Sunday, May 31, 2015


In ministry, I frequently point to the truth that, while those there, within the sound of my voice, will almost unanimously confess to a belief in God, no two hold exactly the same perspective of just who and what that word means to them. It would not be much different if such identity check was asked of any denominational congregation. That’s because no matter how well we think we have the Creator “in a box”, He defines us, not the other way around. It occurs to me, therefore, how, for the most part, what much of Christianity promotes is their individual theology, leaving the consumer on their own to discover whether there’s really anything inside the package; and, all too often, what fills the pews is little more than people with faith in their faith, not necessarily a solid connection with Divinity. Good people. Good intentions. The original message simply got buried under all the dogma along the way, humanity remaining humanity in spite of Christ in me. Indeed, those last three words, declared by Paul to be “the mystery of the Gospel”, yet pose an enigma beyond our ability to comprehend and, in many ways, are simply left for the believer to determine its reality on their own. Pray. Read your Bible. Good instructions; but, unless we learn the journey is changed only in as much as His tangible presence is with us in the next step, life is still life. On our own we are little more than dumb sheep. Tangible presence? What does that mean? How does one put that into any description where “one size fits all”? While it is my belief that the experience, itself, is a personal matter, one wherein, although the Holy Spirit can come to us in various manifestations, the circumstances are always orchestrated out of His wisdom, our surrender accomplishing more than any other effort we might be tempted to put into it. What is common to any and every encounter? The “point” where any real merger is ever achieved is always the same. It is out of our “belly” that living waters flow, our inner "plumbing” once again joined to the original “paternal umbilical cord” and the level of such depths merely a matter of how willing we are to be baptized into His grace…….

Friday, May 29, 2015


”"I think it is impossible to explain faith. It is like trying to explain air, which one cannot do by dividing it into its component parts and labelling them scientifically. It must be breathed to be understood" - Patrick White, Nobel Prize in Literature 1973

”For the first time in my life I understood the meaning of the word ‘never’. And it’s really awful. You say the word a hundred times a day, but you don’t really know what you’re saying until you are faced with a real ‘never again’.” – Muriel Barbery

While exploring a few previous internet encounters this morning, I found myself caught for more than just a few moments by this picture and the above quotes. The two were connected only in as much as my own mind explored potential relationship between them. The page, itself, was designed to inspire writers and, out of the variety there before me, this trio sparked something in my depths. In one sense, the memory of losing my father when I was but eighteen is yet as real as the day it happened. While a feeling of there being “a knife in my belly”, severing from me all possibility of ever again knowing his existence otherwise, may no longer seem more than my ability to bear, the words “never again” became quite clear to me long ago. How does that relate to this image of some book or manuscript destroyed by flames? For whatever reason, it spoke to me of Bible, of whether a man’s trust is anchored in a book or in the One who lives within its pages. There is, for me, a difference. With more than four decades in this now, I’ve known far too many who, out of disappointment with a doctrine taught and accepted, but didn’t hold up somewhere down the road, out of discouragement with a church whose humanity proved stronger than any manifestation of His resurrected reality, abandoned ranks and walked away. There may well have been no literal match applied to Scripture. Nonetheless, a belief once strongly confessed is reduced to ashes unless that which gave it life sprung from more than just chapter and verse. Either we know a “hook in our belly” or all we really possess is merely an illusion, a false sense of security anchored in our own stinkin’ thinkin’. Either His “paternal umbilical cord” has been reconnected to an inner point in the depths of all that we are, or our Christianity is not much more than religious ritual. If any would seek to know the difference, inhale; and if all you experience is more oxygen in your lungs, that, of itself, only serves notice of you yet being in this world…….

