Saturday, September 27, 2014


”What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday morning, a little after eight, my wife still in bed, me and the pup up for nearly two hours already, me deep in thought, he interested only in his freedom gained from the cage he occupies overnight. The above quote is an old one, rediscovered via my usual “dumpster diving” at this time of day. That’s probably not the best term to use, such exercise, for me, more like exploring some large flea market and looking for “buried treasure”, in this case not objects, but words, thoughts expressed by others that touch me inwardly, capturing my heart, stirring my mind. Indeed, I collect such finds in bits and pieces, storing them away to revisit again and again. “Metanoia is a Greek term”, an acquaintance once wrote, “with a more expansive definition than its frequent translation of ‘repentance’. Its meaning incorporates the idea of a turn in direction, a change of heart. I am not yet ready for such a transformation, but I am experiencing slight nudges toward whatever life will be in the wake of a devastation that loss of child entails, a return to ‘what once was’ is foreclosed, but I’m willing to think in terms of inclination toward something new. ‘To incline’ implies a degree of hesitation, a certain fragility, an experimental move, some of which might describe the present. Metanoia, I think, is for the long term.” She was transitioning through what all of us hope we’ll never have to face; but, in truth, none of know what tomorrow may bring and, for that matter, have no real understanding of the past. Look back, there are things I regret, decisions made, stupidity on my part. Reflection, though, doesn’t hold me captive other than pondering much of the enigma as to how much was just me staggering down the path and how much was His anchor-line tugging on the inside long before I ever realized He was there……

Friday, September 26, 2014


Many years ago I sat in a Sunday school class under a teacher who declared it impossible for two believers to give the Gospel to others unless they both held the same theology. To which I replied, “Give him to me. We’ll just share Christ and discuss our differences later.” Last night found me seated with six others around a rectangular table in the rectory at Holy Cross, invited by a friend to join his weekly men’s group. It was an enjoyable experience for me, albeit a bit uncomfortable at first, realizing dogma separated us somewhat and an initial request for us to share ten minutes of silence leaving me praying only that the cellphone inside my jacket wouldn’t suddenly come to life with “Anchors Aweigh”. There were seven of us there, three, including me, possessing obvious longevity, Father Barnes positioned where he could easily direct questions to all concerning Ron Rolheiser’s book, “Sacred Fire”. My original intention was to say little, listen a lot, and to simply show my gratitude for being there at all. Prayer, beforehand, sought His presence to use my tongue should it operate in any manner, knowing the differences in dogma and my ability to “open mouth, insert foot”. As it happened, as I should have known, when swords aren’t drawn and nobody’s out to clone the other fellow’s experience, the Holy Ghost in each of us attracts our individual flames, making us one in Him. Freedom was there to speak openly, Jesus the center of what was shared and alive in those words that came forth. The “Tower of Babel” operated in reverse, linguistics unable to divide the truth of Jesus connecting us through the Cross. What an evening, a banquet, indeed, and a privilege to be with others, He in our midst. We, it seems to me, make our own walls. He passes through them……

Thursday, September 25, 2014


"I don't like when precious things slip through people's fingers - especially things that seem defenseless or under-celebrated, but also unheralded people who may have said sensible things at a certain time in history, but who were completely drowned out by other people. Or minor poets whose lives were instructive. Sometimes I'm astounded by the absence of sentimentality in other people. How can you not become attached to the poignant scraps that flow through life?" - Nicholson Baker (borrowed from Whiskey

