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……

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Literal Observation.......".

In discovering Windows Eight provides me an app allowing free access to a library full of books, most written a century or so ago, I explored the theology section and came across “A History of Church Dogma” that was written in 1908. The first chapter was enough stir my thoughts. While Catholicism claims its genesis being rooted in Jesus giving Peter the keys to the kingdom, it was about two hundred years down the road, with the Body of Christ in serious theological dispute, leaders sat down and birthed an institution based on “apostolic laws and regulations”. Such event marked, perhaps not the first “doctrinal split”, the Gnostics teaching “spiritual oneness” achieved through knowledge and enlightenment, the Marcionites demanding a rejection of Old Testament influence, and the Montanists resembling something akin to modern-day Charismatics, but what seems to me, at least, the initial attempt to “contain faith in a box”. My assistant pastor, however, in conversation with me, countered “not if you’re willing to believe God to be the author of such transition”. Well, if I approach it from that perspective, then do not I have to apply the same idea to Martin Luther nailing his thesis to the door, John Calvin’s break with his roots, and at least a dozen others who created their own version of the Gospel? Could it not be, instead, that men are given the freedom to form their own theologies, the name over the cathedral not as important as the name written on the heart, the Book infallible only in that, within its pages one can encounter a connection with its author, bendable otherwise, humanity’s digestion of it always being subject to error? Truth is a stumble down the path, a lesson learned as we go. None of us have it entirely nailed down. Truth be told: not many of us teach it that way either……

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Stopping by the assistant pastor’s office on my way to the church gymnasium, I found myself entered into a brief conversation with him concerning final judgment, the two of us discussing the recent loss of another man’s son and he addressing that day when it all comes down to whether or not a man chose to accept Jesus. Voicing my own hesitancy to punctuate our destiny with such precision, believing that particular point in eternity belongs to that One who holds it all in His hands, I left further parsing of the subject for another time. He, by his very position within the church, is bound by its credo. Easy enough to walk therein if your mind is content with a structured box and the limits it enforces. Indeed, it seems to me that Christianity, as a whole, has constrained itself thusly, each division utilizing the same Bible to construct its individual dogma while leaving no option for the Holy Ghost to proclaim God possibly bigger than the box. A G.K. Chesterton quote came to me yesterday afternoon, shortly after the above encounter, perhaps applying to such thoughts as posed. “All roads lead to Rome;” he conceded, before adding “which is one reason why many people never get there.” While preachers most likely would be quick to apply this to the singularity of Christ as our ticket through the Pearly Gates, my own digestion of it determined the statement might well refer to the number of paths available to us, all starting at the Cross, but from there a matter of what we want to believe. While I’m not advocating rebellion (a verse in Proverbs, in listing “six things that the Lord hates”, declares a seventh item, “sowing discord among the brethren” to be “an abomination unto Him”), surely there is room in this to allow that the Creator is more than any concrete image we have constructed for ourselves out of Scripture. The Book was never meant to be a foundation for some mental idol before which we bow down and worship, but an oasis to which we can return again and again, discovering there that same breath of God which originally spoke it into existence. “If there is a wall between you and the world,” that same above author noted, “it makes little difference if you are locked in or locked out.”…..

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Job Description............"

Our waiter at Bob Evans last night was a young fellow with whom we’ve had no complaints on previous occasions. He’s always been friendly, attentive, good at what he does, and this time was no exception other than conversation opening some insight into his personal life. His job there is due to a need for a regular schedule, plus the location being near enough to his mother’s house, a DUI arrest a few months ago resulting in the loss of his driver’s license for a year. Only one beer consumed along with some pain medicine accounted for the incident. Twenty-seven years old, he has two daughters resulting from a seven-year live-in relationship with a woman whose behavior is presently threatening to end his recent offer to marry her. We listened as he told us all this, his demeanor indicating such problems were merely part of everyone’s existence. You “go with the flow”, deal with it as it comes to you, tomorrow is another day. My heart wanted so much to talk with him of Christ, but wisdom said that this moment was not the place, better to take him with me into a prayer closet and let God work out the details… Earlier I had stood with a neighbor in his backyard, listening as he shared the details of his middle-aged son having committed suicide Wednesday. His eyes gave evidence of an inner sorrow that penetrated my own being, the two of us joined in the story of a man who clearly battled an inability to face the journey as he perceived it to be. There are those whose faith would not allow grace in such tragedy, other than proposing a possibility of last-minute conversion, but my Bible never seemed to me a Heaven-or Hell, one-or-the-other decision given for us to determine. Judgment will come. Jesus, however, is a grace extended to all, a resurrected re-connection with our Creator willing to walk with us through our humanity, meet us in our mess if we are but willing to meet with Him. I believe that, in the end, He, alone, knows the struggle endured, our weakness, our strengths, all the elements of both who were and the road as it came to us. My job, then, as His witness, is not to condemn, but to be that vessel through which He can work, a testimony of hope rather than a declaration of damnation. I find that true for all, me as well as the guy in front of me……

