Saturday, August 31, 2013


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

Friday, August 30, 2013


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

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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


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

Sunday, August 25, 2013


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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

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

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

Friday, August 23, 2013


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

Monday, August 19, 2013


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

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

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

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

Saturday, August 17, 2013

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

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

Friday, August 16, 2013


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

Thursday, August 15, 2013


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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


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

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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

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

Sunday, August 11, 2013


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

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

Saturday, August 10, 2013


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

Friday, August 9, 2013

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

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


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

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

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

Monday, August 5, 2013


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

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

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013


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

Friday, August 2, 2013


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

Thursday, August 1, 2013


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

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