Whenever they show us the inside of one of those health spas, be it a commercial or a sitcom, it is always inhabited by well-endowed specimens of both genders pumping iron or burning rubber on a treadmill. The walking track around the soccer field at the local park, however, especially early in the morning, is not the same scenario. Mostly, what one finds there is the older generation, those who have, obviously, just lately came to the opinion that exercise might be good for you. (Try to imagine Tim Conway’s unforgettable portrayal of that elder gentlemen so along in years that his gait almost has him going backwards, moving along side by side with Dom DeLuise who is coping with all his rotundness, and the two of them trying to keep pace with each other) Nobody is in a hurry. Few are taking it seriously. It’s just some fresh air, sunshine, and another day. Me? I count myself blessed. My 73rd orbit of the calendar ends in a couple of weeks and any health issues are undefined at the moment, my choice to let nature run its course, tomorrow left in God’s hands, in His wisdom. No medicine. No doctors other than a bi-yearly checkup where I’ve managed, thus far, to balance my cholesterol and blood pressure with a planned reduction in whatever weight has accumulated along the way. I recently mentioned “Prevagen”, a newly advertised product said to be able to help one’s grey matter function somewhat better, to a friend who immediately searched it out on the computer, but gave it a “thumbs-down” upon learning its consistency comes from the brains of jellyfish. She made me laugh, her disdain taking me mentally to Patrick and SpongeBob, a duo whose intelligence is probably not all that superior to mine as it presently exists. What’s life without some laughter? Whether you’re looking forwards or backwards, the next step needs a bit of humor, some forgiveness, and purpose, even if the latter amounts to nothing more than making a statement that you haven’t yet abandoned the journey. "Bravo!" therefore to all those who tread the path, last minute decision or not. It's a great place to think, to realize you're still breathing fresh air, to enjoy the warmth of the sun rising in the east, and to let your thoughts intertwine with His. There's more to life than just "me", a lot of other people out there, wounded, hurting, bound. How can we occupy it with no tug on our heart concerning the wounded, the hurting, the bound, the enigma of it all, the wonder of it all; and not thirst to see it through His eyes......

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Beth and I had dinner last night with a couple of friends, good people, both involved down through the years with missionary work in Mexico, but currently hindered in their return to such area, too much drug cartel danger presenting a threat. The wife is the preacher and several times during the hour or so together tried convincing me to participate in an upcoming inner-city outreach. Heroin here in northern Kentucky is a major problem and this coming week a huge outdoor meeting has been scheduled, a huge number of churches taking the Gospel outside the sanctuary to the streets. No “inner Voice” thus far tugging on my heart. If I do go, persuasion will come from that source. In reading Rolheiser’s new book “Sacred Fire”, his thoughts sent me investigating three different ways that people are convinced by others to accept, to act, to adopt the other’s reasoning. “Ethos” is a term defined as the author’s “character” or “credibility”. We listen to those who impress us in some “intelligent” way, their reputation preceding them and providing some foundation for faith. “Pathos” has more of an emotional meaning, the speaker’s message invoking sympathy, drawing pity, or invoking anger from those before him. “Logos”, then, simply implies logic, utilizing facts and statistics that speak for themselves. My own preference, be it listening to the other guy or in me attempting to minister, to the kids at the Center or the men at the mission, is a balance of it all that hopefully comes forth in a manifestation of His reality. In witnessing, what I try to do is just, not get “self” out of the whole scenario, that’s almost impossible; but one can surrender “self” unto His anointing and achieve a place where He connects with hearts, He supplies the text. The third element, though, remains with the fellow in the flesh. Ethos is a matter of me being faithful in my commitment, honest in my humanity, and sincere in my compassion, giving God the glory while allowing Him to use the moment. The ground, at Calvary is always level and, likewise, the old man is always “under construction” with another lesson to be learned…….

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Lily Pads......................."

