolding, one where, in the end, we all kneel before Him to examine our performance; and, in that day, the real prize remains what it always was: Did we really know Him or merely a theology we, ourselves, pieced together out of the Book?....

Sunday, September 22, 2013


This past Thursday was “Picture Day” at school, our Special-Ed unit, in hopes of catching a good pose before panic set in, directed to the gymnasium to be among the first to face the camera. Assembling all six kids in a corner of that location while the teacher handled the paperwork, in spite of there being two kindergarten classes also going through the process and a heavy rain pounding on the roof above us, I managed to keep tranquility until they called us to the photographer nearest the entrance. Noises affect our bunch, though, and only a curtain divided us from gym students enjoying some sort of game on the other side, loud music, rather than a whistle, being utilized as a timer. It all proved too much. One boy is quite big for a Fourth Grader, was obviously upset, sat for us on the stool, but exhibited more panic than a smile, and then lost it just as I was about to lead him away. In frustration more so than anger, he grabbed both of my wrists, digging fingernails deep enough into my flesh to draw blood. My response was to merely cover his ears with my hands, calm his emotions, and withdraw him from the chaos. The incident was just another day in the neighborhood, part of learning to see things from their perspective, learning to love the spirit trapped within the physical circumstances. It’s not always easy. These are yet youngsters with little self-discipline in their life, reaction often coming when they don’t get that which they want along the way. Nonetheless, we become a small “family”, rules established and enforced, a bond between us growing as we go. Beth and I left the hospital the other night, having gone there after dinner to see a friend, my clothes still the same ones worn all day and, as we walked down the hallway, she behind me at one point, she asked what was all over the back of my shirt. Immediately an image of that same fellow popped into my mind, him having a habit lately of approaching me from behind when I’m stooped down tying someone else’s shoelaces or picking up an object dropped on the floor, giving me a hug and laughing as he buries his head between my shoulders. It goes with the job. Getting out of the Navy after ten years was merely “coming home”, the change in life-style never regretted. Retiring from the railroad after three decades was like walking out the door and never looking back, a position occupied to pay my bills. This one, however, is different. It will be hard next June to drive out of that parking lot knowing I’m leaving it all behind me for the last time. This one…has been fun

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Early Saturday morning here, daylight a wet, gray image outside my front door, a drizzly rain owning this area at the moment. Beth and I, after having dinner at Cracker Barrel, drove across the river to Cincinnati last night, finding all the traffic trying to escape the inner-city worse than the rush hour madness encountered on the Interstate. It’s been more than a decade since our last visit to University Hospital, the surrounding area having changed in many ways and my locating it once again a matter of navigating a vehicle-packed maze. A friend, however, was in a recovery unit, having survived his motorcycle accident Thursday (not wearing a helmet), but first reports not giving great promise about his future. Finding him awake, cognizant, and holding an intelligent conversation in spite of what the doctors’ expectations had given, therefore, was a pleasant surprise, something like Rhoda, I suppose, finding Peter knocking at the door while the group inside were praying for his release from prison. In truth, life is a mystery, even “in” Christ, the weather outside presently reflecting the facts: seasons come; seasons go; what we get in this is an anchor-line if we are but willing to accept it and trust it as security for our soul. I’m re-reading Brian McLaren’s “A Generous Orthodoxy”, the subject matter an attempt to unscramble the theological mess we have created in the Church, his efforts failing, as far as I’m concerned, humanity remaining humanity and religion being religion. A journey of more than four decades within this has taught me that following Him is “from faith to faith”, a walk through the fog, a stumble corrected by an occasional encounter with the hem of His garment. It’s kind of like enjoying a pleasant time of worship this past Wednesday evening with the men at the mission, His Spirit there in our midst, but me, nonetheless, in a bit of a funk driving to school on the morrow, feeling dry and void of Him, unworthy of ministry, my “everyday” not always a victory achieved. Somewhere in the middle of my mood, though, an old Andre Crouch tune came up out of my inner depths and there, alone in my old Toyota, the old man began to sing: “I thank God for the mountains, I thank Him for the valleys, for every storm He’s brought me through…” Tears ran down my face; two became one; and, while still voicing the lyrics, a thought ran through my mind: “This point, this well, this fountain”. Never mind all the questions, all the chapter and verse images we have created to contain Him, all the unknown ahead of us, around us, a history we regret and can’t explain. The connection, once established, removes all doubt. Amazing grace……

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Turning seventy-two in about three weeks hasn’t slowed me down much in so far as “being a participator”, involving myself in activities other than vegetating in front of the television. It is true that a nerve problem, lately, has affected the ease with which I get in and out of a car, giving me the appearance of Walter Brennan for a few moments after an exit. Otherwise I’m still active, completing a Five-K walk against breast cancer with two of my daughters this past weekend. This is my twelfth year working in an Elementary Special-Ed unit, but admit to seriously thinking about retirement, at least from this sort of physical exercise. Our visits to the Youth Detention Center and the rescue mission remain a passion. We go tonight to the latter. Most certainly, life is not without change, but surely each day is new and waiting to be met. It irritated me a bit, therefore, when, after “Bill Nye, the science guy” finished his portion on “Dancing with the Stars” Monday evening, the two male judges slaughtered him with obvious sneers on their face and words that embraced no grace at all for his having accepted the show’s invite in the first place. The roster always has included an elder celebrity of some sort along with a few others who realize, going in, that their chance of surviving a week or so in such competition is minimal. None expect no more than a kind word or two for their courage to step out on that floor. Thankfully, Carrie Ann, the female member of that panel, ended the moment with her deep-felt appreciation for his efforts, her remarks bringing life back into the old gentleman’s face, his eyes giving evidence of spiritual resurrection. Within me, however, is left a “growl”, a wish for revenge, a hope the two acid-tongued men might somehow reap what they sow. Not good. It merely makes me what they are and accomplishes nothing other than that. Better to chalk it up to “humanity as it exists” and work on my own membership in that community. Yep. Feeling better already……..

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Beth and I spent most of the evening last Friday with an alcoholic friend whose ability to think had been reduced to nonsense. After sitting through two meetings that people attend in their fight with such addiction, we took her to the hospital in hopes of accomplishing the first step toward a recovery; but, no more than we left, she refused treatment and left. Raised in church, one of the teens this old man taught in school thirty years ago, somewhere along the way she wandered too far off course. Now, even though screaming for help, it was a “quick fix” she sought, not a hard journey down the long road back; and it makes me wonder. Within our own group of believers, the Gospel message has always been presented as a sudden transformation, instant victory over all that holds us, the only thing required to achieve it being a man’s faith. It preaches well; and, if reality falls short of such claim, error is always on the individual who fails to muster enough grit to grab the brass ring, never on the church that distorted truth in the first place. Does Christ still heal? Is there actually an Indwelling with whom we can connect and know, not just a peace in the midst of the storm, but a delivery from the human condition? God doesn’t lie! What we do with the Word, however, in teaching our own formulated thinking instead of a resurrected Savior who abides therein, can often do damage when life proves otherwise. I’m not dismissing our own accountability for the choices we make; but I am saying that, while theology is certainly a part of maintaining a relationship with divinity, it ought to be a commodity always under construction, a matter of realizing the puzzle will never be completely solved just because we’ve got a Book…..