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Knock... Knock............."

There were only fourteen kids in the Detention Center Sunday morning, the reduction in headcount actually always good to encounter, the whole purpose in our visiting being the hope of eliminating the need for such a facility in the first place. For whatever reason, though, the recreation room had been abandoned and we were reintroduced to using their small gymnasium for a sanctuary, that location’s higher ceiling tending to create a bit of an echo chamber. A sense of “closeness” was also lost, such space not disturbing the feeling of our being a unit, but most certainly creating an illusion of now being seated on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier rather than coming together in the mess area of a submarine. Nonetheless, the Holy Ghost is not hindered. He has a way of “connecting” us, of “being about His Father’s business”; and it matters not the location shared nor the numbers that occupy it. In truth, the Spirit and I had already bumped into each other earlier, four of us standing in an IGA parking lot, talking while waiting for two more of our group to arrive. Conversation was nothing in particular, some laughter and discussion over ministry and motorcycle fellowship. When I spoke of my frustration, however, concerning one man who visits the rescue mission with us, Bob immediately voiced his objection to publicly expressing such struggle. It was one of those moments that could spark trouble between friends. Trouble was: he was right; and I told him so, even calling him back a few days later to relieve him of any weight he might be carrying about the remark. God, I have found, doesn’t need a pulpit to deliver a sermon. If our ears are open, if our heart is hungry to hear, He speaks to us in many ways, sometimes with a hand that heals, sometimes with a poke of His shepherd’s staff, correcting us as we go. In taking the Gospel unto others, we have not escaped our humanity. This remains a journey undertaken, a walk with Him down the path…..

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Take Me To YOur Leader........"

”Many people are afraid to empty their own mind lest they plunge into the void. What they don’t realize is that their own mind is the void!”…huang-po

The house is quiet, only the hum of the air-conditioner with me here in the computer room giving any intrusion into the silence that marks six-thirty in the morning. We visit the Youth Detention Center today and I’ve already reviewed my few thoughts intended to share with the kids should the Holy Ghost leave space for me before final prayer. My inner man, however, remains occupied with a self-examination of itself, having encountered the above quote yesterday while visiting “Whiskey River”. Most in Pentecost would reject all consideration of anything coming from a Buddhist Zen master, their ears open only to that which they already believe, their faith in Christ a self-constructed fortress against the outside world rather than a living word reaching into it. In that sense, then, I find myself agreeing somewhat with what this Chinese recluse seems to suggest. For me, the only question lies in applying some sort of definition to just what the word “mind” embraces. Indeed, it is one of four means by which Jesus said we are to love God. Does the term equate to nothing more than our brain? If it refers to our thinking process, can we assign our spirit some part in the matter, that part of our identity having been omitted from the package? Whatever boundaries we might attempt to apply to it, we are left with exactly what this religious priest proclaims it to be: a vast universe, each of us adrift in our own individual version of it, none of us very adept in exploring its infinity, and all of us subject to “falling off the deep end”. Security depends upon whether our “anchor-line” is a linkage that we, ourselves, have created, or a spiritual umbilical cord alive within us, connecting us to Him. When Paul states that we, as believers, have the “mind of Christ”, he isn’t saying that we now think like Christ, but that we now possess within us a potential for the Holy Ghost to be inserted into our thinking process, each of us yet permitted our own decision as to whether we’ll listen to Him or not…..