Worship with my bunch Sunday, both services, was vibrant, but failed to ignite this old man for the most part. The pastor’s morning sermon had me disagreeing with him in so far as several key points he made about faith and an unexplainable weariness drained me of all enthusiasm. I sat there feeling “guilty” and “grumpy”. It was much the same that evening, it seeming to me like the first twenty minutes of his message doing little more than reciting Old Testament history to us and most of it having nothing to do with his proclaimed subject of the prophet Amos being a “burden bearer”. Suddenly, though, it all got personal, the Holy Host providing an anointing that spilled over into the congregation, His presence filling the sanctuary, not to a complete immersion, but deep enough to make all there one in Him, final altar call a sea of people praying with each other. Indeed, nothing else mattered. When Christianity reduces Christ to anything less than a resurrected reality reconnected within us, it becomes nothing more than another religion, a list of “thou-shalt-nots”, an agenda whereby we “save” ourselves. When Christianity exaggerates the indwelling to the point of usurping its identity rather than surrendering itself unto His flow, it becomes a charade wherein, sooner or later, our inability to “call things that are not as though they are” has to face the fact that He, not we, are in control. In many ways, it is amazing to me, not just that God gives us grace in the beginning, but that His patience with us endures us in this stumble down the road. It’s the “funny” thing about “church” to me. In spite of all our humanity, sometimes the inner valve on our connection with Him permits an inner flow of His presence so strong that one has to either step into the water or flee the sanctuary to escape it. Faulty theology, yours or mine, doesn’t matter. Messed up in some way, still struggling even “in” Christ? He takes you “through the veil”, if only momentarily, an “osmosis” of sorts wherein all that matters is that He knows you and is with you in the next step. Judgment Day will sort out all the rest, each of us facing the facts as they apply to both sides of the pulpit. In the meantime, what we have is whether or not we will allow His Spirit to minister in our midst. In such waters, even an old bullfrog loses his croak…….

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Shopping with my wife at Kroger’s yesterday, I wandered a few aisles over to search for something on my own list and bumped into my cousin doing much the same. That’s about the extent of our knowing each other in any sort of relationship, living within no more than a couple of miles apart, but basically in two different worlds in spite of such proximity. I like this guy, nonetheless, aware of at least a smidgeon of his history; and encounters are always enjoyed. His wife’s family were church people; he and she attended for several years; neither go anywhere anymore. In response to my inquiry, his excuse was “too many bad experiences incurred along the way, too much turmoil that he didn’t need in his life.” I can empathize. Yet, when he as much as reduced the Gospel, for him at least, to harmonizing the lyrics of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with some of his buddies, a closing “hymn” regularly sung at the end of a weekly get-together held in his garage, it hit me as somewhat of a shame that we, the body of Christ, fail one another so often in so many ways. In erecting doctrinal totem poles without providing any real depth as to the meaning of the Word, we leave people clinging to illusions, nonsense, and the “Bible says it and I believe it; but don’t look at me expecting an explanation.” Before service this morning, a woman spoke to me of how much she liked to hear this certain preacher well known for his sermons on eschatology. When I shared with her my own lack of enthusiasm concerning him due to his delivery being so fast that everything merely went in one ear and out the other, my brain unable to capture anything at such speed, she strangely agreed, admitting to having the same problem with him! Then a short video was shown us during the service depicting Jewish soldiers, linked together arm in arm and chanting “There is no god like Jehovah! There is no god like Jehovah!” Listening as the phrase was repeated over and over, the congregation began to applaud and give praise; yet, if polled, it’s safe to assume that all there would be quick to condemn them to hell for possessing no belief in a risen Christ! To me, it all gets silly sometimes. Judgment Day will, no doubt, sort it all out; and what holds me here, what cannot be denied, is an anchor-line connection maintained in a prayer closet. In the midst of it all, He speaks peace……..