Friday, September 13, 2013


The question of whether or not our thoughts are linguistic is yet with me, not that words aren’t a part of the process, but more along the lines of wondering if the usage isn’t simply a communicative function learned along the way. Our mentality often responds to stimulus. Someone throws a snowball and we duck without any need for conversation. Can it be then that, as the author suggested, in connecting with others we simply use that which was taught us and the practice has evolved into a piece of who and what we are? We talk to ourselves, topside, seemingly, the brain figuring into it in some manner? I’ve long thought of us as having a “computer” in our head, available to our spirit, but not always utilized to its full potential by that part of who we are. Jesus referred to men owning eyes, yet living without vision, as possessing ears, but giving no evidence as actually hearing what was being said. In our Bible class the other week, at one point we spoke of existing with a certain mind-set, life as it comes to us held in a certain perspective gained along the way and each day consumed through our own personal explanation of events. Do any of us really see any farther than the end of our own reasoning? Is it true, in a sense, as Descartes once put it, “we are only here because we think we’re here”? For me, Christ is a “resurrected Truth” who has re-connected with me via the Holy Ghost, an “anchor-line” rod-and-staff directing me in my stumble down the path. The Bible surely factors into that, but in no way do I assume myself having conquered the message in its entirety, the big question being “Faith? Faith in what?” The journey has taught me well just how much this old man can trust his own thinking. Assurance is in the next step, the next visit at the oasis in a meeting with Him……

Thursday, September 12, 2013

""The Real Deal....."

“Why don’t people leave off being lovable, or thinking that they are loveable, or wanting to be loveable, and be a bit elemental instead? Since man is made up of the elements, fire, and rain, and air, and live foam, and none of these is loveable, but elemental, man is lop-sided on the side of the angels… I wish men would get back their balance among the elements and be a bit more fiery, as incapable of telling lies as fire is. I wish they’d be true to their own variation, as water is, which goes through all the stages of steam and stream and ice without losing its head… I am sick of loveable people; somehow they are a lie.”….D.H. Lawrence, “Elemental”

The above sentiments were found, in some sort of poetic format, over at “Whiskey River” (link on my sidebar), the author unfamiliar to me before a Google search revealed him British, not all that well received by his own countrymen initially, his collected works, as evidenced here, often reflecting on humanity’s flaws. This particular quote, however, speaks to me, the idea that we all tend to “reinvent ourselves”, at least to some degree, not so far-fetched, in my opinion. Whether being “loveable” is really the focus of his objection here, though, is debatable, it seeming to me a matter of his simply looking for honesty in others; and, in truth, there is a point there where even that can be annoying. Personally, I find life more interesting, challenging, and filled with all the unknown when the other guy remains an unsolved mystery, the variation adding a bit of spice to things. If what comes forth is “genuine”, not some sloppy attempt to be what we are not, surely God can work on the rest as we go, the real solution to the whole mess being a decision for each of us to put ourselves into His hands. Just my opinion, for what it’s worth; and that brings me to the other quote discovered, this one giving me a laugh, seeing myself reasoning likewise:

”We don’t think in words. The temptation to equate thinking with language is because words are more palpable than thoughts. After all (I’m thinking), if I couldn’t talk to myself, how would I know what I was thinking?”….Edward de Bono

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


When September eleventh became ate forever burned into America’s memory, I was working the day shift at the ramp, directing the railroad crew in assembling our most important train and overseeing all the necessary administrative computer input concerning billing. While everybody else in the office was able to watch the tragedy unfold, indeed glued to the television set that suddenly appeared in our midst, this fellow had little choice but to attend to the task before him. Details came in snatches, a momentary glance now and then as someone would gasp or cry in horror, conversation otherwise at a minimum, it being too much for the mind to put into words. Whether such forced detachment is responsible for how I’ve always viewed the attack, I know not; but, in truth, it was never considered in my mind as Muslim oriented, the terrorists no different to me than McVeigh bombing the Federal Building in Oklahoma. If religion was involved, surely it was a misguided faith, a warped mass rather than one individual, but no less an insanity in either commission; and, in realizing that, it gives me much concern to learn Islam is growing in this country faster than Christianity, already outnumbering several denominations. Can we trust such change if it enters into our politics enough to eventually control our government, conquering us in D.C. without a shot, no weaponry whatsoever other than the ballot box? Far out? Maybe; but not so much that it couldn’t happen and who’s to say it’s not the very thing needed to awaken the Church at large, persecution having served it well in the beginning. Food for thought to those who have ears to hear……

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


My pastor’s Sunday morning sermon reached from the birthing of the early Church to a “State of the Union” address concerning where we sit today. Where he got his calculations from is beyond me, but supposedly, once the Apostle Paul started evangelizing, Christianity quickly conquered 50% of the known world. Putting that, however, into Biblical perspective, his message proposed that, in “these latter days”, we would once again know such growth, but it would come only by experiencing the same persecution suffered by those saints. Indeed, as he saw it, believers needed to place themselves under what he called “the Spirit of restraint”, a phrase self-manufactured, but arising from that verse in 2nd Thessalonians where the writer speaks of “the mystery of iniquity” already being afoot and “he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way”. I can agree with his identifying that latter portion with the Holy Ghost and have no problem with labeling the Comforter as a means of defense against the evil presently rampant among us; yet when he isolates the whole affair in terms of people achieving some state of “holiness” via an abandonment of “worldliness”, I find him coming up short on what it means to “held in check” by the inner connection we possess in Christ. He, and He alone, sanctifies me, empowers me, and guides me in the next step; and, in times like this, when all around us multiple voices shout in the wilderness proclaiming their own version of “truth”, His anchor-line is the salvation of my soul. If I’m hearing His voice above all else out there, the details will work out as we go……

Monday, September 9, 2013


My daughter has enlisted me again to join her team that will be participating in the annual five kilometer jog/walk raising support for the battle against breast cancer. She was lucky to have discovered its attack on her early enough a few years back, a month or so of treatments plus regular check-ups giving her hope of a long life. Others were not so fortunate, death not the only threat this disease imposes. In reading a friend’s blog recently, a woman with a tale to tell concerning her own journey down this path, I took note of some advice shared from a book just devoured. The author presented three “facts”, theories developed from childhood, but still being shaped through experience, a crisis of any sort tending to make us re-examine the evidence. The first, the idea that we’re in our present calamity alone, whatever it may be, speaks truth to me, at least in the sense that “free will” is more than just a relationship held with our Creator. Nobody else can manipulate our mind. The choice is always ours to make, although it does appear that some of us are more easily led than others. Her next two points seemed, to me, linked together, suggesting that identity is always under construction, living better accomplished by forging a future rather than dwelling in the past. Within the context of such thought, though, was a reference to “generous people, true practical saints, some of them boring as root canals” who are always eager to advise your best path. I’ve known a few of those well-meaning types and no doubt, along the way, at one time or another, have fallen into such classification, this journey, for all of us, a lesson learned as we go. It might help, however, if the Church better taught its flock that ministry is more than being an “imitation” of Christ. We are vessels meant to produce the “real deal”, His Spirit alive within us, flowing from us, and accomplishing the task at hand. He, alone, is the Balm of Gilead……

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Discussing politics is not where I usually go with my thoughts, although my wife lives with Fox News almost always invited into our living room. Bill O’Reilly, Hannity, and The Five are like family. Usually a book and the recliner have my attention. If it turns into Jerry Springer, though, my computer is on the other end of the house waiting to rescue me from heated debate about the present state of this nation. It’s not that I don’t care, more like I want intelligence, not argument between a lawyer, some celebrity, and a party-minded politician. It seems to be where cable has taken us, however, National Enquirer on every channel, choose your personal slant on things and one or the other will provide it. Even sadder: the subject that feeds this mess, our government, as it exists today, is void of much that originally provided balance. One wonders if the foundation will hold. A man could point his finger in any direction and declare delirium, of course, his target but depending on personal opinion, his voice just another loud noise coming forth out of the mass; so I speak here only because occasionally the stupidity just overwhelms me. Surely the situation in Syria has our attention. What humanity does to humanity gives question as to how much higher than other animals do we really think ourselves to be. Any intercession on our part, nonetheless, will achieve nothing to remedy the chaos, the Muslim mindset in that part of the world strongly locked in its own agenda. Then, again, when I hear Secretary of State, John Kerry, tell Congress that we’re not “going to war”, we’re merely “dropping a few well-placed bombs” on appointed sites, it makes me wonder how much of the brain our own elected officials utilize. Would we, I ask myself, view it from the same perspective if some foreign body pin-pointed two or three selected sites here for destruction? Who puts these people into office? The only thing that gives me peace is an inner sense that nothing is beyond His ability to control. My wife just walked through and I asked her if she had any idea for a good sentence to finish this. She suggested “This is the end”; and, actually, it could be as close to the truth as it gets……