Thursday, May 28, 2015


”Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord; looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” – Hebrews 12:14

In 1972, the above Bible verse was but one of others strongly embraced within Pentecostal legalism, that high-lighted word, in particular, equating to most of its members as a state of existence able to be achieved if believers surrendered themselves to a dogmatic lifestyle supposedly marking a faith that was “in the world, but not of the world”. While there are probably yet those within our ranks who hold to such theology, we’ve come a long way since those days for the most part. That’s not to say, however, that all “standards” have been dismissed; and not to suggest that I, in my own journey, don’t accept a need for us to pursue whatever He might require of us as we go. What more than four decades in this has taught me, though, is that “conforming to the image of Christ” doesn’t translate to somehow changing my genetics and knowing a metamorphosis of some sort. My humanity hasn’t disappeared somewhere along the way. Any difference in me can be attributed to residual water yet left on me from my last dip in the pool. Any witness, hopefully, comes from His anointing and not my own efforts, lest it be tainted, more apt to hurt than help. Good intentions do not ensure error is not contained therein. Scripture teaches me that, not only can we yet come short of knowing God’s perfect will, we can also conclude that we, ourselves, ARE God’s perfect will; and, in doing so, can become nothing more than a garden full of weeds. The Holy Ghost, three-in-one, alone, is absolute truth, teaching me the Word again and again in the next step, pointing me to Jesus in this continual stumble down the road, and ever reassuring me that “grace” isn’t merely a religious term expressing forgiveness. Merger is a matter of surrender, not an arrogant assumption on my part; and it is to be sought in all that I am, in all that I do…….

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Life is no rollercoaster. It may well have its ups and downs, its share of unexpected curves, and a sudden stop much too soon; but reality is an illusion wherein one experiences the ride seemingly in slow motion. Only in looking back do we realize the distance covered; and finality, in terms of our existence, is a mystery yet to be determined. You can’t just purchase a ticket for another orbit. My group’s visit to the Youth Detention Center Sunday morning was special, finding an anointing that fused together the Gospel from five completely different perspectives and then drew four kids to return after the others returned to their cellblocks. Two of the boys would whole-heartedly ask Christ into their heart. The other pair sought an ability to witness of Him while there. My friends and I left the facility with our spirits rejoicing, no longer wading in the depths of His presence, but most assuredly still “wet” from the overflow. Evening church service fed me. Several hymns and a sermon on this occasion, however, while drawing some to the altar, didn’t connect with this old man’s “plumbing”, at least, for whatever reason, enough to “prime the pump”. The Holy Ghost in me was content to worship with me through an inner surrender, my gratitude and praise expressed openly, but more “one-on-one” than any fusion with the congregation. Monday, then, was a rainy day spent mostly inside with a book, some crossword puzzles, a bit of computer, and the warmth of my wife’s companionship while enjoying some television game shows. Today my Toyota needs to go out to a friend’s garage for an oil change. Nothing else is on the schedule other than perhaps taking our granddaughter to a nearby mall for a new set of earphones. It will be eight weeks before we return to the Detention Center. Circumstances are forcing me to miss the next rescue mission. I’m sitting here hungry for another “encounter” and hoping tomorrow’s Bible study class will, in some way, take us “through the veil”. Prayer, of course, isn’t penciled in on a calendar and always gives possibility of being more than “words”. In the meantime, there is a sense of knowing Him, of His resurrection waters not lying stagnant, but moving within my identity, a voice unheard and yet speaking to me in some mysterious form. ESP? Mind meld? I only know He’s there even when the thrill has dissolved into the next step, another day, nothing much going on. Faith is not in my head, but comes up out of my belly…….

Monday, May 25, 2015

"Through the Veil....."