Friday, September 19, 2014


Heraclitus, a 5th century Greek philosopher, noted that: “Whatever is, is changing. You never step into the same river twice, because the river is in constant flux and out of flux. In fact, it is nothing but flux. The only thing that is permanent is change.” Cratylus, his disciple, took such thought a step farther, declaring “Not only do you not step into the same river twice, you do not even step into the same river once! Why? Because the river is not the only thing that’s changing; you are changing as well. The same you is not constantly you. With the passing of each fraction of a second, your physical and mental makeup is imperceptibly in transition.” Not to be outdone, then, Parmenides, the disciple’s disciple, opined “Whatever is, is; for while things may appear to change in form, in substance they are permanent. Just as energy cannot be created or destroyed but is always there in some form, so life has an indestructibility to it.” Boil all of that down and it would seem to suggest the Biblical statement that, while within man exists eternity, yet there’s this present journey wherein everything, including man, himself, is in a constant state of metamorphosis, the puzzle always more than he can completely conquer and, as Yogi Berra once said: “Even nostalgia is not what it used to be.” I recently read somewhere the description of how our society is walking through a maze of cultural land mines and the heavy prices being exacted as we send our children on ahead. Has not that long been our history, however? If today seems any different than how it has always been, perhaps sit is only because we sense the possibility of having finally arrived at such point in time where we now have the capability to extinguish all that we know, the enigma not yet solved and our intelligence not quite what we believed it to be. For the religious, there is, of course, faith. And yet the question merely becomes “faith in what?” In what do we anchor our souls? In a doctrinal dogma stitched together out of our own reasoning? In a denominational list of “thou-shalt”s and “thou-shalt-nots”? Or in a resurrected Reality who long ago said of Himself that there was nowhere to lay His head, His only point of assurance found in a connection known with His Father. For me, that same umbilical cord is what feeds all else. Indeed, ANYthing else is just a theology under construction, developed as I go, following Him through the veil……

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


We return to the rescue mission this evening with three, maybe four, of us trying to squeeze into an hour what we bring to share. Somehow it always comes together, His voice, one message, just different perspectives. My own thoughts, at the moment, are focused on a few verses found in the Gospel of John, the scene one where Jesus has not only just healed a man blind from birth, but, as well, revealed unto him His identity as being the Son of God. To His disciples and to the Pharisees gathered there, however, Christ declares that it is “for judgment” He is come into the world, not in the sense of condemning people, but for eyes willing to admit of their need to gain vision. Indeed, He equates denial of one’s lack of understanding with the state of them living in “sin”. Note that it is the “church” to whom He is talking, those who consider themselves as having their salvation determined, defined, and delineated in a Book, their minds set in concrete, their ears closed to the One who was and is “the Word”. I was talking with friend this morning, via this blog, concerning people who seem afraid of exploring the deep, scared, I suppose, of getting “stuck” out there; but doesn’t it all depend on “whose hand you hold as you go”? Doesn’t the Gospel command believers to pick up our cross and follow? Psalm 23 declares “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters.” This has always been a journey. Sitting down in my own little perception of things, content with my righteousness, my status as certified by me, leads to atrophy and a witness that stinks. Give me a “hook in my belly”, a Holy Ghost leash and the next step. If that yet leaves me with a stumble, my own GPS subject to error, if my heart is set on Him, He shall not fail me along the way......

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” – Anais Nin

I am amazed at people who, in their old age, can mentally look back decades and, in great detail, describe some scene or event from the past. All this old man can achieve is “mental snapshots”. It was another world; and yet was never any more than this frail, fleeting, impossible-to-capture-other-than-in-passing moment that too soon joins all the rest. How much of it, I wonder, is real? How much is no more than a perception I, myself, hold of how it “is”, my definition, not His? A couple of reads this morning have sparked such thoughts, one reflecting childhood memories of a walk in the woods with her elders, the other speaking of something provoking our brains to reach back in time even while realizing all the distance traversed. Not only did the second speak of how “the strange has become familiar and the familiar, if not strange, at least awkward or uncomfortable like an outgrown garment”, but pointed, as well, to the journey being different for each of us, the birthright of some having provided adequate foundation to build upon and others burning bridges behind them in an attempt to escape what was. In either situation, however, it remains the same: we are connected via our brain to the past as we experienced it, or at least as we envisioned it. In science, this “ticking of the clock” is an enigma, another “piece of the puzzle”, vital to several of their theories and yet elusive to being solved in the sense of putting it “in a box”. With the universe supposedly existing in the form of a blanket, though, one not lying on a flat surface, but extended in “sound waves”, they propose that “black holes” (stars or planets that have inwardly collapsed) are possible “wormholes” capable of transporting one (should one survive the experience) across the “gap”. Backwards? Forward? Merely a fantasy in Hawking’s head right now; but probable in so far as his genius presently determines it. Then, again, maybe we all are mad. So far, in my life, the one thing, above all, that has proven itself and continues to make sense is this anchor-line in my “belly”. It secures me, in my regrets, in my fears, in my hope for whatever tomorrow brings. Let me know this through His eyes, His reins, the veil removed in Christ……