Saturday, September 7, 2013


My return to school has, as usual, reduced the frequency of how often this space reflects my thoughts, putting them down in print, for me, not just some Facebook post announcing my location and current activity. In truth, I’ve attempted at least two different paths this past week only to discard the subject entertained, all sense that it might be of interest to anyone else having dissolved along the way. Truth, it seems to me, anyway, is a rather “middle-of-the-road” item, a line so thin it’s nearly invisible, the slightest step to either side taking you a degree off center. God, only, is absolute. The best any of us achieve, in any attempt to pursue Him, is a stagger. Even so, I go. Dante, the author of “Inferno”, wrote of coming to himself “in a dark wood where the direct way was lost”, a fear “scarcely less bitter than death” gripping him at some point in his life and he having need to tell the whole story, the good and the bad, if he was to tell it at all. He was Italian, Catholic, I assume, and his faith a matter not known to me. This old man lost “fear” when Christ stepped inside my existence, but the idea of yet questioning one’s position, of yet questioning the journey in so far as your own humanity, the Church at large, and the world around you, is a daily matter. I walk with caution, trusting in the anchor-line provided. “Self”, however, too often has proven unreliable. That squirrel recently encountered crossing four lanes of expressway in panic yet remains mentally framed, an image of him having conquered that stretch, but now with his back to the wall, hands glued to that divider and trying to determine what to do next for some reason amusing to me. The tale, no doubt, will go with me on both of our next ministry outreach visits. Who among us hasn’t, at one time or another, known such predicament? “Grace”, though, is stuck in my brain, another word for the Holy Ghost, as far as I’m concerned, its Greek New Testament roots translated in the rear of my Bible as “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life” and its reality, for me, a point of encounter, a promise given if connection is maintained. That “hook in my belly” holds, having proved itself to me again and again. It’s not taken for granted, this space but one form of prayer closet where the details of the moment are examined……

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Monday morning I stood in Bob Evans talking with an acquaintance known to me only through our mutual habit of dining in that particular restaurant. The entranceway was packed with people waiting to be seated and, he being the pastor of a small Baptist church, about forty members to be exact, conversation turned to life within an ecclesiastical community. It lasted no longer than about ten minutes, not enough time for us to cover such subject in detail; but, people being people, the scenario doesn’t change all that much, whether membership is counted by tens or ten hundreds. My own experience has known three different assemblies during the course of over four decades, one an inner city outreach in the “ghetto” area of Cincinnati, one a refuge attempted for ten years when my spirit festered from various issues encountered over time through a relationship held with the third. How Catholicism works is beyond my perspective; but even if the overall picture isn’t quite the same, humanity remains humanity. Whether immersed or sprinkled, Christ “in” me in no way eliminates the condition. ”Church”, however, from the beginning, was never about super saints gathered together under one roof, unity somehow accomplished through a common credo, personalities and character instantaneously erased, conversion equating to a complete make-over. The work ordained by the Cross and the subsequent resurrection is a renewing of the original schematics, a covenant wherein we are once more vessels with an inner connection. We are “new creatures” only in the sense of having acquired that “hook-up” with the Holy Ghost and any “change” otherwise is an on-going project, a matter of His rod and staff going with us down the path. What we need to learn, if the world is to be convinced of His reality, is that an outer veneer self-manufactured out of denominational righteousness to represent the Gospel does not come close to simply walking in truth, allowing the Spirit, Himself, to emerge and be manifested in our everyday affairs. If Jesus truly conquered the grave, if God now indeed inhabits His people, the evidence should speak for itself, living water overflowing to reach beyond the sanctuary……

Saturday, August 31, 2013


When I’m driving, I’m usually focused on the immediate area in front of me, the peripheral extreme lost, my mind more concerned with the traffic on all sides. The scenery in any direction can change in a number of ways, buildings erected, torn down, businesses spring up and disappear without any notice from me unless Beth takes over the pilot position for some reason. Friday morning, however, even though just another day, the same old route automatically followed, life brought to me a laugh, a scene never before encountered, something right out of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, hard to believe unless you were there. A few hundred yards from where the Beltway meets the Interstate, with all four lanes strangely void of any car other than my old Toyota, my eyes took in a long, thin line slithering across the road. Naturally, I assumed the obvious. Wrong. Within a few seconds, the truth was unbelievable, but plain as day. It was a squirrel, his belly pressed to the ground, going just as fast as he could, looking like some soldier crawling through a battlefield with live ammo buzzing overhead. He was scared, desperate, and burning it up. Why, I don’t know. There would nowhere to go once he reached the four-foot concrete wall separating east from west; and he did make it there successfully. My own situation, though, demanded my exit and there is this mental image yet held of him standing with his back up against that abutment, his hand spread and glued as well, trying to determine his next move. The Bible tells me that His eye is on the sparrow. Surely such promise can also be applied to small grey rodents. Nonetheless, it remains to be said that His creation keeps Him busy, none of us without error and all of us prone to exhibiting that condition on a regular basis. No guarantees are given whereby we can know with assurance tomorrow we will still be here. What we can possess is His anchor-line with us in the next step. Hopefully, the next time I pass that particular spot no evidence of mishap will suggest my friend survived…..

Friday, August 30, 2013


“Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you; and, while this may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, it really is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude. Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar”

The above is a quote encountered over at “Whiskey River” (link on my sidebar), its theme giving me thought in a number of ways. Whatever image the word “altar” might bring to mind, its roots in Hebrew suggesting “sacrifice” and, in Latin, “high”, the temple in which the Jews worshipped knew two such structures, one where indeed the priest spilt blood, another where he offered the sweet smell of incense. In either location, however, the intent was worship, it was mankind in an attempt to connect with his Creator, an emptying, of sorts, a “coming naked before God” wherein one’s soul was exposed and cleansed. We’ve come to think of it in terms of bringing our “sin” to Him; but actually, when we submit ourselves to kneel in His presence, that part of our nature has already been overcome and the act is more like conceding our “mess” unto Him, our humanity as it is, whether we’re talking hang-ups, addiction, or just plain hardheadedness. Every day we live is a different scenario, each of us prone to think ourselves entitled to ownership of all the details of our existence and often, therefore, unable to deal well with change and loss. It can be a minor altering of our routine. Sometimes the hole left behind is climatic. Help comes in surrendering all things in a prayer closet, the Holy Ghost there to “take us through the veil”, to accompany us in the next step. I’m dealing at the moment with what seems to be the end of a Wednesday evening Bible class that has fed me greatly for several years. My middle daughter is experiencing her son, an only child, leaving the nest, her home suddenly knowing nothing but memories….

