Saturday, June 29, 2013


I just finished Rick Atkinson’s historical account of WWII as fought in the European theater and am deep in thought concerning what battlefield experience must do to a man’s theology, not just in his belief of God, but in his view of humanity as a whole. To have survived the blanket, indiscriminate carnage that such scenario inflicted upon the civilian population as well as combatants, and to have witnessed the immorality as lived by both those who came to liberate and those whose holocaust was yet to be discovered in the finality of it all, surely must have messed with a man’s mind. I am about halfway through a Ravi Zacharias, though, wherein one’s faith is addressed in terms of it needing to be defended, multiple methods of argument provided for believers to tackle the atheist, the Muslim, or whatever ‘heathen” one might meet on his way to the grocery; and the whole idea puzzles me, the Holy Ghost, thus far, having served me well, no pocket-guide answers to hard questions required for conversation with anyone. My forty-year stumble-down-the-path relationship with the Church has often found me scratching my head, a whole lot of sermons preached to me not holding up when it came down to “the rubber meeting the road” and life, in general, a mystery anyway one might like to look at things; so I’m thinking if environment plays into this at all, the key isn’t some schematic we, ourselves, create, one size fits all, but a commitment to His anchor-line established in our belly. This place affords little in the sense of security, there being no guarantee of what next year, tomorrow, or two minutes from now hold. Give me the Book, but give it to me with the reality of His hand having me in the way I go. Give me what will keep me, be it breathed in a foxhole in the middle of hell, or seated in a sanctuary trying to understand myself in the midst of it all……

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Rock Bottom....."

It’s not quite five o’clock in the morning and the old man finds himself awakened, not by a dream, but a brain that simply refuses to lie dormant. Bible class last night began with some discussion on current events and then basically addressed the present state of the Church in so far as to how much it resembled that first body of believers that came out of the Upper Room. Somewhere near the end of the lesson, I suggested that today’s ecclesiastical community, as a whole, merely “reaps what it sows”, its witness to the world around it damaged by a “fractured Gospel”, illustrating my remark by pointing to Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling. Out of the same Book, some welcome it based on their interpretation of Scripture, others, in the name of Christ, angrily disrupt funeral processions with Biblical verses chanted over bull horns. Our teacher, in response to my statement and with a bit of passion, declared there to be no confusion at all, especially on this issue, the Word quite clear as to how God feels about it. Obviously he had missed my intent, there being no wish at all to deny the claim of “divine inspiration” giving us the message. My only purpose was to remind us how, apart from any true “fusion” with the Holy Ghost, the reality of His presence within us, our humanity can turn the message into a “mess”. He, alone, is our testimony and the one truth that confirms all else in our stumble down the path. Steve, in fact, would say as much in final prayer. We are, indeed, a “peculiar” people. We struggle in our faith with questions concerning His “absence” in our affairs and we predicate His existence with our own perceived definitions of who He is, what He thinks, and how He operates. Forty years ago my bunch condemned women for cutting their hair, wearing jewelry, and applying cosmetics, all based on the Apostle Paul’s epistles. There are two things that I know that I know: (a) that which entered into me March 27th, 1972 has never failed me in any way whatsoever in the journey since; and (b) while that merger changed my potential, it didn’t alter my identity as a man. It is still “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little”, an anchor-line, irrigational well in my soul…..

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Through the Looking Glass........."

I drove Beth to her appointment with the doctor Monday afternoon, the office located within the newest branch of the local hospital and situated just off the expressway in downtown Covington. Twelfth Street has been transformed into a four-lane thoroughfare, the whole immediate area around that winding road leading back to the front entrance refreshed in its appearance, and as this particular part of the inner city of Covington was home to me for more than a decade back in the late 40s, early 50s, I asked my about-to-turn-thirteen granddaughter, McKenna, if she wanted to drive down “memory lane” with me. It only took a few minutes. The inside of the old Lutheran church remains mentally photographed: the room where we gathered before Sunday school, the second floor sanctuary with its huge pipe organ, the choir loft, and even the crimson color of the carpet on the staircases leading to the balcony. The outside, while wearing a sign attesting to such history, also has another one declaring the building now utilized by a different body of believers. The bricks were faded. If the stained glass windows were still there, I missed them. It was like seeing a ghost, the structure yet there, but the image faded, not quite the same as the picture contained in my brain. Four or five blocks away, we turned beneath the railroad overpass, moving slowly down what once was my life. Pershing Avenue had always been a one-way, narrow, cobble-stoned residential street connecting with Main, my grandfather’s house where we occupied the second floor positioned midway on the left, a small garage on either side affording a good place for kids to play dodge ball. What seemed to me in childhood a long spacious stretch from one end to the other, a world of its own where children jumped rope, chased each other in various games, bicycled, roller-skated, and knew everyone else’s yard almost as well as you knew your own… now looked shrunk, as if its spirit was gone, no evidence of people anywhere and the homes squeezed together, the length of it traversed much too soon for the picture of it still held in an old man’s mind. Time is an illusion, an ocean through which we pass. I find it very possible that God has a DVD of it and can step into any section of it whenever He wishes. We can, too, but only via this foggy imprint retained within, the tangible also perishable and the eternal a matter of possessing it in Him. I may not understand it; but I can know it in my belly even as I know yesterday in my head…..