Beth and I went to a wedding this weekend. It was one of three all scheduled for the same day, those “tying the knot” all associated with our church family; but, for us, this particular one special for us. The bride was my buddy Tony’s oldest daughter. I liked the simplicity of it: the groom and his bunch of “merry men” wearing no jackets, grey suspenders holding up their trousers and a bow tie giving it an air of formality; bridesmaids were dressed in purple, the bride in white, of course, but no one nor no thing so fancy as to suggest being in competition with others. The ceremony was short and those in attendance were already seated at tables in a reception hall. My kind of gathering; but to each their own. The one sadness to the whole affair was the groom’s father whose back pain was diagnosed just diagnosed a few months ago as terminal cancer. In his mid-fifties, he refused to dismiss the occasion, arriving in a wheelchair with his once large frame drastically reduced to almost beyond recognition. It was, for me, just one more evidence of theology preached to me over the last forty-three years that falls short of truth, the reason why Bible study and the next step is the recipe for following Him, not merely a sermon half-consumed and then abandoned, Christ no more than a mental image created out of our own reasoning and sealed in concrete. Whatever the future holds for each of us, our journey is not secured out of a faith anchored in “our faith”. Health, wealth, and prosperity are not conditions we can arrogantly claim through some confession of chapter and verse. What IS gained through our conversion is a connection, an inner well where we can know assurance of His grace, His wisdom, and His peace, His resurrected reality enabling us to meet and survive whatever tomorrow brings to us. We do not conquer “all things” out of our own strength other than investing it in a surrender unto He who holds it all in His hands. The Word does inform us that “hope” is an integral part of salvation as we go; but, always, it needs to rest in “Thy will, not mine be done”……….

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Instant in Season................"

Just before Tony closed in final prayer at the rescue mission Wednesday evening, I encouraged the men to learn that such petition was better accomplished in their belly, not their head. Christ emphasized the need for us to be “born-again”, declaring it impossible for us to “see” (understand) or even “enter into” the “kingdom of God” without such event, that latter destination of which He spoke not referring to heaven, but this present relationship we might know with our Creator right now. “Living water” is a promise purchased through Calvary’s redemption and confirmed by a resurrection restoring a life-line within the innermost depths of those who take their thirst unto Him. We do not teach this truth enough, in my opinion, the Church at large still trying to span a gulf reconnected by Jesus over two thousand years ago. Indeed, as we were helping clear the room of chairs and tables afterwards, one young fellow approached me with a question. “How do I do that?” he inquired, patting the hair on his head with one hand and rubbing stomach with another; “How do I get it from here to there?” Now “the shoe was on the other foot”. How do I explain to him in a few minutes the simplicity of “surrender”? Fancy words are not demanded in approaching Divinity. One need only be honest and speak with the heart. We are not in control. He is; and “stepping through the veil” has to be with His permission, not an act of our own arrogance. It is, in fact, much like the old iced-tea commercial where the man, having sipped such refreshment, simply falls backwards into the pool. There is a “fear” the first time, for relinquishing all that we are, trusting Him to catch us, is just part of the journey; but, once encountered, assurance for the next visit is gained, a door opened unto us whenever we humble ourselves to know His presence. Whether we swim in the deep or the shallow end is an individual experience depending on His wisdom and our humanity. Nonetheless, it is the Covenant as extended unto us and far too few, it seems to me, take advantage of its benefits. It is what separates us from all else out there, marking Christianity a reality, not a religion. It establishes faith in Him, saving us from possessing nothing more than faith in faith…….

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


”Science has discovered that, like any work of literature, the human genome is a text in need of commentary, for what Eliot said of poetry is also true of DNA: ‘all meanings depend on the key of interpretation.’ What makes us human, and what makes each of us his or her own human, is not just the genes we have buried into our base pairs, but how our cells, in dialogue with our environment, feed back to our DNA, changing the way we read ourselves. Life is a dialectic.” – Jonah Lehrer, and borrowed from “Whiskey River”