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The balcony was not all that inhabited during evening church service last night, so when an individual seated himself two rows behind me a few minutes before worship began, I took notice. He was about five six, late twenties, early thirties, his weight no problem, with dark black hair and beard. There was a frown on his face, a look as if being there in no way related to a wish on his part to hear the Gospel. Indeed, his presence struck me as odd; and, when I turned around a few minutes later, in-between songs, only to discover his chair now empty, his disappearance bothered me as well. It’s the world we live in. Just an old man chasing his thoughts when it was all over, but peace required an investigation of that spot, my hand exploring the area for anything he might have left behind. Nothing found. Walking downstairs, however, I would encounter him once again, this time positioned in the rear doorway of the sanctuary, his dislike of something yet quite obvious. Then, a few minutes before the sermon, our disgruntled visitor repeated his ability to suddenly vanish… A Southern Baptist, perhaps, who mistakenly walked into the wrong bunch without checking the sign out front? A fellow fighting with his wife and, driving down the road, thought a few hymns might put him in a better mood? Maybe a friendly handshake instead of a questionable stare would have encouraged his company. Hard to say. If it looks like duck, quacks like duck, though, well..., better nowadays to investigate, it seems to me, and apologize later. We spent two hours after school today discussing possible scenarios should a gunman ever decide to enter the premises. Mostly it involved discussion on barricading, evacuating, and throwing shoes, staplers, whatever’s handy, at the intruder, since defending ourselves with a real weapon isn’t yet an item available to us. I say all the above, however, convinced that the best any of us can know in this world, regardless the circumstance, is His hand upon us as we go, not as some guarantee of our escaping misfortune, but as a promise that nothing can separate us from His love. A little wisdom, of course, goes a long way. I’ll trust His rather than mine any day……

Sunday, August 25, 2013


A good friend stopped by the house yesterday, one whom nearly forty years ago sat with me and Beth on the front steps of his home as we talked of Christ, his manner revealing an influence of drugs in his system and his eyes a window into his soul. He was a “preacher’s kid”, running from “church”, but that particular night we talked of finding anchorage in something other than religion, the prodigal son discovering peace flowed from a deeper well than what he had known growing up in the sanctuary. Now he sat there with us in the living room, dealing with one of those blows that life all too often brings to us, bitterness possibly a choice in this situation, that inner connection, however, providing strength, direction, and a promise proven in the distance already covered. He spoke of seeking “that Moses experience”, that place where assurance was more than just a heart-held faith and “knowing Him” was greater than that which he felt he possessed; but, looking into those same eyes, I saw evidence of that Spiritual flame alive and well, his hunger only an indication of that fact. Yea, though I walk through the valley, Thou art with me… Late yesterday evening, then, Beth and I drove to a nearby facility where one of the “old saints” lay dying, she and her late husband part of the original bunch who birthed our assembly. Two of her children were there with her in a darkened room, she in a comatose state, “crossing over” surely close at hand. Conversation turned to memories, the family picture hanging over the bed revealing eight siblings, our common ground of knowing most of our own journey through roots established in “holiness legality” that nonetheless acquainted us with the reality of His presence in our midst. Our theologies, if examined, would reveal substantial differences. One of us spoke of Benny Hinn. My own wife and I do not agree on a number of perspectives. What none of us can deny, nonetheless, is that point deep within where heaven and earth are joined, an oasis created at the same altar years ago, one to which we have returned again and again even though time has physically moved us from the pews we occupied back then. He is “the tie that binds”, with each of us in whatever tomorrow holds……

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"The Journey............."

Two years ago, the Muslim doctor who has been giving me minor physicals for the last decade at a nearby Veterans outpost discovered a three-point jump in something my blood sample reveals to him and suddenly it seemed urgent to him for me to have a biopsy performed. I would cancel the first one scheduled, reasoning that, by Ahmad’s own admission, if recent medication might be responsible for the surge, surely a second examination of the evidence was but common sense before going “under the knife”. No outcry from anyone after a re-take led to my annual check-up twelve months later showing yet another minor rise above the first and, this time, the staff at the hospital, themselves, after telling me it was possible to “put one under” for the twenty minutes or so, negated my appointment when I requested that option. It would be six weeks before we could meet to discuss the benefit of not resorting to anesthesia and my agreement to bypass sit led to a date in June that didn’t require me missing school. My right index finger needing nine stitches to repair an encounter with a splintered, bamboo-like flower stalk brings us to yesterday’s visit, the final climax to this story. No aspirin for at least ten days prior meant no relief for the headaches that come with my sinuses. Standing on your head trying to give yourself an enema is something I wish on no one. One strawberry pop-tart washed down with a cup of coffee was my only intake until about two o’clock; and my oldest daughter rode with us, Beth not all that anxious to tackle the expressway traffic in Cincinnati. There forty minutes early for an eleven-thirty kick-off, we sat in the waiting room until nearly one. Voila! Finally escorted back to a small room and met by two doctors waiting to get my consent on a dotted line, I listened to the older fellow tell me just what about to happen; and when he noted that negative results would mean “no more surgery”, I told him that positive results would bring the same conclusion to all this. “What!” he exclaimed; “Then why do it?” Explaining the initial call for urgency and pointing to my family’s fear about what the future might hold, suddenly I hear an educated physician tell me that, at my age, having this procedure could possibly do me more harm than just taking the risk that cancer was present. He marveled that anyone prodded me in this direction in the first place. My count was not all that high to warrant it right now and there was medication available to deal with problems otherwise. My wife was brought in to hear the same speech, me wanting her to hear it right from “the horse’s mouth”, so to speak. End of saga. I sit here shaking my head and thanking God for peace in the middle of a world gone nuts. Give me prayer and His anchor-line in the next step. All else is a shot in the dark…….

Friday, August 23, 2013


Thursday morning Beth arose early to drive the granddaughter out to school and I was seated at the computer when she returned, hearing the car pull into the gravel driveway just outside. It was nearly time for my own departure, so I got up and walked to the front door to meet her, but found no one there for several minutes. When she finally did appear, she entered to announce she had just killed a snake, smashing it with a small rock! With the creek not all that far and the hill behind us being thick woods, we get visitors quite often, but the reptile variety are usually no more than of the garter variety, small and colorful. She, however, had no answer when pressed for the hue of this one, but was eager to show me her victim, following me outside and leading me to the point of contact. I saw nothing. Using her sandaled toes to point out the exact spot in the grass there beside her exit from the car, she drew my attention to a dark, thin, crooked strand of something or other which, after examination turned out to be no more than a plant root previously extracted from the nearby flowerbed… Wednesday evening’s meeting with the men at the rescue mission held no point where the thickness of God’s presence assured us of His being there in our midst, but, for the most part, it seemed that those in attendance were one with us in the message we shared. I often wonder how many Muslims are in the crowd, submitting themselves to the Gospel in exchange for a meal, such arena always a mixture of whatever walks through the door. Theologies abound, denominationally sound or not, most willing to agree on a claim of God’s existence, but the image held in their minds a matter of perspective. People “see” what they think they see, “hear” what they want to hear; and, in truth, words are a poor means of establishing contact, holding no guarantee one’s thought reaches the other end perceived exactly as originally intended. Salvation has never been merely professing faith in a few verses of Scripture, a doctrinal credo of sorts turned into an identity badge permitting passage through the Pearly Gates. Life works out the details. Reality is a lesson learned as we go. It helps if one leaves the door open, allowing His Spirit permission to involve Himself in the next step……

Monday, August 19, 2013


"Today, with a myriad of instruments, we can explore things we never imagined; but we can no longer see what is directly in front of us… The closer God is, the less means are necessary, even words becoming superfluous in speaking with Him, for the one who has no more words has found God.”… Thomas Merton

I came home from church last night, stretched out in the recliner, and finished the final few pages of that book on loan from my friend at school. It’s full of Henri Nouwen’s thoughts concerning the above author and, at times, remembering which one of the two is speaking is a challenge; but, for the small paperback that it is, it yielded two pages of quotes that will remain with me. While seldom, if at all, can the name of Christ be found within the content, yet the language used to describe the search to know the Creator more deeply than what comes to us through our theological efforts to contain Him in a box embraces much that my own journey in Pentecost has found to be true. Not that we have a lock on such commodity. Indeed, it seems to me, humanity being humanity, the vessel, whether one speaks of the individual or the institution, is prone to stumble down the path, the key in this being a commitment to remembering grace isn’t a term we define for ourselves, but a divine inner Reality asking only our permission to join us in the walk… The pastor, in the early service yesterday morning, returned to last week’s theme via a different route, our need to return to an old-time encounter with the fullness of God’s presence in our midst stressed as being something we’ve lost along the way. Blessings, we know. The Holy Ghost yet moves, salvation, healings, and baptisms occurring on a regular basis; but how long has it been since His entrance brought unto us the truth of His existence, the body faced with a compelling need to either run toward the altar or flee out the back door one? Maybe it has something to do with our having evolved into a “prosperity gospel” wherein authority is ours to claim, righteousness ours to create, and “spiritual levels” ours to conquer. Ya’ think?......