Monday, June 24, 2013

"True North..................................."

”As you sit on a hillside, or lie prone under the tree of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged on the shingly beach of a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens; and, experiencing the present purely is being emptied and hollow. You catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall”……Annie Dillard

Sunday morning’s sermon fell short of connecting in any manner with my own thinking, its focus on those four men in Mark’s gospel who uncovered a roof in order to lower a sick friend into the midst of a prayer meeting. The pastor was making a plea for our congregation to likewise know a similar zeal in bringing others with them, the front entrance large enough to accommodate such a task and there being no need mimic the story in every detail. In making the church, itself, though, the point of salvation, with no emphasis on Christ “in” me remaining the main ingredient, what we tend to slowly lose in any body of believers is the recognition that we, ourselves, serve as a temple for His resurrection. I realize, of course, the possibility of some “going off the deep end” with that theology as well, claiming themselves, not just a vessel for the Holy Ghost, but administrators, as well, with all authority for whatever somehow now transferred unto whichever way their mentality opts to use it. Indeed, somewhere in this we seem to have lost the anchor-line. In Ephesians, Paul speaks of his God-given mission equating to (a) preaching the “unsearchable riches” we now have access to through Christ, and (b) making all men see what is the “fellowship of the mystery”, that which was lost to us all the way back in the beginning of the world. While those two words within the first segment surely ought to entice us enough to search out just what has given us via an inner reconnection, the latter four tell me that our relationship maintained with Him will never be one within the grasp of our fully understanding His reality alive in us and thus never existing in terms of our being able to manipulate it as we own it. With no wish to suggest the Creator and nature are one and the same, I confess to having found, in my own experience, that stepping into the fullness of His presence occurs in much the same way as the above author describes becoming one with the world around her. It is a matter of His faith, His peace, His fruit being openly manifested through me; and anything left behind after the waters recede is merely temporary blessings. It is important, therefore, that, in our witness of Him, we do not set anything above Him. Always, let me point to a risen Savior, not just my denominational bunch, not merely my interpretation of the Book……

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Forward Motion..................."

Beth and I drove the back roads over to Walton yesterday afternoon, a small burg about twenty minutes south of here, its main claim to fame being Steven Cauthen, the last jockey to win the Triple Crown back in 1978. In 1973, the residents also initiated an annual “Old Fashioned Day”, a September event celebrating the county’s birthday, one where the store windows along that two mile stretch of Route 25 serving as Main Street are decorated with artifacts such as quilts, family heirlooms, and old photographs, some people in period costumes for a parade along with crafts, games, and live music. Urban sprawl is slowly beginning to swallow up that neck of the woods, the scenery one used to experience in Northern Kentucky greatly changed in the last six decades. Gardens and agricultural crops are now few and far between. It used to be that anyone owning a hundred square feet or so of open space was growing dinner in his back yard. Fields everywhere were alive with acres of corn and tobacco. As a teenager, I rode behind a tractor, seated not much more than two or three inches above the ground, distributing that latter commodity into a plowed furrow. I’ve topped it, cut it, and hung it in a barn, balancing myself in the rafters, every so often flicking a huge caterpillar off my sweaty shoulders. Hay was gathered in bales; and, for seventy-five cents an hours, I’ve both walked beside and worked atop some farmer’s flatbed in the heat of a hot summer’s day, stacking it five or six units high only to transfer it again to a loft or a stall. Any more machines simply roll it up into large cylinders that are left right where they’re created. It’s a different world out there… Memory, it seems to me, is more than just a bit of nostalgia. It is the nitty-gritty “nuts and bolts” of who we are, the forging of our identity, the journey, itself, in whatsoever fashion it comes to us, coupled with the genetics given us in the first place, along the way producing the existing product; and it being almost impossible to predict the outcome of any individual if we were to try and manipulate the process. All the more reason, then, for us to somehow know the eyes of Christ, to know the grace of Christ and look beyond the humanity in the other guy, all of us in this together and in need of His promise. A man can’t go back. What he has is the next step….. with Him.

Friday, June 21, 2013

"An Empty Tomb................."

Jamie, my daughter who lives in Lexington and is a manager in training at Frisch’s, had a work meeting scheduled Thursday afternoon at the main office in Cincinnati and arrived early enough to meet us at Bob Evans for breakfast. A friend of hers had hitched a ride, he about to begin their training program and in this area for the next six weeks. Conversation, after introductions, went well, Beth and I laughing at the way he ordered his food, asking the waitress to simply bring him whatever she liked best on the menu. His manner, though, was pleasant. Mostly, while we waited for our food, he inquired of us concerning different areas of our life: what we enjoyed doing together, where we vacationed, etc. When I mentioned my ministry visits to the Youth Detention Center and the rescue mission, however, he wondered what drew me to such opposite ends of the spectrum; and, as I began to explain, the anointing began to flow, giving witness to a passion for both places. This was not a loud, imposition wherein I demanded his attention. The two of us had connected in the Holy Ghost, his eyes giving evidence of feeding on my words, knowing within the touch of His presence in that moment. Nonetheless, just in case my own sense of things was in error, an apology was offered afterwards. “No,” he replied; “Your lips were quivering as you spoke and that was coming up from deep inside you. I only hope to know such compassion in me for outreach somewhere down the road.” There was no knowledge given me of circumstances in his life regarding his wife, his father, a commitment to Christ at the age of thirteen, things that my daughter would tell me later over the phone. This was no “target” seated before me and there was no intent to sermonize him. God just stepped into our midst, sowing a seed into that young man’s spirit. This is what “resurrection” is all about……

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"The Oasis................"