When I first stepped into “Old-time Holiness” and Christ stepped into me, experiencing the sense of God’s presence was expressed in the same manner as observed in others who attended our church meetings. Freedom was permitted for “howsoever the Spirit moved an individual”. Humanity still being humanity, what occurred there within the sanctuary was definitely “encounter”, but not always met with wisdom. Life is a lesson to be learned. Being “born-again”, in many ways, means starting all over; and the “classroom” is bigger than any denominational attachment we make in following Him. Then, again, so is a man’s ego anywhere it is found within the process. Thus, for me at least, while the exterior has changed over these more than four decades since my original entry point, the interior, that connection wherein “two are made one”, remains the same and is vital to my salvation. This is a work yet “under construction”. My participation within the Body no longer involves any title. My attendance is not as enthusiastic as it once was. Four day “revivals” do not get my attention no matter what celebrity speaker fills the pulpit. In the middle of all the mystery, however, all of the evolution that finds me now sitting on the sidelines, observing from afar, what continues to keep me here is the witness of His Holy Ghost moving in its midst. Watching five of my six grandchildren swimming in His anointing feeds my soul. If their individual theology is being shaped by a modern version of the Gospel rejected by this old man, it is that which overflows their vessel which gives me assurance that He has their anchor-line. The definition of “dialectic”, by the way, is: “a process of reasoning based on a clash of one idea with its opposite leading to a resolution of these ideas in the form of a truer or more comprehensive concept”. If God has their heart and they give Him their reins, divine tutoring never ceases and I can surrender to that all my hopes for their future…….

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Visiting “Whiskey River” this morning, I stepped into one of those deep wells of thought so often entertained any more. My days, for the most part, are my own. The clock doesn’t hold me with too many obligations. The subject matter under observation has held me captive in one way or another for over seventy-three years and, under another name, equates to no more than my own existence. Time. There are those who have likened it unto a river, assigning it flow and asserting it impossible for us, therefore, to step into its depths in the same place twice. If that’s true, however, it seems to me only logical to question in which direction is it going? The analogy, as stated, would appear to have us moving upstream, heading somewhere, paddling against the onrush, destination eternity. Then, again, why not the reverse of that scenario, some of us simply drifting with its force, letting each day take us where it will, some of us trying to resist by any means whatsoever, and others in an attempt to at least extract some meaning to the journey. My own conclusion to the whole matter long ago dismissed all external velocity. Infinity, from any perspective, just “is”. It is man, himself, who passes through it within his own allotted segment, his path determined as he so chooses, the tick of the clock his own invention. The real mystery is: Having eyes to see, why do we miss what is right before us? Having ears to hear, why do we ignore so much of what is spoken unto us? We blink. We sort out the noise. We create life on our own terms until reality hits us right in the face. The world around us is factual, but what we possess of it is only this moment, this breath; and any “gears” orchestrating movement, physical, spiritual, or otherwise, are within us. All that changes in the end is dimensional location, mortality swapped for immortality, time no longer dictating an aging process to a body now free from its tenacious grip…….

Monday, May 18, 2015


Point: Take a sharp pencil and reach out anywhere to touch any one of infinitesimal lines invisibly running to and fro, here and there, north and south, east and west, and wherever you “mark the spot”, you have a “point”. Not a dot, or at least not speaking in correct mathematical terms. Not a decimal. That requires numbers on either side to give it such identity. Insignificant? Perhaps; unless you, or I, or anyone else, for that matter, happens to be that particular introduction of existing in this life. Then, suddenly, it depends upon perspective. The further one moves away from it, its reality disappears. The closer one delves into its depths, it’s also easy to drown in the totality of what we failed to know at first glance. Continue to place other points around it, elbow-to-elbow, armpit-to-armpit, and before too long its meaning has been absorbed by all else that’s out there. Does it have meaning? Purpose? Whatever attachment it holds with others, whatever self-satisfaction is found within its own existence, if there is no “point within the point” where definition is established by a higher Source, a person is left with nothing more than their own reasoning, their own defense, their own humanity as it has come to them down through the years. We need “connection”; we need “anchorage”; and, in achieving it, we are told in Scripture that we must to surrender unto it all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, putting all our strength into such effort, for even in knowing Him, we remain wobbly in our walk. A point. Not in our head, but in our “belly”. Out of it flows living water, life for those who thirst, manna for those who are hungry, assurance for those who seek an answer to the enigma…….