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Passing Through....................."

Saturday morning passed with breakfast at Bob’s and a trip with Beth to her hairdresser, the shop belonging to her brother and he giving me a Navy “buzz” while we were there. Returning home, however, she was still very much into rearranging the living room and I was quickly put to work. It was a couple of hours re-hanging pictures and re-positioning furniture, that latter requiring me to mount another ceiling hook for the overhead light, my recliner now in the opposite corner next to the fireplace. By six, the old man was tired. My only reason for driving out to the church was a request delivery of a few things my granddaughter needed, but the evening service the college age group holds in the youth sanctuary held me for a few moments, their worship meeting me in my mood. An inner tug, after a few songs, then took me upstairs to that larger altar area. Seated there on the front row in the pitch-black darkness, only a glimmer of light from outside filtered in through the foyer doors behind me, I sat in silence, my mind preparing a place for two to become one. It didn’t happen. No voice. No merger. Just an inner sense of “being in the doctor’s office”, a knowledge there that, on the other side of some invisible partition, He was listening. There was no disappointment in my departure thirty minutes later. The “kids” were in final prayer. My wife was waiting. The moon filled the night sky, the highway but a concrete ribbon beneath my car as my thoughts remained centered on Him. If Jesus is the “Door”, He is not one with any physical attributes, any image such term brings to us being false, our brain tending to give it substance, a wooden thickness either permitting or denying entrance. It was a veil which separated the inner court from that sacred space into which only the high priest entered once a year, the Mercy Seat there, covering the Ark of the Covenant with God’s presence hovering there above it; and, while that divisor was, indeed, a thick woven cloth, Calvary rent it, opening “a new and living way” for us to access our Creator. Contact is now more like two flames in close proximity to each other, a union achieved at His discretion as we surrender ourselves to such grace. Encounter is a privilege and not to be taken for granted. There is yet “none righteous; no, not one”. In becoming one with Him, though, He brings unto us boldness to approach the throne, the matter more of His making than ours, the “authority” all His and anything else arrogance on our part. So I believe. So I try to live in the next step, each day new to do it all again……

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"Distance Covered............."

Friday was the third attempt to “find the flow”, a schedule, of sorts, slowly emerging in spite of the fact that Special-Ed always means “patching-it-together-as-you-go”. You turn to take a student to class only to discover he has removed his shoes and socks once again. It’s time for Art, but the artist has presented a need to visit the restroom. This job could well be called “Dancing with the Stars”. Whatever its name, though, it has its moments, its perks as well as its pricks, some of that first category coming from outside our four walls. Arriving there yesterday while several buses were still unloading, I stepped into the river of kids passing through the front entrance only to experience a tug on my trousers and, looking down, saw this angelic face smiling up at me. It was Looby, my little Ukrainian First-Grader friend discovered while visiting the nurse’s station last year! A few simple words spoken to her in Russian had opened a door, the two of us merely bumping into each other from that point on, but a “bond” created and now, reaching to hug the lower part of my extremity, with eyes closed, she expressed her love. Now that can give anyone a boost, all other mental concerns just disappearing as your heart melts. Maybe this won’t be my last stroll through the educational system. It stayed with me as the day progressed, still there while loading our crew for their return home in the afternoon, and then dwindled a bit when I walked into our living room to find Beth in the middle of “Spring Cleaning”. In late August? The sofa was gone, taken to be reupholstered, all the pictures and the knick-knack shelf above it had been removed, and clearly the evening would involve work, at least to some degree. The son-in-law had been drafted to paint. My part in the affair merely came to running some errands, relocating some other furniture this morning, and re-hanging the overhead light a necessary part of the shift. All in all, serenity survived. Driving out to Kroger’s at ten last night, my mind was on Him, the Holy Ghost with me in the journey. Life is good. God is great……

Friday, August 16, 2013


My return to school brought to me the loan of a small paperback, a book written by Henri Nouwen, but the contents devoted to enlightening the reader as to the identity of Thomas Merton. Thus far it is quite full of quotes concerning solitude and contemplation, that first element not practiced by this old man to the extent of joining a monastery, and the second not yet achieved through any attempt to duplicate the method he suggests. My days, for the most part, leave little room to escape life as it comes at us, even the prayer closet, when entered, hindered by a mind swimming in random, almost frenetic thoughts and a body fatigued, any more, from the get-go. I came home yesterday afternoon, did a few chores for my wife, fell into the recliner and dozed for a half hour or so, then went to bed bedraggled, lying there in the darkness and speaking to Him in my head. I awoke this morning from a dream wherein His Spirit filled my mouth before others, the Gospel flowing from a well that had seemed dry just a few moments before. Such is my relationship with Him. In the 55th Chapter of Isaiah, the prophet admonishes Israel to seek the Lord “while He may be found”, to call upon Him “while He is near”. For me, then, it is not a matter of trying to reach a throne room located in another dimension, the universe, itself, between us. When the Trappist monk refers to an internal point of connection, it is a place familiar to me, indeed a privilege not taken for granted, entrance through that portal recognized as grace given. If I am reading Hebrews correctly, though, it is the Holy Ghost who escorts us “through the veil”; and, in making Him your life, not just an appointment, encounters do not require specific conditions to be met. He’s willing to meet you where you are, as you are, your thirst to so know Him enough to “seal the deal”. This, in fact, is “the Kingdom of God”, Christ “in” me, the fullness of that which was purchased for me via the Cross of Calvary. It’s been misused, mis-taught, and discarded altogether; but remains, nonetheless, the promise given unto the Church. The name over the door changes nothing……

Thursday, August 15, 2013


First day back to school was the usual bit of confusion: teachers’ schedules adjusted to allow for their own jump into the hodgepodge of initial odds and ends; that, in turn, causing our unit to go with the flow, finding format to it all a matter of being patient, knowing it all will come together eventually. Administration has taken away our room’s other assistant while leaving us with our same number of students; but somehow problems were minimal, the old man finding it fun to be back in the saddle, another journey begun. The worst of the mix was loading kids for their return trip home, so many parents there to pick up their children that the two-lane road out front jammed bumper to bumper, buses unable to access the loop, us trying to contain our group, their minds knowing only that it’s time to go… Evening Bible class would be the big disappointment, the teacher merely revisiting a theme wherein he has been anchored for a while, the topic rooted and grounded in the Word, but certainly not the one and only truth that Scripture sets before us. I recognize the passion, one’s eyes having been opened to an element of the Gospel previously not considered, the experience much like Christ announcing to that crowd gathered on the Mount, “You have heard it said…. But I say unto you”. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn, myself, people not usually receptive to your individual enlightenment, it taking the Holy Ghost on both ends of any sermon delivered, the message needing divine connection, not just your own emphatic pounding of the point you wish to bring. As it was, we finished twenty minutes early with little in the way of accomplishing any real discussion within the group… Whether we are on the job or seated in the sanctuary, if it doesn’t stay “fresh”, humanity occurs. I say that knowing well that some days are better than others; but also assured in the fact that He, alone, is the bottomless well, the river that never shall run dry.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


“I am not anxious to be the loudest voice or the most popular, but I would like to think that, at a crucial moment, I was an effective voice of the voiceless, an effective voice of the hopeless”………… Whitney M. Young Jr.