Friday, July 19, 2013


We return to the Youth Detention Center this Sunday, but the group will be a bit larger on this visit and if I share at all, it will need to be short. The emphasis, however, is always on the Holy Ghost, each of us fully understanding that this is His ministry, not ours, these kids needing water that flows from His fountain, not ours. My thoughts are yet on “life”, Wednesday’s meal served at the rescue mission still cooking within me. Placed in the hands of the Master Chef, “leftovers” can feed the hungry, steak and potatoes turned into a cheeseburger deluxe with fries. Our congregation’s “mileage already covered” is the biggest factor here; but, in truth, the soul inside the package is eternal, a man’s spirit aware early on in this journey that there is a void in his existence… Yesterday afternoon I read a woman’s explanation of time, in the sense of it not being “a healing balm to all wounds”, but merely extending to us “space”. She is on staff within the framework of a Presbyterian church, at times bringing forth the sermon; but, above all, she’s a mother who is yet dealing with the tragedy of her son committing suicide a few years ago and her description of dealing with such hurt, likening it unto “taking all of your pieces and lying them out on a battered bench after a day at the beach, rearranging them into new patterns” spoke to me. While the flow contains us, our progress within it being “upstream” and our continual challenge being to keep ourselves “above water” in spite of whatever comes “downstream” against us, surely there are those moment when all of us question if there’s any rhyme or reason to any of it. Our stories no doubt vary in many ways. That inner scenario, however, is common to mankind, a condition initiated in Eden and remedied at Golgotha, His resurrection transforming a stagnant pool into a well that never will run dry. That’s more than a message. That is a tangible reality that confirms itself!......

Thursday, July 18, 2013

""Union Terminal...................."

Forty-one years ago this past March 27th I knelt in my living room and cried out for help, the father of three girls, the husband of one wife, and failing miserably in both roles. What came to me there, in all my despair, was an encounter wherein there was this unexplainable feeling of having suddenly been cleansed, so much weight lifted from me that it seemed as if walking was a new experience to be learned all over again. My knowledge of Christ was minimal, neither of my parents having been church goers and the Bible a book previously never opened. The moment was pivotal, therefore, not in any doctrinal definition I could apply to it, the truth of it being a permanent re-connection, a well to which I could return again and again, not yet fully in my understanding of the event. The journey forward would teach me, of course, sermon after sermon delivered from the pulpit, several shelves stuffed with the works of numerous well-known authors, the need to dig into the Word for myself an important part of a process wherein a theology was developed out of life as it came to me. Yet, if the truth be told, my belief, as held in my mind, is by no means an unchangeable, dogmatic picture of God. The Creator can’t be put into a box; and if we approach Him in such manner, all we have is religion. Jesus said He came to give us “life”… This, then, is the message I shared with the men at the rescue mission last night, the idea that salvation is not a matter of some singular, denominational credo we own and attempt to force-feed others, but an inner reconnection wherein two become one, if only momentarily. His crucifixion and the resurrection bought for us a “filling station”, an oasis where, even though we’ll never entirely conquer the enigma of it all, we can nonetheless be assured in the reality of His promise; and, from that point, it’s a stumble down the path, but one wherein we are anchored to Him and each other……

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Well Water..............."