My son-in-law and I were already inside the mission last night, shaking a few hands and waiting for the fellow in charge to open the service, when Tony appeared from the rear entrance, a little late, but much welcomed by this old man. My head was in a fog, suffering from allergies after a day spent outside in the heat. His arrival assured me that the hour would not be limited to a lame attempt on my part to find God’s presence in our midst. Dave’s absence was filled with a couple of hymns and, before Mark would bring “How Great Thou Art” out of his saxophone like manna from heaven, my buddy would speak to the men on “faith”, how it springs out of His faithfulness rather than a matter of any mental “huffing and puffing” demanded of believers. His words were not a “sermon”, at least not in the sense of it being an out-lined walk through Scripture. He just talked to them out of his own life, with a verse or two thrown in along the way, all of it a bridge for me to complete in taking us to final prayer. This was no “gathering of the town drunks”. We weren’t preaching to a group of “back-alley society outcasts”, brains burnt out on drugs and there only for the free meal served beforehand. I won’t deny that there’s always the possibility of one or two in our midst struggling in such manner and do not wish to make it sound as if those types are somehow any “less” than the rest of us. We are a “congregation”, every bit as much as that which fills the pews in any other sanctuary. When Tony asked about Virgil’s absence, he learned of his having completed the offered program in its entirety. The same applied to James, his being with us last month merely a wish to visit, as many often do after graduation. Histories and hang-ups aside, we are a mixed bunch of believers with, no doubt, always the change of an atheist or a Muslim sitting in our midst, denominational dogmas not discarded, but most certainly not worthy of arguing as we surrender ourselves unto His presence. In Christ we are one. Over twelve years now and this monthly ministry yet feeds me, its blessings much more than anything I bring unto it……  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Ennui Buster.............

My three month-old Dell computer has suffered some sort of malfunction, one in which I am still connected to the Internet, but maintaining a relationship with it is a continual “on-again, off-again” affair. Getting into my blog is no problem. Trying to hop from there and check my e-mail usually meets rejection. It could well be Windows Eight that needs tweeking, but investigation will have to wait. My programmer buddy is vacationing in Florida… Yesterday, after an overcast sprinkly morning, the afternoon became a sun-baked oven wherein I created a new circular flowerbed in the back yard. Thirty feet away, the severed carcass of a huge dead tree lays scattered in the grass waiting for my young next-door neighbor to gather for firewood this winter. He seems in no hurry. An evening rainfall would bless the fruit of my labor while hindering the possibility of any serious effort on his part… Tonight we visit the men at the rescue mission again, as of yet there being no clear direction in what I intend to share with them. Life, it seems to me, is in the living, the details getting worked out as you go. Meaning and purpose often get lost in the journey, each day its own puzzle to solve. Even “in” Christ, it’s easy to find yourself with nothing more than a theology, a fellowship, and a religious robe you wear to support the illusion. Thus the great need to return to the well, to know His reality as a tangible source of re-affirmation. Faith rests on what it has been fed, renews itself through another dip in the pool, and learns from an anchor-line connection that secures us in the next step. In a world that so often seems pointless, He remains a promise unbroken……

Monday, June 17, 2013


“All hail the power in Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all.”

Somewhere in my second or third orbit of the soccer field Saturday afternoon, the above lyrics came back to me out of some memory vault, that particular chorus along with the initial verse of “Holy, Holy, Holy” sung every Sunday morning in that Lutheran church known to me during my childhood years. The program changed somewhat on a weekly basis (the sermon on a different topic and a selected hymn to “fit” the sermon), but the format itself was written in concrete. If I look back at such time in my life with a bit of nostalgia, it isn’t due to that routine having taught me Christ in any form or fashion. In truth, although approaching my seventy-second birthday in October finds me averse to drastic alterations concerning the world around me, a bit of variety, a taste of not always knowing how the day will come to me, is what makes the journey interesting… Father’s Day, this year, was a home-cooked meal at the oldest daughter’s house, husbands and children of both girls who yet live in this neck of the woods all gathering for the occasion. Their cards brought a tear to my eye, hitting me in my heart with their own sentiments going far beyond what Hallmark had inscribed. For whatever reason, my relationship with my own dad had lacked in any vocal recognition of the bond between us and I’ve made sure, as much as possible, to correct that on this side of things. Indeed, I find it much like the message brought to us by our pastor in last night’s service. Building upon Psalm 89’s simple statement “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound”, he referred to the Pentecostal blessing that occurred in the Upper Room and declared “heaven” now abiding within us, that “rushing mighty wind” in the Book of Acts no longer a force delivered from on high, but coming up out of our inner well, the “audible point of contact” not so much of our ears hearing its onrush as it is that which we, ourselves create in allowing it to emerge in whatsoever manifestation it brought with it. There will be praise, the union, of itself, effecting worship; but the only part we hold in the event is a willingness to surrender ourselves to its possibility. Even so, I think, the parental bond on either end of the spiritual umbilical cord. Deity may not be directly involved in expressing our love for each other, but it does seem to me that His approval rests upon it.; and it’s for sure that both events are enriched when they occur out of spontaneity rather than repetition, a directive requiring everyone’s participation……