Kentucky State is a formerly “all black” college, its present population yet slightly tilted, percentage-wise, toward that ethnicity; and there are yet those who wrinkle their facial features when I’ve spoken of my grandson opting to accept its offer of a “full ride” scholarship there, earned via both his baseball and academic skills. They tell me his paternal grandmother is somewhat aghast concerning the decision. “Big Blue” and several others were on the table. Beth and I, however, are quite pleased, walking with him and his mother around the campus grounds yesterday, entering both the library and the student center, the two of us thoroughly impressed by the friendliness of all encountered. It’s located in Frankfort, close enough to home to allow his parents at least a sense of yet maintaining contact, its complex a mixture of buildings exhibiting modern architecture, but some displaying the history it holds. We were there an hour or so, our stroll taken to invest ourselves into his life, to express our pride in his accomplishment, and undertaken at a pace to accommodate the elderly. Dinner afterwards at a local seafood establishment with a view of the Kentucky River flowing over the dam just outside our window completed the visit. The above quote stuck with me, however, inscribed on the base of a memorial erected in honor of its author, a former graduate, the statue one of the first things our exploration discovered. While the words were initially spoken by one living in a time marked by extreme prejudice, racial bigotry still holding much of this country in its grip, I stood there letting its message sink into the depths of my own identity, believing my antiquity no reason to dismiss myself from such challenge, and trusting Steven, as he continues down the path, to likewise let such mission mark his own life. Like the Marines, God can always use “a few good men”…..

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Ferris Wheels...................."

Monday morning, with twenty minutes or so before I leave, a four hour on-line class awaiting me there that will nearly complete my annual demand for training. All staff will gather at noon in the cafeteria for a three-hour briefing, an initial indoctrination to inform us of changes in assignment, refresh us on rules of conduct, and just welcome us back, in general. Tonight is an “open house”, my presence there required only if the teacher sees need. This year is met with mixed emotions, a sense of eagerness, and yet a weariness as well. It’s good to be busy; the kids hold my heart, but the job, itself, like any other, with its share of organizational red tape… Tuesday morning, with a space to recover after fighting a computer system so bombarded by people trying to accomplish that required training, by noon we were still mired in its muddle. The overload, I suppose, would make us wait several minutes with each attempt to answer questions, abandon us in the middle of a segment so that it was necessary to completely re-enter the program, a process that brought our patience to the brink of profanity, a state overcome only by one’s humor and the Holy Ghost. The afternoon was over two hours seated at cafeteria tables designed to slowly impale whoever occupied them that long, videos, lecture, forms to sign preparing us for the leap into another run through the maze, the halls once again alive with the sound of music tomorrow. Before leaving, I learned our room has become a “synchronized” dual Special-ED unit, two classes side-by-side, a wall between with an inner archway connecting them, two teachers each with their own agenda, an assistant and two “floaters”, in truth an enigma yet to be determined successful… Today Beth and I are driving down to Lexington for a visit to Kentucky State College with the grandson who managed a “full ride” there, his baseball and academic skills earning him such honor. To say we are proud and pleased would be an understatement, but no more of him than all, my girls and the kids but the fruit from a life given unto Him. The journey remains the journey, for each of us; yet the path, no matter where we are located within it, is under His hand, the task met with a sense of His presence going with us, whether nineteen and stepping into independence, or seventy-one and daring to take another ride on the bumper cars……

Sunday, August 11, 2013


"People don't do what we want, things don't happen quickly enough, the weather doesn't cooperate, our bodies don't cooperate. Why are these moments so painful? Because our minds are focused on a static, unchanging, me-centric picture while the dynamic unfolding of a broader life continues around us. There is nothing wrong with expectations per se, as it's appropriate to set goals and then work properly towards their fruition. The instant we feel pain over life not going "my way," however, our expectations have clearly taken an improper turn. Any moment you feel resistance or pain, look for the hidden expectation. Practice giving yourself over to what "you" don't want. Let the line at the store be long. Let the other person interrupt you. Let the nervousness make you shake. Be where your body is, not where your mind is trying to take you to take you."… Guy Finley

The quote comes from the “Whiskey River” link on my sidebar and the author is a well-known self-help writer, philosopher, and spiritual teacher. His religious faith wasn’t mentioned; but, regardless, his advice shared here makes a lot of sense to me, the practice he brings forth having long been a course adopted and followed by this old man. Perfection has never been achieved. It has, though, saved me much stress along the way, especially since coming to Christ forty-one years ago and realizing that, no matter what happens, the best place to put it is in His hands. Small things become opportunities, sometimes even a door opened unto witness. Big events are out of my reach anyhow, so why not give them to Him? The hardest part of it all, of course, was learning my opinion isn’t worth much. That’s a point I still like to argue at times. Left to cook in my own brain, it tends to bubble and boil, the whole concoction festering and polluting all that I am. Religion, politics, my job, humanity at large whose manners are negligible, whose reasoning comes from another planet, their views making absolutely no sense from my perspective: The mind, for all of us, in many ways is a battlefield, one we defend, trusting our ourselves to be the best judge of truth. When we are willing to abandon that throne and enter into a relationship where He, alone, embodies all aspects of that word, peace, and grace, and resurrection begin to meet us in the next step, whatever it brings……

Saturday, August 10, 2013


My pre-school class schedule found me in a gymnasium Friday morning, seated in the bleachers with a multitude of others, about to hear but one more presentation on safety. Before us, in the middle of the floor, a huge screen containing a question about surviving this year without being killed served notice that the next two hours concerned more than simply avoiding mishaps, legal headaches, and the general welfare of all involved. We were the first, here in northern Kentucky, to be introduced to a new program educating staff as to what to do should ever their work space be threatened by an armed invader. It wasn’t rocket science. Most of the agenda simply pointed to being prepared, having a better plan for escape, and acting to reduce casualties, due to the fact that, other than fire drill, nearly all other emergency reaction has us programmed to merely seek cover under a table, or gather together in some closed space away from windows. Just how much that latter point possesses our thinking really “hit home” when we were informed that the library at Columbine actually had a rear exit door through which some kids escaped. In a sense, the loss of life in that room was due, at least somewhat, to students listening to teacher in panic, directing them to do what practice demanded… Back in the Viet Nam era, the Army Language School had assembled us in their movie theater for a lecture given by an officer of some rank, his main topic lost to me now, but one of his comments and my response, however, yet quite clear, my opinion indeed still the same. He spoke of being in the heat of battle and knowing that you were there for the love of country, ready to die for the folks at home. I was young and, when he acknowledged my raised hand, informed him that, with live ammunition flying over my head, my only thoughts would be on saving my rear end!... Call it what you want, but surely there’s a place where rubber meets the road, a time when decision is vital and the choice is whether to follow what the system has told you, or to listen to your own reasoning in the matter. Actually, I, myself, have come to a third fork in the road, an inner tug on the anchor-line, a witness from that One who stepped into my existence so long ago, His counsel always the best option. In Him I trust, regardless the need. He has not failed me yet…..

Friday, August 9, 2013

"Dead Batteries........................"