Monday, September 15, 2014


For whatever reason, the Susan G. Komen race against breast cancer was transferred this year from downtown Cincinnati to Coney Island, a small amusement park somewhat upriver. The day of the event was also changed from Saturday to Sunday. As it turned out, the switch was probably a big mistake. A large accumulation of traffic trying to escape I275 at the exit ramp was conquered, on our part, by taking the next one north and then approaching our destination from the other side; but, with only fifteen minutes to reach the starting point (we were pre-registered), the crowd was so great that we were forced to shuffle along, elbow-to-elbow, in a mass that would eventually join the tail-end of a stream of runners with a ten-minute advantage on us. At several places along the route, passages clogged the flow, unable to handle the mass of participants. The course, itself, was a matter of twice circling a large lake, with but two or three staff at one point vocally directing all first-timers to the left and second-timers to the right where an archway, about a hundred feet away, was “plugged” with too many people attempting to cross the finish line. Two other and I were the only ones in our group to catch the cue and complete the entire intended distance. It was, indeed, a mess. Nonetheless, when, in passing a couple of younger women and hearing one of them gripe, albeit in light jest, that “If it wasn’t enough that such poor planning had led to this disaster in so many other ways, how utterly boring it was to suffer the same scenery again on the second orbit!” No comment was shared by me; but I do admit to thinking to myself: “Yep; it’s kind of like having to get up the second day, still looking cancer in the face, and taking the next step.” Scientists say that “time” is relevant to our position and governed, at least in part, by speed. Perhaps time isn’t the only measurement affected by our perspective plus the need to slow down and think before we open our mouth……

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Black Holes..........................."

“Eagles may soar in the clouds, but weasels never get sucked into jet engines. The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. Then, again, the trouble with being in the rat race is: even if you win, you’re still a rat. But….you can’t have everything, can you? In fact, if you think about it, where would you put it?"....

My granddaughter always comes to Papaw with her "projects" and it looks like we are about to enter the theory of time travel with Einstein. Cogito; ergo sum. If that were true, at least in the way some have assigned meaning unto it, we’re all merely here because we think we’re here; and all one needs to do to accomplish quantum leap is to put his mind to it. Indeed, what is “sanity” if not being able to either ignore all the questions or to explain things in some manner so as to hold onto it all as if we know what we’re talking about? Humor helps. So does anchorage. Trouble is: most of us put our hook into our own reasoning, pour in some concrete, and then settle in for whatever comes against us. What we end up with is an idol. Whether fashioned from that which experience has taught us or from what culture and tradition has instilled in us, even if its form is shaped from sacred verse, if there is no “breath” in it, no life leading us somewhere, what do we really possess? Somewhere in this has to be that which takes us “through the veil”. Not that gaining understanding solves the whole enigma, but that assurance is found of this not being all there is! Grace discovered for the stagger in our stumble down the path! Faith doesn’t have to be manufactured, but found in a connection that doesn’t just transcend time, but another dimension! The Book points us to Him and is profitable for correction. Spirit, however, must go with us, not only through the Book, but the next step as well. There is an inner universe as vast as everything else out there, safe to explore if you’re immersed in the Holy Ghost, one with the Creator…….

Thursday, September 11, 2014


”The incarnation is not a thirty-three year experiment by God is history, a one-shot, physical incursion into our lives. The incarnation began with Jesus and it has never stopped. The ascension of Jesus did not end, nor fundamentally change the incarnation. God’s physical body is still among us. God is still present, as physical and as real today as God was in the historical Jesus. God still has skin, human skin, and physically walks on this earth just as Jesus did. In a certain manner of speaking, it is true to say that, at the ascension, the physical body of Jesus left this earth, but the body of Christ did not. God’s incarnational presence among us continues as before.” – Rolheiser, “The Holy Longing”