Saturday, May 16, 2015


I drove about seventy-five miles yesterday afternoon to meet my grandson, the one whose whole life has held such distance between us that, while my heart is no less connected with him, knowing him in who and what he is has been a whole different relationship than what’s been possible with the five who all have grown up “in my back yard”. With two years of college now behind him, questions about his faith are surfacing and his mother suggested a talk with me. We met at Walmart, grabbed a couple of sandwiches from Subway, and motored together to a nearby church where an outdoor pavilion gave us quiet space. I expected “Why not Buddha?” He gave me merely interrogatives (and some good thinking of his own) about fundamentals, inquiries about the Cross, what made us “sinners”, and a concern about his own stumble down the path, healthy investigation every believer ought to make somewhere along the way. Truthfully, in my own opinion, that latter is an exercise that needs to remain “open discussion” in a prayer closet on a regular basis. Just north of us, Cincinnati not only boasts of its own amusement park, but positioned there, in the same neighborhood, is an “auto-mall”, a huge section of ground home to multiple new car businesses, any and every brand all in one place competing for your dollar. It came to me the other day, one of those mental images that frequently pass through this old man’s mind, that today’s Church is much the same. In our area, at least, within a ten-mile radius Christianity gives choice in so far as style of worship, dogmatic beliefs, congregational fellowship and outreach, the only thing commonly claimed being “the product they are trying to sell”. How many people, though, “thump the tires”, read the manual, and check out the consumer reports before signing on the dotted line? Most are content with a salvation validated by the membership contract and are willing to let eternity determine truth at a later date. I want confirmation now, in my “belly”, not my head. I want that for my family. I want that for whosoever has ears to hear. Not forced. Not demanded by thumping my Bible. Either this is real or it is no more than religious ritual. Either His “flow”, or “no go”. He “sells” Himself if this old flawed vessel will but remember that fact…….

Friday, May 15, 2015


In the course of our Wednesday evening Bible study, for whatever reason, our teacher asked ME to define “absolute truth” for him. My immediate response was to suggest someone else might be a better choice for such task. No; the die had been cast. “Black and white!” I blurted, trying to comply without taking the class into my own theology and, at the same time, knowing such answer would be utilized to emphasize that which I don’t believe. It was; and yet, void of any Spiritual anointing to debate such issue, this old man saw no point in forcing my opinion upon the others. People have to take their own journey in this, learn their own lesson in a stumble down the path. For me, though, there is only one correct definition for “absolute truth”. Christ claimed that label long ago and, for much too long, the Church has tried to replace Him with the Book! That’s not to say one can’t find Him within chapter and verse; but it does demand that, in confessing their faith in the word, Christian must also admit to the possibility of error since, if for no other reason, our humanity is involved in processing that which is written therein; and that, alone, ought to make it always a work “under construction”. Our understanding ought to be continually re-examined in both a prayer closet and the next step. It is He whom I follow, a resurrected reality who always allows me freedom in this, final accountability more a matter of how I lived my faith, not so much how well I managed to reduce it to an Algebraic formula: baptism by immersion plus attending and tithing equals entrance through the Pearly Gates. Scripture reminds me of my own individual sins, points me to Christ, and tells me to make myself a vessel through which He might reach others. It’s that simple…….