Saturday, June 15, 2013


My oldest daughter and I did seven laps around the soccer field together when she got home from work last night, the area nearly void of other people and a cool breeze making the temperature not as hot as it would be otherwise. Her company eliminates my usual mental exercise undertaken at such time, but conversation with her is always welcomed and her pace takes me up a notch or two, the effort to keep up with her surely burning off more than just a few extra calories. Our discussion, as it usually does on these jaunts, turned to “life in the church”. She was only about seven when the neighbors started taking her and her younger sister to Sunday school, over five sixths of her forty-eight years a matter of being attached to this assembly. She has survived legalism, the charismatic invasion, and her father’s change of identity along the way. My reasons, though, for such abdication of all former commitments to this bunch, as well as my being happy that she and her husband have nonetheless remained involved, are known to her. I am proud of the two young men my grandsons have become, their values rooted in a Christ who is real and in parents who have lived that truth in front of them. The two of us talk: of what faith really involves, of just how deep His grace extends unto us, a confirmation of the connection, and of how humanity remains humanity, even “in” Christ, our inabilities and failures not just dismissed, but patiently put on the Potter’s wheel as we submit ourselves unto Him. I am her father, inwardly knotted to her in love, the relationship much the same as that which we know with our Creator via the Holy Ghost; and there is no doubt in my mind that I owe our earthly paternal bond to my having placed it all into His hands over four decades ago……

Friday, June 14, 2013


Something like thirty years ago our church initiated a school program, in its genesis not a whole lot more than individual work booths where students completed assignment books, help available in the form of an adult supervisor not always holding a college degree. Kentucky laws have since changed. We have complied, built a bigger, separate edifice to contain the ministry, and the kids, kindergarten through twelfth, number around two hundred nowadays. One of our graduates, now in his early twenties, helped us yesterday by taking down a couple of large, dead trees in the back yard. Conversation turned to his journey through that educational facility, his own mother one of the present certified teachers in its employment, but it being questionable whether we ever really achieved that which we intended so long ago. Isolating our children from what we perceived as a moral malfunction in the public system, social values corrupted in the classroom from behind the desk as well as in front of it, has not proven to be all that successful as a method of correction. I say that with four of my own prodigy yet in its enrollment. As he and Beth discussed the subject from such perspective, however, my question to him at one point was simply: “Looking back, do you regret your parents not having taken you via the other route?” His response, after a moment of serious consideration, spoke of gratitude for the experience and it left me with an opinion held for some time now, my own life invested into its birthing. We do not change people’s lives with a message. Doctrinal instruction concerning our theology might create a few more clones in our particular neck of the neighborhood; but humanity always remains humanity, any alteration in its identity a matter of influence applied along the way and a resurrected Christ “in” me always the best source of such commodity. Christianity, it seems to me, has neglected to emphasize that in any manner that suggests truth in its fullness. That might have a lot to do, though, with the fact that all of us, no matter our longevity in this, need His anchor-line, rod and staff correction in a stumble down the path……

