Monday, October 14, 2013


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

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

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

Or how about this one:

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 12, 2013


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

Friday, October 11, 2013


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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


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

(the link to “Monk” is on my sidebar)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


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

Saturday, October 5, 2013


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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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

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