Thursday, May 14, 2015


In the original “Alice in Wonderland”, the main character encounters Humpty Dumpty who, in conversation with her, uses the word “glory”. When she informs him that she doesn’t understand its meaning, he scornfully replies “Of course you don’t, not until I tell you, for every word I speak means exactly what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less!” She observes that “The question is whether you can make words mean different things”; and he, unhindered in his vanity, simply states that “The question is only who is to be master. That’s all.”… I’m about halfway through my perusal of Alan E. Lewis’s “Between Cross and Resurrection”. Thus far it has mostly been like a “schematic” of historical Christianity’s putting divinity under a microscope and dissecting Trinity in an attempt to dissolve all the mystery. Not yet expressing his own personal theology, the author quotes Barth, Moltmann, Hegel, Jensen, Rahner, and Martin Luther, just to name a few prestigious names of those who, from the very beginning of this, have forged various images out of chapter and verse. They frame God in terms that suggest Him possessing an “eternal longing to become a man and to make of every man a god out of grace.” They describe Him as “being in becoming”, a deity experiencing metamorphosis, passing through eternity with us and evolving as He goes. Like the Jews, who took the Law and turned it into religion, so too has the Church complicated “Christ in me”, debating its simplicity until Christianity now comes in seventeen flavors, including several counterfeit imitations. While I applaud a need for believers to study their Bible, to investigate their salvation as they go, yet wisdom dictates our goal be forged out of a recognition of our humanity being part of the process. There is no doctrinal box of dogma big enough, strong enough correct enough, to completely hold Him captive; and pursuit ought to be more about a thirst to know His reality in our life than about some desire to label His parts…….

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Life: the honking of two wild geese flying overhead; the red-leafed branches of a small tree dancing in the cool breeze before me; the warm sun feeding substance into everything, including me as I wait outside the doctor’s office for Beth to return. People come and go, humanity defensive in its denial, comical in its character, all of us, for the most part, incognito, our real identity hidden, at least to some extent, and just going through the motions. We are a strange creation in the midst of all else that’s out there, yet singular in possessing ability to contemplate the mystery around us. “Being”, however, gets lost in the shuffle, swallowed up in the everyday events that define our existence. One breath turns into another. The calendar clicks. One day, two months, ten years. Where did it go? For that matter, what was it all about? I’m not so sure it would be any different looking back, though, should we have laid out some structured schedule to achieve and then achieved it. Things happen. The “in-between” is an Algebraic unknown depending on right time, right place, circumstance, and the individual who happens to catch the event. For me, therefore, the essential is in knowing “anchorage”, not so much in the temporal, but in He who transcends beginning and the end. When Eternity is a well within you, each pause that comes your way finds your mind “returning to the ark”, each person that you meet is one of His “works in progress”, and all things have “purpose”. The past is a memory, the future is in His hands, and this moment is a gift given. Here comes my wife. She’ll be ready for breakfast…….

Monday, May 11, 2015


Mother’s Day was a “divided affair” for me and Beth. With my group scheduled for services with the kids at the Youth Detention Center, she attended early morning church by herself. We came together, afterwards, for dinner with family and friends. Entertainment was watching the “grandchildren”, two of them now of legal age to go with me in ministering at the above facility, laughing and giggling at old photographs my daughter has stored in two huge containers. Sunday evening worship was a solo. Four fractures in her back makes it hard for her to endure the seating for any long period of time. For me, therefore, it’s not unusual, any more, to soak up as much of His presence as possible before just coming home to catch the sermon later on my computer. On this occasion, however, the young man appointed to the pulpit in our pastor’s absence caught my curiosity. Raised in our ranks, his early call to such ministry was strongly rooted in “old-time holiness”, not so much all the legalism that we once endorsed, but definitely a lot of “holier than thou” staining his witness, at least in this old man’s eyes. Marriage and three or four years away elsewhere, though, seems to have softened it somewhat, his last message unto us clearly with God’s anointing, judgment balanced with grace. Now he took us to Jeremiah, the pagan idol, Moloch, and the practice of sacrificing babies in exchange for chasing one’s own desires. My reasoning that he was about to address this nation’s liberty with abortion was slowly enlightened otherwise as he pointed to a Church, deafened by the world’s drumbeat so that it doesn’t hear death’s agony, giving up that which has been divinely implanted within her, while entertaining her own heart rather than hungering for His. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;” Paul wrote unto the Corinthians. “Prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Each man, each woman, it seems to me, must frequently take that statement into a prayer closet…….