The nearby creek was reduced to no more than individual, shallow pools, a small trickle of water flowing over bedrock connecting them and eliminating stagnancy. A thick, heavy blanket of heat was over everything, temperatures in the mid-nineties and predicted to stay that way for at least a week or so. I was driving out to the church with the intention to accomplish my three-mile walk on the running track in an air-condition gymnasium, but with no plans other than that for the rest of the day. Tomorrow there’s a six-hour refresher class on my schedule, a yearly mandate for we who work in Special-Ed, a lesson on defensive techniques designed to protect both ourselves and the child should anger issues arise. Six weeks yet remain before school officially starts, however, and with all that time, for the most part, just space to occupy, nothing penciled in calendar-wise, it is easy to slip into a mundane existence, eat, sleep, read a book, take a nap, eat, and sleep some more. Purpose is found in a connection with Him. Without it, boredom sets in… The service this past Sunday evening was rote, more exuberance than Holy Ghost in our midst; and I say that with no wish to suggest someone or something was at fault for a lack of our catching the hem of His garment. We come together; we worship; but a manifestation of His presence remains a blessing He gives, not an encounter we, ourselves, create. If Psalm 22:3 would seem to suggest a God who inhabits the praise of His people, let it be noted here that whatsoever worship we would offer must originate out of a surrendered spirit. All too often, humanity being humanity, what we as a congregation, bring to the table is no more than fatigue, and a tendency to “operate on auto-pilot”. If contact occurs, it is but His grace tugging on the anchor-line, His rod and staff bringing us back to center, not some sacrifice on our part. Mercy aligns us. Humility unlocks the door….

Sunday, July 14, 2013


With many having volunteered themselves to work last week as staff at Youth Camp, Saturday evening service was missing a few familiar faces. Worship, however, was no less than all hearts surrendered in a musical praise of His name. The young woman who now pastors this group has a story to tell, a witness received, her life testifying to the message she brings. It is Pentecostal in its content, from beginning to end, void only in any mention of the Holy Ghost and indicative of where our group has gone over the last few decades. In quoting a John Hagee opinion that “What you memorize is what you utilize”, she spoke of “the enemy being afraid of me using God’s Word”, each of us, as believers, having been given “all power and authority” to swing the sword in this daily battle we all face and victory a matter of standing our ground in faith. It does preach well; it is the mindset of the mass; and it probably shouldn’t bother an old man in its abandonment of basic Scriptural truth. In Zechariah, the prophet declares “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord” and, while only one verse, it clearly points to the Bible, inspired though it be, apart from our knowing that same anointing, being susceptible to all that our humanity, in its tendency to stumble down the path, brings to the picture. I have come to the conclusion, however, that our theology and our character are two points always “under construction”, at least in so much as we are willing to surrender them to the Holy Ghost. God is at work in all us. Some of us just need to give the other fellow the same grace He bestows upon our own mess, indeed, this morning’s sermon dealing with “fences” that we yet build around us, even in Christ, bringing me forward to an altar for the first time in a long time……

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Late Thursday evening my youngest daughter called me from the church youth camp, choked up, tears in her voice, relating to me how all four of the grandkids attending were submerged in His presence up at the altar. This was no doubt the deepest McKenna, about to turn thirteen, has ever been into such waters. Her mother has returned every year since she, herself, went the first time, the five-day event packed with three services daily and, other than some sports competition, the only other attraction for these teens being romance. A tight rein is held, though, insuring “love in bloom” goes no farther than conversation, a walk together in the midst of a crowd where an adult eye is always present, conversation in the dining area sharing a coke with friends. It is this heavy encounter with the Holy Ghost, though, that marks the event. To say it occurs every night would be a lie. The Spirit dictates His own appearance, the water rising to different levels, the arena not the same every time, a sanctuary not defined by its pulpit and pews, but by willing hearts feeling a tug on their heart, sensing that knock on their door and surrendering to a reality that confirms their faith. Yet, as powerful as this moment of fusion can be, through the years I’ve found it to be no guarantee of any individual’s commitment to the relationship and it makes me wonder if we, as a group of believers, haven’t failed to teach (as much as any of us understand this provision of the Gospel) what “Christ in me” really means. How can anyone, having experienced more than a “mental conversion” (with no attempt here to isolate a “Pentecostal speaking-in-tongues baptism into His identity” as the only immersion out there), walk away afterwards with no desire to know it again? It happens. Not so sure about the “no desire”, it being hard to determine what is going on inside another person, each of us dealing with our own history, hurts, and hard-headedness. In truth, this is a journey and the best I can do is be a father and a grandfather to these whom He has given me, a vessel through which He can witness, not via chapter and verse, but by manifestation of that which I profess to possess in Him. Either He lives, or we’re just playing with religion. I am grateful for His grace as we go……