When I look at our flag, I do not see merely red, white, and blue, but those who gave themselves to the utmost defending that for which it stands. I do not see stars and stripes, but the basic principles originally set down in a preamble to a constitution. If our politicians appear to have forgotten values brought forth out of, not just a holy Book, but an inner well that connects us all, and if, indeed, much of our population no longer anchors its soul in the Gospel, that doesn’t change the horizontal umbilical cord connecting us as a nation. I’ve got to believe such “hook in our belly” is what took responders up into buildings about to crumble that day. When we lose respect for each other, when all that matters is “me”, we deny the very roots of our existence. Insert Christ and one can improve on that; but the addition is a personal choice, not a demand. Not God “bless” America; rather God “save” America from ourselves. God save a Church that, in many ways, seems to have either lost or confused that which the above author states. He and I could yet hold different views of what “incarnational presence among us” actually means, but he goes on to say that the Body of Christ “is not something that represents Him, but something that is Him.” Faith is not an adoption of moral works. It is an infusion of the resurrection in terms of our knowing His reality in all that we are and attempt. The journey is a stumble down the path, our humanity still part of the package; but any outreach, any witness, must come forth from a vertical flow that spills over into another man’s willingness to receive. The “sword” belongs to the Holy Ghost. May He defend us from our enemies and search our hearts with the same blade……

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I listened on the internet to a sermon preached the night before. Second night. Another packed-out revival crowd. The visiting “evangelist” took his theme from the Book of Genesis, comparing the story of Joseph to Christ in our present-day circumstances. In many ways, the events recorded are similar to what Jesus endured. No actual crucifixion; but certainly rejection; and the coat of many colors signifying authority unto the one assigned it and then equating to hope lost when its blood-stained fabric was shown as proof of its owner’s demise. Easy to understand the congregation’s enthusiastic applause and shouts of “Glory!”, “Amen!” when Jacob, sitting on Egypt’s throne was likened unto the Lord’s resurrection. It was a great message. No mention, however, was given to the more than four hundred years of bondage God’s people would know before His deliverance would part the Red Sea, nor the four more decades required in the wilderness trying to purge them of what life in Goshen had stamped into their identity. Just saying. While there’s often, no doubt, a good meal placed before us in the sanctuary, the pastor anointed and speaking from his heart, it doesn’t mean the whole enchilada has been served. You don’t get the entire Book in thirty minutes. Manna found on Sunday needs to be renewed on Monday. The journey demands returning to the well, digging in the depths, an anchor-line that holds you when nothing makes much sense. This isn’t like learning Algebra. You don’t graduate from Bible class with a diploma to prove how well you have solved the enigma and can explain it unto others. In truth, the gulf between Heaven and Earth was spanned through a connection in our “belly”, not our head. Too much room for error up there………

Monday, September 8, 2014


Sunday evening service began a four-night homecoming revival and the sanctuary, including the balcony, was packed like a tin can full of sardines. People were still arriving thirty minutes into the worship portion, some expecting and demanding front row seating. If the usher wasn’t wrong, mistaking an “ugly baby” for something else, one woman even lugged a hand-held carrier in with her occupied by a small dog. Individual chairs were squeezed into nooks and crannies, clogging aisle to the point of no quick emergency escape should the unforeseen occur. Leaving early only made it clear to me that “humanity” remains “humanity” no matter where one encounters it. The parking lot was a maze of vehicles left in any available space. Lanes were blocked, presenting an enigma that took me a few minutes to solve even though the exit was not that far from my car. To each their own; but that’s not my idea of “church”. I wonder, though, knowing that each of us can and do filter life through our own individual history, personality, genetics, and probably several more adjustable knobs. We see what we want to see and all too often miss what is right in front of us. The night before, with the Youth Detention Center scheduled for Sunday morning, my mind yet had no clear direction in so far as how to approach the kids with what was on my heart. Hoping to acquire a Bible verse through some solitude with Him, I unleashed the pup into the back yard and walked toward a bench there beneath some trees. Spook was running in circles around me, his hyper energy too much for this old man. Then, there on the ground about to meet me in my next step, was about a fourteen inch garter snake, frozen in its awareness of me, and me now frozen in the sudden realization of possible encounter. The dog jumped over it at least four or five times, yet never saw it, too wrapped up in his own silliness. Finally I grabbed the little white maniac, holding him by his neck, putting his face no more than a few inches from the reptile, but still gained in no way any awareness on his part of what was immediately before him. Gaining his freedom, he circled me once before plopping himself down right on top of that which he had not yet discovered and laid there panting for thirty seconds or so. When he finally trotted off for more mischief, the poor snake was in coils wondering what whale had held him hostage. I shook my head and continued for my original destination and something, someone, inside me whispered “Here’s what you were wanting.” Indeed, it was. The boys in my assigned unit laughed at the story, began to ask questions; and, for forty-five minutes we explored the Gospel with the Holy Ghost. This is ever a stumble down the path, with or without Christ. What we gain in Him is an anchor-line and the occasional poke of His rod and staff to awaken us to reality……..