This year my annual school requirement for four days of classes that the Board of Education, itself, provides on various topics has been met almost entirely with subjects that pertain to my job. Most of it has been no more than renewing an old man’s mind concerning safety and emergency procedures, CPR basics, minor medicinal dosage until help arrives, various restraints and escapes designed to protect me and the child should an incident occur. Legality, of course, is always an issue these days. That particular point was even more illuminated to me Wednesday afternoon in a one hour question and answer period wherein the lawyer who advises our county in such matters addressed the problems of fulfilling parental “rights”. I had never before considered the truth that so many of our students come to us from situations where mom and dad are not just separated in terms of divorce or never married in the first place, but one or the other possibly in jail, both, in some cases, having abandoned the child to either a relative or foster care. Sitting there and listening to, beyond the trauma it must bring to a young mind, all the frustration it brings to society in dealing with “humanity at large, I pondered the Biblical call of Christ for us to lift up our eyes and look on the fields “already white to harvest”. Sometimes I wonder, not just how to reach a world blind to their need of Him, but how to reach, as well, a church that seemingly fails to comprehend the truth of being indwelt by the third member of the Trinity. We talked in our midweek study the other night of knowing boldness in our witness, of taking “the Word” with us into our daily affairs, sharing it with whomsoever, at the supermarket, on the job, whatever arena we occupy. It was a good lesson, built around the historical account of Paul and Barnabas. There was, however, no real exploration of hearing His voice in the matter, of recognizing Him having “opened a door”, of surrendering one’s own sense of direction to the reality of His anointing. Such aspects of who we are, as believers, in truth are learned as we go and probably without our ever arriving at some point where we walk in perfection, no error at all in the relationship; but if we fail to teach this basic foundation of our faith, if we settle for nothing more than merely cloning doctrinal disciples, what hope do we have of convincing the world He has risen? If all I possess is a theology, the vessel void of any witness from the Holy Ghost, Himself, I’m just another Pharisee pushing religion upon the masse…..

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


”What do you do when you see everything is changing around you however, you do not feel a part of what is going on and you began to feel like there is nothing for you to contribute... How do you handle change?... Do you just jump in and participate or do you start making other plans that do not contain anything that is going on around you?”

”I think it is just part of getting old. The world moves on around us and that includes the church. What doesn’t change is the Holy Ghost in me! As long as we maintain relationship with Him, He will work out the details as we go, utilizing us maybe in other ways, but always the source of renewal, refreshing, and purpose in our journey.”

The first paragraph above is a question asked on Facebook by a friend known for many years, living in Pensacola, a long-time member of an assembly there and active in its worship services. The group is in transition, however, following the Spirit in that same stumble down the road familiar to all, faith not always a clear voice from heaven, but a hand held on the other side of the veil. As this old man, in much the same struggle for the last few years, shared with her in the second paragraph, however, this part of our pilgrimage doesn’t mean we no longer have anything to give. It’s a lesson learned through distance covered, my own bunch not dismissing me as it “morphed” into another identity, but me not in sync with the image it became. One deals with guilt, not liking the inner feelings that come from a loss of being joined in various elements of who we are as a body. You question your own positioning in Christ, in some areas your Scriptural view no longer as closely aligned as it once was. For decades this has been your home, your family; and now “roots” are about all that’s left. Yet, even as I told the kids Sunday at the Detention Center, “Neither the church nor the Book is my salvation. They’re good places to go to maintain our salvation; but it is that inner re-connection with Him that keeps us as we go.” From the balcony I now watch from afar, finding such spot not isolated at all from any move of the Spirit and venturing forth on occasion to enter the flow below. Wednesday evening Bible class is a blessing, the teacher encouraging discussion and open to other perspectives. The Holy Ghost proves Himself to me along the way, meeting me in various ways, be it in ministry unto others or a personal encounter found in prayer. Tomorrow is uncertain. He will not fail me…..

Monday, August 5, 2013


”If it seems that life is all uphill and there’s no place to go. If every day’s a struggle that leaves you feeling low. Maybe all your friends left one by one and now you don’t know what to do. Well, there’s still One who understands and give His word to you.

I’ll not leave you nor forsake you. You can count on me. God has promised; and His promise is for all eternity. Though your faith seems small, His faith is all you need to pull you through. So just trust in Him and believe again, for God believes in you.”

Our return to the Detention Center Sunday morning will be remembered as something special. The number of boys had grown, around twenty-four positioned in two rows before us, but behind them sat only that same girl there with us the last time. Three guards, more than required, stayed with us; and Nan opened up with a short witness that was on her heart. Bob spoke, then, of his ho hope that they would not repeat his own mistake of wasting so many years before coming to Christ. Tony’s contribution, in truth, would but reinforce that same thought from a different perspective, the Holy Ghost with us from the very beginning, His presence slowly made more manifest with each person’s sharing. When Mark poured himself into that saxophone, it was easy for these kids to see that experiencing “oneness” with Him was possible in the here and now. The entire room, indeed, was already under His anointing at I moved my chair forward, afterwards, to bring forth the above lyrics a cappella. It was written three decades ago and rediscovered an hour or so before leaving to rendezvous with my group, my actually singing it now merely nothing but a possibility previous entertained; and the message therein carried beyond, coming more out of my belly than it did my head, pointing to having purpose in our existence, to making sense of it all through a personal relationship with Him. When one of the two young men incarcerated there for many months raised his hand, just before closing prayer, to inquire if there was anything God would not forgive, it all came together in an assurance of the whole hour being in His hands. For me, this is “church”. Anything less is just a gathering. He, alone, creates the event…..

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Yesterday afternoon I took my granddaughter and her younger brother to see the second edition of that magical mayhem known as the “Smurfs”, little blue men battling a self-centered dolt of a wizard who is bent on extracting their essence for the power it brings to him. Noah laughed to the extent of almost falling out of his seat. Other than the spells that turn men into ducks and giant toads, the plot portrays no evil in the sense of there being a “dark side”. To be truthful, it wouldn’t have bothered me if it did. I want them to understand that there is, indeed, such a force in this life, to know it in terms of how it can come against us, and to recognize that their best defense is that anchor-line given us in Christ. While it does seem to me that Hollywood fills the screen with much that adults, let alone children, shouldn’t be mentally digesting, yet my best defense against the industry’s freedom to do so is a mind connected to Him. What’s more: it is my responsibility to teach my family as we go, not by some rigid enforcement of my theology, but by acquainting them with the reality of what He brings unto us via the Holy Ghost. It is not me, “super-saint, holier-than-thou with all the answers”, that I want them to see, but the person I am, human in my existence, His indwelling my true source of life. When church becomes a fairytale, when our denominational doctrines atrophy into nothing more a belief we hold and attempt to enforce upon others, all that is left is a ritual. When His presence in our midst evolves into an encounter where there is no reverence for the event and little learned afterward of the grace we have been given, surely we must ask ourselves who is creating whom. Most certainly, it is a stumble. Kid’s, however, people in general, can deal with the facts…and grow.