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Beth and I drove over to the Mall area early Wednesday morning, some minor dental work required on my part, no need for numbing and so the two of us visited the Cracker Barrel afterwards for breakfast. Another couple from church was also there, whether coincidental or otherwise, he just released from the hospital due to some problems encountered with his biopsy. Taking aspirin several days prior to the event is a “no-no”. How much prior? A phone-call to Veterans quickly confirmed the error in my own reasoning, the nurse pleasant, but not too happy having to reschedule my Friday appointment with the doctor. Then, arriving home, we found the grandson mowing our lawn and, as we walked from the car to the house, she attempted to extract some dead foliage from this big ugly flower in the small bed just outside the garage. Normally that door would not have been open; but there it was, an invitation for me to follow my "stinkin’ thinkin’" to simply chop off the dead leafs there at the bottom of the plant. Who knew gardening could be such a dangerous occupation? One swift, vicious, downward swing of the hatchet brought immediate pain to my right index finger, a previously severed bamboo-like stalk having sliced the upper layer nearly to the bone from the knuckle back. It took nine stitches to close it, luckily no damage done to the tendon. Should I mention that Beth recently discovered her thyroid possibly threatening her health and, on a minor note, this three-month old computer is already out of whack, connected to the internet, but allowing me access only on a hit and miss basis…. In Bible study last night we examined and discussed witnessing for Christ in a world so opposed to the Gospel. While America, the past few years in particular, seems more and more aggressive in its opposition to our faith, and while drastic doctrinal differences held within our faith often create friction, yet it all boils down, at least for me, to maintaining what Paul referred to as the “mystery” of what we claim to be truth: Christ “in” me. Projecting the reality of that declaration isn’t just a matter of imposing our interpretation of Scripture upon others, nor is it all wrapped up in accomplishing a bunch of good works. Being a vessel for the Holy Ghost literally translates to allowing Him to come forth out of that inner well, manifested in what we say, what we do, and who we are. It is a life “merger” wherein we learn the “mechanics” as we go, some days with more success than others, each day a lesson all its own…...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Three weeks into Summer Break and most of those in my acquaintance, if not already departed on an adventure of some sort, are looking forward to one in the near future. My own schedule is filled in with trip to the dentist this morning and a biopsy over at Veterans Friday. Nonetheless, it “feels good”, my mood not really thirsting for all that goes with vacationing. There’s plenty of peace and quiet right here, no obligations other than what I assign myself, a three-mile exercise walk in the park almost every day, a flower bed under construction in the back yard, a short nap in the afternoon, and dinner at some nearby restaurant with my wife every evening. Two or three books, some crossword puzzles, and this computer pretty well sums up my life at the moment, a heaven on earth environment without all the money required to find excitement somewhere else. Bible class tonight, Acts Chapter Four, last week’s lesson still fresh on my mind. Yet pondering that discussion we entertained on there being power and authority in the name of Jesus, I’m still convinced that we, rather than knowing the reality of Christ alive in us, have settled instead for a theology that defines Him. No; that’s not to endorse what has come to us the last few decades via celebrity televangelism, but it is intended to stress the truth that either the indwelling is an actual re-connection with the Creator, one in which the Holy Ghost is more than a doctrinal tenet held in a profession of faith, or else the only thing we possess in fact is another religious dogma. In John’s gospel, we read “I can of myself do nothing” and “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me”. The Savior did not stop there, however, going on to say that the works He accomplished documented His identity and that, while perusal of Scripture was a worthy endeavor, eternal life was a matter of knowing Him in the journey. For me, “grace” is an encounter with His resurrection. “Christianity” is His presence reaffirmed in my life again and again as I stumble down the path, whether it come to me in a prayer closet, as an emergence into His depths during a worship service, or through me somehow in my everyday contact with others. “Power” and “authority” are His attributes, not mine; and in that sense only are they available unto me. My focus is on Him, not the situation in front of me, His name but a statement pointing to a trust that He is never out of earshot in whatever the next step holds……

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Circular Thinking....................."

Monday evening showed possibility of rain, some showers already encountered earlier and a few dark clouds yet scattered across the sky. I went to the park anyway, taking my chances; and, as it happened, managed seven laps around the soccer field with nothing but an initial light sprinkle that quickly passed. Sometimes my route is changed to include circling the tennis courts on the south end; but, on this occasion, being the only one in that neck of the woods moved me to just stay in orbit. The hour it takes to complete the three miles is opportunity for me, a bonus beyond the exercise achieved, prayer attempted, but more like temporary encounters here and there, the human mind hard to keep from going down its own path. One minute I’m talking with God; the next I find myself off on a tangent, chasing a thought, chewing over Scripture. Years ago, an elder in the church as much as rebuked me before the whole congregation concerning my view shared on a certain Bible verse. There was no anger on my part; but the event has stayed with me, giving me no wish to ever repeat it in the sense of me offending someone else in regard to who has the most correct deciphering of the Word. It occurred to me yesterday that, as far as we know from the Book, when the first murder was committed, in the whole world there was only four people living together in the same neighborhood, the event a family fratricide and the cause of death an argument over how to worship the Creator. Jesus once accused the religious bunch in Jerusalem of “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel”. I believe in spelunking the depths of all that He is, in searching the mysteries of this existence He has given, and in realizing that, no matter how much we think we have conquered in our journey thus far, we’ve not even scratched the surface in knowing Him for who He is. Christ “in” me isn’t a doctrinal tenet, but a tangible connection with truth. Anything beyond that is just my humanity trying to work out the details for myself……

Monday, June 10, 2013


Our pastor is away once again, filling a pulpit elsewhere and returning to us this Wednesday, a different preacher being assigned to us for each of the three services here yesterday. The early morning sermon was taken from Philippians and dealt with the idea that God orchestrates our life, events often beyond our ability to understand, but never without His wisdom working on our behalf regardless of outcome. While my short explanation of its subject matter might well leave room for discussion, its delivery, in this old man’s opinion, could not have been better. I loved the one point made emphasizing the fact that, regardless of how our minds decipher what we hear shared with us from a pulpit, all the theology we unravel and shape in a classroom, it is our experience as we go, given unto Him, that shapes us in our identity… The apostle Paul, in Romans, defines the Gospel in terms of how a man receives it, specifically applying that which he claims to the message of Christ’s death on the Cross. What comes to us in our sanctuaries, however, often seems to detour, its content dealing with the living of our faith, the doctrinal “legalisms” we all demand to some degree, the theoretical perspectives we all hold on what the Word, itself, requires of us and promises unto us. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, the Bible being stuffed with both categories. Nonetheless, unless we all yet believe it a shame for both a man to have long hair and a woman to speak in church, it seems obvious that there is room for us to quibble over culture, change, and common sense… Last night’s passionate gift served up for our congregation to digest was focused on those men seated in the pews, a call for the male gender to shake themselves and assume the role assigned them in Scripture. There is, indeed, an example that we are to attempt in this, a husband and a father figure we are to adopt as we go, the achievement thereof yet an on-going process shaped by a relationship held with the Holy Ghost now in us; but there is also a need to teach such truth beyond the mistaken idea that we, somehow, are superior to our female counterparts. Equality is also a mandate……