Friday, September 5, 2014


"Whatever way you put it, I am here only because my world is here. When I took my first breath, my world was born with me. When I die, my world dies with me. In other words, I wasn't born into a world that was already here before me, nor do I live simply as one individual among millions of other individuals, nor do I leave everything behind to live on after me. People live thinking of themselves as members of a group or society. However, this isn't really true. Actually, I bring my own world into existence, live it out, and take it with me when I die." - Kosho Uchiyama

A visit to “Whiskey River” yesterday discovered the above quote, the thoughts expressed within it, coincidently, being what has entertained my mind the past few days. This author has confused world” with “life”, in my opinion, one’s departure from all that exists in no way eliminating all else. One’s perception of “the whole enchilada”, of course, might well be singular and subject to being lost if not written down in some manner; and maybe that’s really why some of us are drawn to scribble our identity, our reasoning and our fantasies, down on paper in some form or fashion. In truth, however, each of us possess no more than what our soul and our spirit have determined it to be and none of us have captured the whole as it really is. While I have never agreed with Rene Descartes, the man who once said “I think; therefore I am”, at least in the translation of it that all of society has assigned such phrase, yet there is, within it, a certain “ring of reality” wherein it can be said that each of us hold our own particular image of this journey and walk within it as we see it. Having eyes, vision is only as we determine it; having ears, hearing requires revelation to first penetrate our brains, not just pass through our ears,this why Jesus told Nicodemus that, before a man could “understand” and “enter into” the kingdom of God, he must be “born-again”. Without a reconnection, an internal “hook-up” whereby the Holy Spirit becomes available unto us, there is no direction, no purpose, just a stumble down a path that we, ourselves, determine, a zig-zag that stays with us even after rebirth in as much as we choose our will to His. The anchor-line is there to tug at our hearts. Stagger is a matter of learning that we can trust His reins to correct us as we go……

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Having talked with the Detention Center boys last Sunday on pursuing Christ “through the bull’s-eye”, via that inner point of connection established within us by the work of the Cross, my intention this week is to simply pose the following question: “Why is it easier to accept an unexplained universe, but hard to find faith in a tangible Creator?” If some would suggest the problem, in this country, at least, is the result of social media (music, movies, and television), along with an evolved corrupted educational system, having brainwashed our children, I tend to define it more in Biblical perspective: “For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God." Making such a statement, however, must also include the truth that we can’t just blame the situation, as it exists, on this present-day bunch, the thrust of the Gospel message, it seems to me, lost long ago. Then, again, maybe it is as it was meant to be: the reality of Christ “in” me being that treasure hidden in a field, and the Church, not the world, being that soil discussed in the Parable of the Sower. Now, there’s a shocker! An examination of the ecclesiastical institution as a whole, however, proves us with a Jesus who comes in various shapes and sizes, each with His own list of “Thou-shalt”s and “Thou-shalt-not”s, each with no real explanation for the claims we make concerning Him, simply a dictate that it’s either “Believe or go to hell”. We raise our children on “Father Abraham had many sons”, vacation Bible school, and a religious format; and then wonder why those who stay have no real depth. The “Pearl of Great Price” is right there in our midst, but all we possess in so far as sharing Him with others is doctrinal dogma passed from generation to generation. Tradition may alter it all somewhat as we go, but seed sown able to take root only in as much as it finds Him. Whether we’re ministering to kids locked up in a jail cell or attending their weekly Youth service, His resurrection must come forth. No reproduction. No self-inflated ego behind the pulpit. It is He who saves; and the procedure is a life-long process……..