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Soul Music....."

After awakening about six-thirty this morning, it took about an hour to just find sanity. Whether just the usual allergies that plague one in this section of the country as spring breaks into bloom or maybe part of what comes with the package at reaching seventy-three years of age, my brain felt trapped in a balloon and thinking took effort. A couple of aspirins. A hot cup of coffee. Pressure eased and it occurred to me that the book I’ve been reading was left in the car yesterday afternoon. I donned an old hoodie, stepped out into the coolness of a world still in the process of escaping darkness and, having retrieved my study of “Between Cross and Resurrection”, I sat down on a backyard bench hoping to catch the sun as it rose above the hills to the east. The ground was wet with dew. Squirrels and birds were already about their business. The sound of traffic on the main highway, muffled by the distance between us, was suddenly lost in several drawn-out, almost connected warning blares of a train approaching on the steep, wooded slope a few hundred yards behind me. Such intrusion might well have startled others. For me, it was merely part of life as it has come to me for more than two decades now. My son-in-law has known this area as “home” for all his life. Beth and I stepped into it when the oldest grandson was born and the soft clickety-clack of the rail cars passing through long ago became a familiar melody. Indeed, for this old man, it takes me back to growing up in the inner city, my parent’s house but a half block down from an underpass; and, with air-conditioning not yet invented, our windows were open most summer evenings. The L&N and the C&O lullabied me to sleep quite often. How easy, it seems to me, for us to adapt. Physically. Spiritually. If we’re not careful, we simply accept our circumstances, follow what is fed us, and think ourselves holding the fullness of all that there is. That said, it might be well to admit it possible to be so impassioned about what we don’t possess that we lose sight of the treasure we already own. Balance, in all things, came to me March 27th, 1972, at one-thirty in the afternoon, when Christ restored anchorage within this old man’s soul. Dawn broke forth in the middle of my nightmare. Peace became a promise confirmed again and again no matter what the day, itself, would bring…….

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


This morning, while waiting to drive McKenna to school, I watched as Fox News broadcast the story of a female Army officer who managed to complete some sort of twelve mile endurance trek carrying her rifle and a thirty-five pound backpack. Small in stature, she stumbled twice and fell as she neared the finish line; but, encouraged by comrades, she utilized that weapon as support to arise and complete the assigned course. It was an accomplishment worthy of recognition. Yet, if, in hearing that eighty percent of those who start that hike fall by the wayside somewhere along the way, my respect for her success increased, my heart also knew compassion for those unable to conquer the mission for whatever reason. In all my seventy-three years, there’s never been a single incident that marked me a “winner”. No athletic skills. No academic awards. The only certificate on my wall is one Beth discovered at my mother’s declaring me a graduate of a kindergarten class at Grace Evangelical Reformed Lutheran assembly. Still, I don’t think I’m alone. Most of humanity is like me. Few of us are anybody “special”. All of us, even those who do “ring the bell” and win a prize, are flawed. None are without error in this journey and life is a stagger down the path where what counts is just giving it the best you can. You run out of wind on the fourth lap? Sit down, get your breath, and try it again tomorrow. You flunk Algebra? Sign up for shop. Maybe carpentry is your niche. And if the world fails to give credit for stamina, there is One who is willing to go with you regardless of your track record, eager to coach you in the next step, and always a friend even if you’re continually the last horse in the race. Blue ribbons and awards may be nice; but I’d rather know His grace in a prayer closet at the end of each day. He makes me…. and you.... a winner.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Beth and I both attended the evening service Sunday. The music can get a little too loud for old ears at times, especially when you’re seated but a few rows from the front; but McKenna and Noah, our two youngest grandchildren, were participating in a drama skit and we wanted to be close enough to be “one with them” in its unfolding. There must have been twenty, at least, on that stage, ranging in age from eleven to maybe eighteen. They were all dressed in black, more so to establish one’s focus on the lyrics of the song they brought forth than anything else, the words lip-synced by an older girl in front and slowly embracing the whole group in the message it proclaimed. Along the way it all fell into God’s anointing, the Holy Spirit overflowing, spilling out to connect with the congregation as a whole; and, in the final moments, skit turned into Pentecost, people coming forth to join with them in tears and tongues for about fifteen or twenty minutes that “weren’t in the program”. Eventually, with our pastor out of town, his son would speak to us on “prayer”, on his belief that we’ve failed to teach each other, not just the importance of such union with Christ, but the essential elements that create it in so far as it being more than a few words thrown toward heaven in petition. In truth, his theme was merely an explanation of what had just happened in our midst. If faith is only held in our heads, what do we really possess? It must come up “out of our belly”, a gift of God that, while securing us in the next step, yet knows anchorage down deep in the depths of all that we are; and such relationship must be maintained in a sense of never being “conquered”, but always a lesson being learned…….