Friday, July 12, 2013


I have in my possession about fifteen rather lengthy blog entries posted more than five years ago by an Episcopalian minister who administrated the affairs of a huge homeless shelter located within the inner city of Atlanta. Somewhere along the way, as usually happens with most of us who enter this world of voicing our thoughts in this arena, his well ran dry (the history already accumulated, not his devotion to such divine appointment, each new day another story in itself); and as the space between his sharing grew longer, eventually we lost contact with each other. Every now and then I pull these copies from a folder on my desk, attempt a search to renew our acquaintance, but come up empty other than the meal yet contained within his words. Some of it is humorous: the fellow who asked for overnight shelter, but would not enter unless Fred, a dead fish contained in a peanut-butter jar full of milky, polluted water can stay with him, also; an old man (recently widowed, as it would later be learned) who simply wandered away from relatives, his only possession a lawnmower which he refused to surrender; a young mentally challenged individual whose parents’ recent demise brought him “down out of the hills”, seeking refuge from a home with a dirt floor and staying long enough to become self-supporting beyond the mission. It isn’t all comedy, however. This is “down in the trenches”, life-as-it-is accounts of serving those within our society struggling with addiction, with an inability to face the mystery as it came to them, with simply the genetics dealt them at birth. How easy for some of us to diagnose and dismiss the problems, to demand our denominational cures, to dogmatically discern one’s conversion as an immediate altering of all that we are. My friend knew better. He took hope in seeing little changes, insignificant sometimes in terms of “spiritual enlightenment”, but huge in the sense of self-respect gained, battles won. It doesn’t all happen overnight. The journey is not a daily “walk in the park”. The picture is one of poverty, of the human condition as it exists outside stained glass windows and padded pews, and of “Christ in me” as it was meant to be in our life. Not all, of course, are called to such extreme. Each of us must deal with our own situation, our own “tug on the anchor-line”, our own response to the shaping that comes with being placed on the Potter’s wheel. I am thankful for a witness that makes me think…..

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Our teacher brought forth a great lesson last night, taking the sixth chapter of Acts and showing how Steven’s defense, as presented to the Jewish Sanhedrin, actually centered on God, through Christ, re-establishing His “temple” within the believer. I kept quiet, for the most part, reading a few verses aloud when asked, sharing a couple of remarks off topic here and there, the kind that are a part of any setting when friends get together, but offering my thoughts concerning how well Christianity, in general, responds to that particular message was left for this page, this moment. I felt no prompting in the classroom. Here, it is just me and my opinion, for what it’s worth… Why is it that the Church, in preaching the truth of Calvary and the Resurrection being about men once again knowing the Holy Spirit as an indwelling, either reduces the reality of such gift to an empty “person-less”, His identity just a doctrinal credo, or attempts to usurp for ourselves that which He, alone, is able to accomplish through us, our humanity always an obstacle to be overcome? Indeed, if this Gospel is what it claims, then the written Word, itself, is not “supernatural” in the sense that I, or anyone else, can utilize it as a weapon, a sword whereby a man can create his own structure out of denominational dogma, holding his Maker prisoner therein. The Bible is a promise confirmed by Christ “in” me, and that translates to a man walking with an inner connection to his Creator, one in which the journey is governed by a surrender to His rod and staff, His tug on the anchor-line, His anointing as it comes to him along the way. At one point last night, the teacher spoke of how our mission within the Body equated to carrying on the “life” of Christ; and I silently pondered as to why we who make such a profession are so prone to dismissing that term in so far as our merely being a vessel for the Holy Ghost. It is He, alone, that sparks our existence, breathing into us and breathing through us all that He is……