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Exercising on my treadmill and needing a change of pace Monday morning (that phrase utilized not to suggest any altering of my gait), I switched from another Ravi Zacharias sermon to Jimmy Swaggart preaching on the present day status of the Church. No doubt there are those who would find him nobody to be addressing that particular subject, but separating the man from the message is something the journey taught me long ago. If humanity, as it exists in all of us, suspends grace, then the Gospel has lost its power. Redemption is just a word we, ourselves, have created, defined by our terms, not His. We’re good at that, it seems to me; and, over forty-two years down the road, while I find myself still seated within the ranks of Pentecost, enough has changed along the way, in both my thinking and theirs, that it’s no longer the same experience, service-wise. I watch from afar, content to wait on Him, wanting the “connection”, not just emotional exuberance. In other words, faith is not a matter of how much “grunt” one puts into their “name it and claim it”, praise should come up out of an inner well if it’s genuine, and worship is a surrender acknowledging His omnipotence. Anything less is just “us”. No foul assigned if freedom is permitted; no restriction necessary if common sense is observed; and, to be honest, pursuit rather than atrophy seems to me a good thing. Knowing Him in a “fusion”, however, whether to be used in a gift of the Spirit or to simply be immersed in the reality of all He is, doesn’t require any physical act. There is “stirring of the water”, a warmth that touches you from two flames becomes one, a bit of a breeze, perhaps, that takes you unaware; and suddenly there is no denying His presence meeting you right where you are. Healing. Assurance. Hope for whatever. Holiness is just another name for the Holy Ghost; and I’ve seen Him so thick over a congregation that people had to run for either the altar or the back door, one. It’s been a long time since such a manifestation has so enveloped us, so long that few are left who remember such occasions. My heart cries to know it again……..

Monday, September 1, 2014


For the first time in a long time, even though we were there occupying another church’s spot on the schedule, my group had the Youth Detention Center alone, as it fell to us, anointed, appointed, and split into three cell blocks, Liberty and Debi with the girls, Tony and I ministering, each to a different boys’ unit. My own “congregation” amounted to seven individuals, all in their late teens, less than half claiming any prior encounter with Christianity beyond what came to them here while incarcerated. Mostly I sat at that front table, talking to them, unable to get much dialog, questions or otherwise, yet, to a lad, all of them soaking up what I had to share. Never did there come any point of real conviction. Nonetheless, we laughed together at some experiences out of my own life, got serious with the Gospel, and enough seed was sown for the Holy Ghost to use when buddies weren’t there beside them, when evening “lights out” left them looking at the ceiling of their cell, when life as they knew sit began to be mentally pondered. Pushing with a “raise your hand if you want this” has never been where I operate, having seen too many accept the moment only to lose roots in the journey afterwards. “Peddling my totem pole” isn’t my passion. There is a reality one can acquire, a “hook in one’s belly” that secures the soul on high, an anchor-line relationship we might know in the midst of the storm. Tonight, in our evening service, while the sanctuary crowd, en masse, did not find itself submersed in the Spirit, at one point a handful of people stepped out to express that which was bubbling up within them, running, shouting, dancing in the altar area. It was Tom Smith, though, who connected with me. Never, in all the years I’ve known him, has he so emerged from the sidelines, quiet, humble, a worker, not just a “pew-member”. Now, before my eyes, he walked the aisles, hands trembling, gratitude pouring from his heart, worship who he was, not just part of the program. It fed my soul. This singularity was where I walked in at forty-some years ago. If much has changed along the way, this, at least, remains: Heaven and earth yet come together in Him. That is my focus. That I pursue......