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Beth and I are driving to Lexington later today, attending a party celebrating our third grandson’s graduation from high-school. It’s yet early morning. She’s still in bed. The old man’s brain is yet a bit sluggish, but a short chapter in that psychologist’s book just consumed has my thoughts in a bit of a spin, my mind pondering the secrets we all hide. While this fellow offers advice to others regarding their marital status, he speaks of learning he was adopted, such revelation passed along by an analyst who was part of his residency training, a friend of his estranged wife’s therapist. I confess to smiling at the whole scenario, but the details concerning his eventual reconnection with his birth mother brought to recall a number of similar stories within my own extended family. One of my paternal grandmother’s sisters was actually the oldest girl’s daughter, a fact passed on to me without any explanation long after their death. Each of my maternal aunts gave birth to a baby out of wedlock, the younger somehow permitted to keep hers, the older, for whatever reason, denied the same privilege. Nowadays that sort of event is probably less common, the stigma it carried in decades past no longer with us; but, in finding mercy for mistakes made, it seems we have opened the door in other ways, many among us separated from parents and siblings through no choice of our own. The woman who lives in the house next to us, twenty-two years old with a son who does not know his real father, she, herself, only recently entering into the bonds of matrimony with the young man she has been living with the past year or so, and he, indeed, the product of but another broken home, a perfect example of where we stand as a nation. Working in the yard yesterday, we learned from her of how she left her mother and an abusive step-father when she was sixteen, just reconnecting somehow with her biological father and other siblings in the last few weeks. I speak out of sadness, not judgment, that spiritual umbilical cord shared in any manner seemingly a vital part of our identity. Whether it always knows that supportive flow of love needed by all, or not, humanity being humanity, we recognize that it should; and it is but one more reason why each of us, whether we admit it or not, search for that relationship renewed with the Father we lost in the very beginning of this mess. Hopefully, divine opportunity will present itself for witness here in this co-existence shared with our neighbors……

Friday, June 7, 2013


It’s eight o‘clock, Friday morning, the weather just outside my front door looking like another go with off-and-on-again drizzly rain. Some sunshine did pop through a bit yesterday afternoon, but nothing so great as to encourage that many others to join me in the nearby park for exercise. This time next week I’ll be over at Veterans undergoing some exploration concerning a recent rise in some sort of number they monitor via yearly blood samples. Other than interfering with my life as it comes to me on a daily basis, the scheduled visit gives me little concern, my thoughts more occupied with the almost serendipitous nature of our existence. That new WWII historical novel I’m reading, among many other inane accounts shared thus far, mentions how our military’s pre-D-Day intelligence reports failed to reveal a ten mile-long piece of Normandy’s landscape that the Germans had flooded to a depth of ten feet, an area covered with reeds and dense marsh grass into which a large number of our troops parachuted only to drown in the darkness. Consider, as well, humanity’s stupidity, a medical battalion coming ashore on Omaha Beach after the blood-bath, bringing with them typewriters and office files, but no surgical equipment or morphine; or, if not already sickened, humanity’s character, one British officer telling his soldiers as they were about to disembark the ship “Do not worry if you don’t survive the assault, as we have plenty of back-up troops who will just go in over you.” The “religious”, of course, point to their faith and speak of “prayer” producing some sort of invincible shield over the believer; and surely there is a bit of truth to that old declaration of there being “no atheists in a foxhole”. Nonetheless, I read of a Nazi V-1 bomb penetrating the reinforced concrete roof of the Guards Chapel in London even as hundreds of people petitioned for His protection with its sanctuary, the explosion killing half of those there, the rest wounded and buried in the rubble; and it seems to me that there has to be an assurance beyond ritualistic repetition, a confidence greater than somebody’s interpretation of chapter and verse. To each, their own; but, for me, that amounts to an initiation confirmed along the way by a few definitive encounters that removed all doubt. From there, though, admittedly it has been a journey, one wherein my stumble is monitored by an inner connection often referred to as an “anchor-line”. Let today begin; tomorrow bring what it may; I am not alone……