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


”The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend”…Henri Bergson

The above author was a Jewish atheist philosopher (if those first two terms can be used together) who convinced many thinkers that immediate experience and intuition are more significant than rationalism and science for understanding reality. I watched an episode of “Perception” last night whose theme centered on this particular quote and no doubt took any truth encompassed by it to an extreme. Who among us, though, hasn’t at one time or another stared directly at someone or something right in front of us and failed to capture the picture in its entirety? My own mind turns to incidents involving driving, i.e. checking the oncoming traffic before margining into it and not registering the guy on the motorcycle at all because cars have my complete attention. Worse yet, how often has the old man, while on the road, been lost in thought and, looking up, discovered he doesn’t remember a portion of the distance behind him? The question becomes, however: Is such illusion limited to that physical connection between our eyes and our brain, or is there also just as much potential for us to “lose the obvious” in our reasoning? Is there a spiritual side to this that’s comparable, our grey matter collecting data, but our heart and our will refusing to accept a truth solidly set before us? The inner man is a strange commodity, an identity forged out of genetics as well as history and environment, individual each time it is packaged, yet judged, at least to some degree, by all others who co-inhabit this space we refer to as “life”. Even with God’s anchor-line reconnected, the mind of Christ alive within us, humanity is prone to error; and progress requires regular “check-ups”, adjustments made through a daily commitment to prayer. “Thy rod and Thy staff,” penned the Psalmist, “they comfort me.” So I believe……

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


With isolated thunderstorms yet in our forecast for the next few days, Monday was hot and muggy, a sky full of huge, white fluffy clouds that permitted the sun’s heat to sit on us like a heavy blanket. With the park still off limits, I decided to just drive out to the church and utilize the gym’s running track for my “daily” three-mile walk. The place is locked up, but almost never void of human presence. A staff occupies some offices on the upper level and a day-care operates on the lower. Other than a custodian, a secretary, and one or two others who manage administrative tasks, though, rarely will one encounter one of the assistant pastors, their duties taking them elsewhere, hither and yon, ministry, visitation, and situations that arise. Life is more than a Sunday sermon. Community requires connection, reaching out as well as drawing in... This morning a friend posted on Facebook that “Churches are individuals, each with its own character, personality, strengths and weaknesses”, a view I’ve long held, myself. Doesn’t that, though, identify the Body of Christ as being susceptible to its own humanity? It occurs to me that, in spite of our “intelligence” distinguishing us from all other beasts created in Genesis, the only thing that keeps us from exhibiting the “animal nature within us” is a willingness to yield ourselves unto a union with God and our neighbor. While a theology will always be a part of our faith, if it isn’t a work in progress, all we have is a religion. Meaning is in a flow, coming to us and through us from a Father who originally designed us in such fashion, His grace, love, and compassion intended not to just fill the vessel, but to overflow it. Losing one’s “savor” is a condition leading to divine rejection and it doesn’t just apply to the hypocrite in our midst. Any of us can develop it in our stumble down the road, indeed, a congregation, as a whole, is not immune. Jesus didn’t escape the tomb only to be locked up in another. No matter the weather, He lives! The question is: is He alive in me?……

Monday, July 8, 2013


Arriving at the park this morning for my daily three-mile orbiting of the soccer field, I discovered it closed, the flood Saturday evidently causing more damage on that side of the creek than that which we experienced here. From the view accumulated on the way home, mostly it is merely debris left behind and some fence needing to be replaced, clean-up that no doubt will take a few days. Talking with a friend earlier, I listened to his description of moving from several miles outside Montgomery to just outside Atlanta, he and his wife in their early sixties and trying to make everything owned in one box now fit inside another no simple “walk in the park”. Tomas Halik suggested that “Truth is a book that none of us have read to the end”. I’m not so sure that the words “truth” and “life” aren’t, at least in some ways, interchangeable. Old age, as much as known thus far, is not for wimps. When one gets to this point, it helps to possess a faith that goes deeper than a mental theology developed along the way; and, while the Church might well be somewhat responsible for what we believe, it is we, ourselves, who will one day answer for the journey. It doesn’t matter whose pew you occupy as you go. It’s not whose denominational, doctrinal dogma you choose to accept. It’s what you learn in the next step, how much you surrender to Him in your continued stumble down the road. The Bible, in spite of its divine inspiration, is a message delivered through an earthen vessel and deposited into but another clay container much the same. I am in agreement with the above author when he states: “Those who wish to seek the living God and truly follow Christ must have the courage to learn how to swim in deep water, not in the shallows”; for, as he also declares: “The indwelling is paradoxical. It encompasses “already” and “not yet”, the mystery now with us, yet at the same time always yet to come”. The ecclesiastical body may well stand for authority in our life, at least to some degree, but the real teacher is (as John puts it) the “anointing”, the Holy Ghost “in” me day by day. My mother-in-law left this world speaking in tongues, her worship of Him confirming an unbroken connection known for decades. Glossolalia aside, I want to be likewise “plugged in” when the hour for that final relocation arrives….