Friday, August 2, 2013


My sister, about a year younger than me, flew in from just north of Miami last night, her children and a few friends meeting at Red Lobster for a late dinner. Beth and I, plus a cousin and his wife, joined them, reminiscing a bit, memories shared, the first time Peggy and Danny had talked since childhood. Nothing divisive had occurred, no feud developed along the way. Life just takes us in different directions, thousand miles of geography between people not always the reason we lose contact with each other. Saturday she is fulfilling a request, serving as the “parent-in-proxy” for another cousin who is getting married, the event not marked on my calendar, that segment of the family tree, even though scattered here locally, “living in another world” than this old man. Such remark is not meant as a reflection on their character, only to say, while family is a bond secured somehow through a “spiritual umbilical cord” of sorts, yet our individualities tend to separate us as we go. Our likes and dislikes, our beliefs and values, all play a part in this, our paths splitting and the years increasing the gap until all that remains is that connection shared, that point in your past when, as kids, camping trips and Christmas are mutually claimed. I wonder sometimes what the future will bring our six grandkids, Steven a hundred miles away since birth and experiencing this side of his relations merely on celebratory get-togethers for the most part. The two oldest are brothers, Elijah and Cody returning tonight from Honduras, their natures not all that similar, but their souls tightly linked, their relationship with the three youngest, Caleb, McKenna, and Noah, once secured through joint adventures shared from the beginning. All have been raised within the church and that environment, the reality of Christ, marks who they are. Whatever tomorrow may bring, whether time will divide them in so far as a physical location, my hope is in a Holy Ghost who is able to keep them “one” regardless of all else. There is no greater adhesive……

Thursday, August 1, 2013


”It’s one of those highways you come across late at night, no signs, no arrows, just a road running north and south. You pause. You look one way, then the other. Nothing; only the hum of the engine and the chirping of the crickets to confirm you are here. You can’t remember where you’ve been, where you are going; and, if it weren’t for the lines drawn through the middle, you’d think you were drifting down a river or stumbling down a path through the sky. Remember: It’s a moonless night. You are tired, hungry, no one to talk to, afraid what you were thinking might have come true. You look to your left again. Perhaps you see a mountain, an ocean, a lover you wish you hadn’t lost, spirits that seem so familiar drifting in the dark. You wait in that silence and it may be years before it is safe to proceed.”…..borrowed from Whisky River, link on my sidebar

My wife and I were at the mall yesterday, shopping for my granddaughter’s thirteenth birthday, the excursion purposed to a particular store whose interior was like stepping into a darkened cave, loud music giving hint of the age group attracted to their wares. The young lady behind the cash register was sporting a lip ring, pierced in several other places beyond the lobes of her ears, but friendly and pleasant in her manner. Much of the female attire offered for sale reflected a genre McKenna would reject, the styles much too suggestive of “sex in the city”, the image going so far, in my opinion, as to reflect all this interest lately in vampires, Halloween and “the dark side” no longer merely a night in October. We were after a backpack for school, however, McKenna being a fan of some television cartoon character and this place, for whatever reason, stocked with several items imprinted with its image… I’m an old man. In my day it was duck-tails, flat-tops, and leather jackets. The girls dressed in poodle skirts, sweaters, and tight denims. A generational desire to establish your own identity by looking like all others in your age group is nothing new. I understand the outer expression; it’s the inner condition that puts me into deep thought, the spiritual journey in each of us an enigma of its own making… At one point in our class last night, in dealing with the Apostle Paul’s history before a conversion to Christianity, the teacher asked for some of us to witness as to how we dealt with guilt over former sins. One fellow spoke of simply receiving “by faith” what the Word promises us. To my own mind, though, doesn’t that make me, and not He, establishing my own forgiveness? I gave him no argument, but pointed to a verse in Corinthians for my method of facing both my past and each day’s stumble down the path. There we are told to examine ourselves as to our actual membership in this, the proof of our salvation being Christ “in” us. I find that to be more than “feelings”, the gift more than a verse of Scripture, greater than a religious tenet. He meets me when nothing seems to make sense, when I do not understand the world, when I cannot explain myself. Yesterday is behind me, tomorrow another day born with hope, and today another step, secured by His anchor-line……

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


It’s early morning, the house quiet and the world outside slowly escaping darkness, the sun not yet risen above the hills. Covington is just across the river from Cincinnati and we live where the inner city releases its grip, streets becoming roads, this one now an isolated segment of what was once a main route connecting the rural area south of us with industrialized civilization. Farming has all but disappeared. Subdivisions have the main highway just above the creek now bumper to bumper at least twice a day, no traffic light at either end of our two-mile stretch making attempts to enter the flow a bit like the old video game “Frogger”. Much has changed since the fifties. My thoughts are occupied with the passing of time… My group returns to the Detention Center this Sunday, our last visit just ten days ago and me leaving the kids “hanging to a branch” and failing to identify it as the “lifeline” we were extending unto them. In truth, I almost always depart from there feeling less than “finished”, but realizing what we are doing is no more than “sowing seed”, the Holy Ghost really the physician, His presence still operating long after we’re gone. It is that very idea, though, that is on my mind to share with them, picking up right where I left off, how salvation is a journey, one where, in just living, you look back as the years go by, asking yourself what you have accomplished, has there been any purpose to it all. There being nothing we can do about the past, we are left with the person in the mirror, the question not a matter of “How many toys have I amassed?” but “Who am I on the inside? What sort of person have I become?” It isn’t just a matter of divine judgment yet to come, but an on-going self-value assessment that is in us from birth. Worth, however, can only be determined through a relationship with Him…..

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Infinity, and Beyond........"

While shopping in Sam’s this summer, I discovered a C.S. Lewis hardback trilogy containing three of the author’s attempts at science fiction. Two volumes were purchased, one for me and one for Steven, my grandson in Lexington. He graduated in June, his baseball skills earning him a “full ride” at a local college not too far from home, his academic smarts marking him, as well, a fellow with a bright future in front of him. The Bible has held a place in his life from the beginning. The two of us, however, have found common ground, not so much in the theological depths of Christianity, exploring the meaning of chapter and verse, but in the mystery of it all, the possibility of what lies beyond our ability to grasp. If some are content with “faith in a box”, to each their own; but this old man believes in a story unable to be captured, a truth that is rooted in Scripture, yet bigger than any dogma we utilize to contain it. I am not afraid to fathom the universe. My trust is in His anchor-line. It didn’t bother me at all, therefore, to recently receive a copy of Steven’s literary attempt to re-write the Genesis account of God giving birth to our existence. To read of the Creator having the archangel Michael swing his sword through thin air in the middle of the throne room, causing a rent to be formed, an opening of a veil that separated all of heaven from what appeared to be an abysmal “nothing”, did not give me thoughts of “blasphemy!” To next be informed of Lucifer being commanded to enter the void, the brightness found in him expelled at the divine utterance of “Let there be light!” only made me smile. Who, after all, can actually dispute such scenario didn’t occur in like manner? Lewis’ imaginary adventure concerning a visit to Mars may well be considered nonsense with what we now know about the planet, a robotic camera documenting the facts, but in the early 1900s it was “going where no man had gone before”; and just because NASA has cleared up some details doesn’t mean we have solved the enigma of all that’s out there. Christ “in” me was never intended to become a religious diploma certifying our degree of having conquered grace as extended to us via Calvary. This is a journey, not a denominational cave where we gather to escape the world……

Monday, July 29, 2013


This is my last full week of Summer Break, school not starting until the fourteenth of August, but a lot of one to three hour classes are scheduled between here and there that will eliminate any sense of having nothing on my plate for any extended portion of time. I return with mixed emotions, working with these kids yet part of my heart, dealing with the job, itself, as it has changed in the last decade or so another matter. Then, again, the same could be said in so far as my relationship with the church. It might well be that age has something to do with it, more than just my body revealing the change that comes to all of us. My spirit stays refreshed in Him; my heart knows the fullness of Christ “in” me; and my mind is continually exploring the depths of that relationship. My soul, however, seems tired, the world around me changed in so many ways, life still precious, but the journey involving too much red tape, something humanity calls “progress”. People no longer talk to people. Everything is hooked up to a computer, “Press one if you want this, two if you need that”, the list so long that by the time it has run its course, you’ve already forgotten why you were calling in the first place. Insurance that, by the time they’ve finished explaining what they will or will not cover, you wonder who it was that you bought the policy to protect. Government has taken this country to the verge of self-destruction, those principles upon which it was founded now being questioned and, to some extent, ignored. I realize, of course, that humanity has always been humanity and “I are one”. I know that such condition explains much concerning the present state of our nation, the nature of Pentecost as it now exists, and the gray mood this old man often occupies. His well, though, remains. His grace renews. Here and there along the way connection is verified by an overflow, a tug on the anchor-line. In the midst of the storm, He is with me in the next step……