Thursday, June 6, 2013


When one examines life from the perspective of anything making sense, reality tends to leave the brain swimming in an abyss, the world, as we know it, although stamped with a design so obvious there can be no doubt of a creator having initiated its genesis, yet existing seemingly with no rhyme or reason attached to its unfolding, everything within it able to know sudden extermination. Soldiers storm the beaches of Normandy only to be slaughtered en masse, here and there a single survivor of the bloodbath. A tidal wave breaks over Japan’s coastline; an earthquake shakes Haiti; a tornado snakes its way across Oklahoma; and this day, this hour, this minute was the wrong time to take the expressway on your way to the mall. Human resolve, I suppose, somehow accounts for our ability to ignore the facts, trust in the odds, and hope for the best, each of us grasping for our own anchor-line in an attempt to know some sort of security as we go. Our Bible class, last night, with Acts, Chapter Three for a backdrop, discussed the gift of healing. The “mystery” of healing might well be a better way to frame it, none of us having any good answer as to why some obtain it and others do not. We examined “faith” and whether the name of Jesus held authority merely in its enunciation, our ninety minutes of fellowship accomplished without any of us going to war. It amazes me how believers tend to eliminate the Holy Ghost or at least reduce the indwelling to an insignificant part of the equation, especially when the bunch is, for the most part, Pentecostal. To be fair, though, language is a poor way to communicate; and I need no more than to point out our struggle between male and female, the gender barrier, in many ways, a mental one. Such thoughts, however, all bring me to some monologue extended to God on my way out to church earlier, the words spoken in response to another failure on my part to hear His voice in a way so as to confirm the connection I claim. Having known, on occasion, that which was sought, the hunger to realize it again is an ever-present desire. The silence now was met with disappointment; but, in my “belly”, somewhere down in the depths of my soul, the waters began to stir, a tear coming to my eye and a “touch” resting upon me as I prayed. If, between here and eternity, this old man never knows again the convincing of His Word in my ear, in my spirit, to know that inner “hook-up” in such manner is a privilege of which I’m unworthy. It meets me in my questions, goes with me in the next step. Let tomorrow hold what may……

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Abra Cadabra....."

There is a mental image yet held by me of my paternal grandfather stretched out in his recliner, watching wrestling on the television set while listening to the ballgame on the radio and reading a paperback western at the same time. Take away the quart of beer on the floor beside him plus the cigar that he always enjoyed, and maybe it’s where I inherited my ability to peruse more than one book at the same time. There are three presently occupying my thoughts, one of them written by a psychiatrist and the fifteenth chapter, in particular, speaking to me in terms of possible use in ministry at both the rescue mission and the Detention Center. Surely the subject matter applies to us all, though, the truth therein certainly a part of my own life. It’s entitled “Only Bad Things Happen Quickly” and opens by stating: “One of the common fantasies entertained by those who seek change in their life is that it can be rapidly achieved. Once we think we know what to do, it appears that we ought to be able to simply do it. That these sudden transformations are rare is a source of puzzlement to many.” The author next begins to show that our addictions are not just limited to drinking, smoking, drug dependency, sexual perversion, and gambling. In his words, “What is at work here is the psychological power of habit, the characteristics that render each of us unique seldom the product of rational choice and the life-altering maladaptive behaviors that are our habitual ways of relating to others major determinants of how successful we are in forming and sustaining relationships.” He goes so far as to claim our “identity” is not a matter of conscious choice, but either inborn or formed by our history, ingrained within the very fabric of who and what we are, and he assures the reader that nothing is going to be altered overnight. In his opinion, any “sudden good news” was reduced to just four things: “a last second touchdown, an unexpected inheritance, winning the lottery, or a visitation from God”… That last statement made me smile, giving me pause as to just how much he considered each of these four events to be “life-changing”. While the latter holds more potential for transforming the inner character of a man, it yet remains without guarantee and conditional upon the relationship maintained with the addition of Christ “in” me. We, within the fellowship of faith, seldom put it in such terms, there being a better “draw” to stress the immediate more so than the journey yet ahead. Nevertheless, Paul admonishes us, as believers, to “examine” ourselves on a regular basis, perfection the goal, grace the incentive, not a blanket permission to remain as we are……

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Super Glue......"

Having often expressed here my disappointment with much that has changed in Pentecost and in my church, in particular, during the last four decades, it seems only fair that this old man also share some reasons why he yet finds himself seated in the balcony for Sunday morning and evening services. I’ve previously pointed to my daughters and grandchildren being active members, volunteering and giving themselves in several ways, Christ alive in their life far beyond what happens within their attachment to this body of believers. It’s also true that, while the majority of this congregation is no longer familiar to me, having grown larger than my ability to contain everyone’s identity, there yet remains within the bulk a certain few who were there with me in the beginning. My wife’s roots go back over sixty years and my own history amounts to more than four decades. That which holds us here, though, is an even deeper connection, one that surfaces from time to time, a reality that works in our midst regardless of all our differences, in spite of our humanity as it exists, a grace bigger than our inadequacies…. Sunday evening, perched in the upper level, I found myself once again simply listening to the worship team, the songs seemingly “programmed”, an attempt to “prime the pump”, but without any real success. It happens. The Spirit comes as He determines, not through any command on our part. So it was, then, in the process of taking Communion, we experienced, not a “rushing mighty wind”, but something closer to His presence simply being “poured” into the sanctuary. You sensed the difference, His entrance as if an invisible, divine dignity had arrived and the reality of such visitation filling not just the space around us, but receiving us, at the same time, into its depths. Willingly we became one within it. Praise began to flow out of us, the Holy Ghost for thirty minutes or so working in our midst. There would be no need for a sermon afterward, person after person in the pew beginning to exhort and testify of His grace…. I once thought such experience exclusive to “tongue talkers”, having never known anything like it in my earlier brief brushes with other denominations. Years have taught me otherwise. God connects with all who come to His well, the overt manifestation of such event only a matter of how much we surrender ourselves unto it. Let me also admit here that humanity remains humanity, all not using good sense in the liberty given; so I understand why some would prefer a different scenario than what occurs within my bunch. For me, though, this is familiar territory, “home” in so far as attachments, but a place where a commitment to its overall theology left me long ago……