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"The Tie That Binds....."

The world outside my window Saturday morning was another soggy grey drizzle, nothing of such concentration, seemingly, as to threaten those who live along the nearby creek, but one just never knows the volume of the downpour in the hillside subdivisions that surround us. About ten o’clock my daughter, with a better view of the situation, called to advise us of the waters having crossed the road and now inching toward her front door. Fortunately, however, as it has on other occasions, the pool ceased to rise some fifty feet or so from the cars parked in her driveway; and, with the sky actually clearing for a few hours, by three-thirty or so nothing remained other than a few large puddles captured here and there, that little Methodist church that sits up by the bridge, as far as I know, suffering the most damage. As Beth and I passed on our way to dinner, we saw a fire-engine and a couple other vehicles at that location, the flood, no doubt, having penetrated their lower level to some degree. Surely, though, this particular congregation has clean-up down to a science, such event nothing that hasn’t happened several times before in the past two or three decades. This is “home”, though, the families filling its pews generationally linked, committed to its survival. Service will be held today as usual. Christ will be in their midst... Some old, Tomas Halik quotes resurfaced in my reading this weekend, the Czechoslovakian Catholic priest having no problem in expressing his personal rejection of Pentecostal format. Referring to “tongues” as a “psychological regression into baby talk” and describing our worship as an environment which encourages us to “pray down, shout, weep, and clap (our)selves out of our anxieties” while being “cradled and caressed” by people of “like tendency and often with bigger problems”. Yet he also concludes that “The Church is a mystery for us, for we do not know its boundaries, just where it begins and ends, who belongs and who doesn’t, many thinking they are inside but are outside, and vice-versa.” How about his opinion that we all yet, in the Church, “still encounter attempts to understand God by hemming knowledge about Him into dogmatic definitions and binding our relationships with Him into a straitjacket of a legal system”? I loved it, then, when he confesses to a revelation of sorts last Easter, one wherein he was struck by the Gospel accounts of meeting with Christ after the resurrection, how His own followers failed to recognize Him through signs of His outer appearance. It took His “breaking of the bread”, His speaking their name, and finally the experience of their actually touching His wounds. Isn’t such point where we are all connected in Him? The rest is merely our identity, our individual perspective acquired along the way. This morning I sat in my own pew; but my spirit was with these just a short distance from my home whose faith, in spite of the storm, remains anchored in that One who indwells them…..

Friday, July 5, 2013


For the last few days in this neck of the woods, all we’ve known is rain, that mixture of huge dark and white clouds seemingly stuffed into a space not big enough to contain them becoming a solid grey blanket that leaks almost incessantly. At times it’s no more than a drizzle; but here and there it turns into a downpour, a deluge that, yesterday evening, transformed the nearby, usually docile creek into a raging current. It makes a turn several hundred feet up the road, passing under a bridge, the onrush at such times more than a tiny wall can defend and a small church positioned there is always the first to suffer the consequences. I walked over there earlier this morning in the “drippy-drip” to investigate the situation, pleased to discover the waters had dropped at least four feet, the level previously about to flood the parking lot and fill their Sunday school rooms. A lone heron took to flight as I turned to reverse my route and return home. Hopefully the wetness yet predicted will not be of sufficient volume to threaten us again so soon… Hope: that word has been utilized a lot lately by those who occupy our sanctuary pulpit. It’s almost as if the definition of “faith”, as preached to us for the last four decades, has finally been realized to be erroneous in its demands. Nobody is abandoning the premises of such commodity being both a trust cultivated within us and a boldness that comes to us in a merger with the Holy Ghost; but I am hearing less of that “name it and claim it” theology wherein arrogance equates to divine authority transferred so as to operate out of our own “stinkin thinkin”. It could be just me. It does sound, though, like the idea of one believing, daring to trust God for the future and being faith-“ful” no matter what tomorrow brings, assurance found in an anchor-line connection that reaches “through the veil”, is starting to be the theme. Can it be we’ve weathered the fog at last?.....

Thursday, July 4, 2013


”The present world we live in does not have much use for God as a living reality. It finds a dead God who can be used to justify dead systems more manageable. That is why the path of contemplation is so difficult, because to walk that path we have to come to the edge of those myths which give our lives meaning and look down into the nothingness surrounding them”……Monty Williams, SJ, “Stepping Into the Mystery”

Our Wednesday evening Bible class, in truth, was a bit “dry” for me last night, the sixth chapter of Acts being merely documented evidence of that initial group of believers being yet human and one of the “deacons” elected to solve the problem being “full” enough of the Holy Ghost so as to find himself brought before the Jewish Council, accused of blasphemy. Our teacher, for whatever reason, elected to build our lesson around “wisdom” and our ninety minutes was mostly spent in quoting Scripture, looking for a definition of such term. There wasn’t much “spelunking” at all, no real investigation of the Gospel, just discussion wherein the obvious, our propensity for error, was illustrated by numerous stories, most of them told by the guy up front. It was enjoyable; but no real expedition into the “meat” of Christianity… I “borrowed” the above quote from Hope’s blog (the link is to the right), some things that she, herself, said, igniting my thoughts as well. In pointing to a discovery that it was her beliefs, not her faith, that suffered having been “rocked off its foundation” in a battle with cancer, she reasoned “I’ve been fighting against how other people think God works, fighting against how I think God should work” and then, in suddenly realizing “Oh! I don’t know how God works”, allowed her spirit to embrace one sentence that was, in her words, “both manageable and unmanageable, too”. “It is a start,” she said; “It is a start.” For me, there was a connection. This was never a matter of claiming truth equated to my interpretation of the Book, never a ministry of thumping denominational tenets in an attempt to accumulate more converts. It’s been a mystery from the beginning, a “born-again” conversion forty-one years ago “merely” providing me an inner anchor-line securing me in my stumble down the road. My life in Christ isn’t a theology written in concrete, but a journey wherein each and every day comes to me as a lesson in learning my original potential, my present purpose in Him. I’m the biggest part of any enigma, His patience with me something called “grace”, His depths more than I can ever conquer……

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


The sky was no more than a thin grey blanket overhead, a reflection of the fog covering my brain as I began my three-mile exercise orbit of the soccer field this morning. Aspirin had thus far failed to completely eliminate the sinus headache that aroused me from slumber earlier, but my thoughts nonetheless contemplated the church service last night, trusting “auto-pilot” in so far as navigating the laps. Beth had accompanied me on that occasion and my usual perch in the balcony, therefore, was abandoned for seats about four rows back from the altar. The worship music was a tidal wave at that location, the volume enough to swallow you in its substance, no doubt merely an old man’s opinion. We had chosen to endure the location, though, sacrificing our ears for a better view of the granddaughter who would be participating in a drama interpretation scheduled later, one in which Barabbas was portrayed as the embodiment of all men, God, not Pilate, being the authority for his release, and Christ expressing through such grace His love for all. While that message was nothing new to me, somehow, through an anointing that was on the kids, and to me if nobody else, there was this moment within it when, in spite of all my disagreement with much of what this bunch of Pentecostals believe nowadays, I was nonetheless “one” with them, connected in the very depths of who we are in Him. Theology mattered not. Format was dismissed. These were “my people”. It lasted but a few minutes, the knowledge of His presence in our midst slowly receding, but without leaving altogether. The women’s Gatlinburg retreat group would next share and, in their witness, we would once again find ourselves swimming in such waters, testimony after testimony drawing us into a communion that needed neither cup nor crumb to signify its sanctity. Now, with a vision of such experience yet fresh on my mind, I circled the track considering how, in truth, we all are “walking our own course”, each of us with our individual story to tell, our particular view of the journey as it has come to us, the details formed in accordance with our history, our environment, and our own identity. What we get is an “anchor-line”; and one day we will all give an account for how well we maintained a relationship with it. In the meantime, what’s important is not that we see all things alike, but that we find Him in all things……