Monday, June 3, 2013


”Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed”… Dwight D. Eisenhower

I’ve started another book, three different ones now being perused at the same time, each one a different genre. This latest purchase is written by Ray Atkinson, author of “The Longest Day”, his subject here but one more historical novel entitled “The Last Guns of Light”. World War II facts have always held my interest. I was born in October of 1941, less than two months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. My father fought in the mountains of Italy, one of only two men in his battalion who survived, no wounds suffered other than nightmares on occasion. As a child, I quickly learned it not wise to wake him from slumber. Casualties of such hell are surely measured in more ways than one. In reading about Eisenhower this morning, though, it surprised me to hear several of his contemporaries express poor opinions of him, one fellow observing that “When it comes to war, he doesn’t know the difference between Christmas and Easter”, another judging him to be “no real director of thought, plans, energy, or direction!” Our 34th President, however, while bothered some by their criticism, struggled with more important issues, as far as I’m concerned, this particular account stating elsewhere that “While he was neither philosopher nor military theorist”, he believed too few commanders grappled with what he called “subjects that touch the human soul – aspirations, ideals, inner beliefs, affection, and hatred.” It makes one wonder if he took both of those evaluations into the Oval Office with him. I look at politics much as I look at the Church. We elect and accept our leaders mostly out of (a) party/denominational preference and (b) some charismatic quality the person holds with us. What we get is a man or a woman wrestling with life even as we do. Humanity always factors into the matter, on both sides of the voting booth, on both sides of the pulpit. Government doesn’t necessarily always equate to Washington, D.C. and the above quote need not distinctly apply to all military conflict between nations……

Sunday, June 2, 2013


This space has always been mostly about a place to sort out my thoughts, a relaxation equivalent to that found through fishing or hunting, the difference being nothing gets killed, no dead carcass to deal with in any manner whatsoever. There’s no kidding myself about being a writer, though, it being fairly obvious that the only subject usually on my mind is Christianity, the Gospel as it filters through my perspective, over four decades of sharing it with others shaped by my journey within the Pentecostal experience. From the beginning, “truth” was never a matter of doctrinal dogma set in concrete, but a continual walk through the fog secured by an inner anchor-line. For me, this has always been an investigation, of me more so than of Him, an occupation, strangely enough, not always welcomed by many within the Church. Questions seem to scare believers, at times even anger them, their religion already framed and put to rest. Who needs explanations? It seems to me, however, that life is in the details as well as in the living, lessons learned as we go and longevity often requiring another look at the manual to determine if we’ve read it correctly. I’m not so much a teacher, in the sense of possessing all the answers, just another pilgrim on the path, and what comes forth here is merely my perspective at the time, up for examination, open for discussion. If theology is no more than an evolving analogy of an enigma, then it is also true that humanity, itself, is the biggest piece of the puzzle. God gives us direct contact, Christ in me, and we somehow manage to turn that into enough denominational dogma to confuse the issue. The instruction manual merely allows each factor to build its own Tower of Babel, some “pre-tongues” and some “post-tongues”, all of whom individually either claim to be the truth, or else the next closest thing to it. Sorry; but my only wish is to point whomsoever to the promise of our knowing an inner personal relationship with the reality of His resurrection; and, from there, it becomes a walk shared between you and the Holy Ghost. Discussion, not demands, is where this old man sits. Drop by any time……

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Seeing as how there are no more than about four who visit this site with any frequency, I’m going to expound a bit farther on Tony’s prayer experience that he shared with us in class Wednesday evening. This was not a “Now I lay me down to sleep” declaration on his part. It may well have started out as a petition of some sort, but somewhere in its course he somehow stepped into His presence, becoming as one with Him, hanging on the Cross. If it was a vision, he was in the vision. He could actually feel the nails as if they were in his own hands and feet, his body identifying with the Savior’s and knowing all the pain of simply trying to breathe. His muscles cramped, his mouth dry; and yet worse than all else was that moment when he realized that connection with the Father had been severed. It was an extreme sense of loneliness, producing fear and testing faith. Then that walk into the bowels of the earth. None doubted the tale as told, indeed all of us pausing for a few seconds when he finished. This old man did not make any mention of his dream, though, preferring to speak with Tony afterward about something I’ve long believed. The phrase utilized in our room was “death penalty” and it’s pretty safe to assume most, if not all, of Christianity equates that with the physical demise of Christ, the crucifixion in its entirety. Where is there any explanation in that, however, other than “I should have been nailed to that tree”? Do not all of us yet face the assuredness of our own demise? On the other hand, if we, without dismissing the agony endured throughout the whole assassination, consider that point in time when He was voided of that inner connection known with His Father from birth, suffering what we have known from Adam’s transgression in order to take our walk into hell, “paying the price for our sins” begins to add up for me. Calvary becomes, rather than a religious doctrine upon which we claim possession of a “get-out-of-jail-free” card, a relationship restored and held accountable to us on Judgment Day, the Gospel takes on new perspective. There is no wish here, on my part, to throw away and forget any of the other details concerning Golgotha’s hill. It all figures into “the price He paid” that humanity, as a whole might be reconciled with its Creator; but “how shall we escape if we neglect” salvation’s most important piece of the puzzle?.......