Monday, May 4, 2015


“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing – they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them, I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter, and all the mad intensities that made me and unmade me.” – Stephen Fry, borrowed from “Whiskey River”

The author of the above quote is an English writer/comedian, described as being “ninety percent gay, ten percent other”. If such analysis plays any role in my discourse here, it is only meant to suggest that we, as a society, hold some guilt in its creation. We who, ourselves, are so involved with our own insecurities, all of us trying to make some sense out of our own existence, all too often fail to minister to those around us. In managing to “straddle the stream”, ourselves, we abandon, reject, and ridicule the weakest among us for their inability to blend in with the crowd. People hurt people. Christ “in” me ought to change that, at least somewhat. Conversion doesn’t turn us into “Super Saint”. We still have to deal with our own warts, wrinkles, and wobble down the road; but if Calvary’s reconnection is more than just head knowledge, if indeed we now possess an inner well out of which his resurrection is made manifest in our walk, our stagger should bear evidence of Him in more ways than one. That grace given us, if not allowed to stagnate through infrequent visits to the pool, should not influence more than change in our own identity, but overflow into the lives of those around us. His compassion, His wisdom, His healing, operating through us, ought to be witness of our claim to know Him. The Holy Ghost, as someone preached to me long ago, convicts, but doesn’t condemn. The world doesn’t need our theology. It needs Christ; and perhaps the best place to start is in our own back yard. What’s in your wallet? I’ve always hated that commercial…….

Friday, May 1, 2015


Walking out of church last Sunday, my niece, for whatever reason, asked my opinion about Bruce Jenner’s recent decision. When I replied that it was his choice, his life, not mine, my reasoning was held out of a strong belief that none of us ever really know the depths of the other person’s identity. She reminded me that his actions involved hurting his family. True; but the reality of this journey is in loving each other enough to weather our differences, to surrender our soul even when our spirit fails to understand. Whether the above is accountable for what has occupied my mind lately or not, it does seem to me depths that are beyond our ability to conquer, interesting enough perhaps for a dive into such waters, but greater than our condemning it with chapter and verse. Is there any of us who can give concrete definition to those two elements of humanity? Where do they originate? It is written that the one is “the candle of the Lord” and that God “lights every man that cometh into the world”; but does that conclude the matter? Is the spirit divinely inserted at birth, an angel appointed to install this critical part of our schematics, or is its creation simply programmed into the original blueprint along with the soul, its Siamese twin? Whichever way it works, I’m inclined to believe it (or should I say they) possess no individuality there in the beginning. Who and what they are will be determined by the package assigned, the environment through which it passes, and the history of its own choices, its own stagger down the path. Male? Female? Mathematically inclined? Animal lover? Psychologically challenged? For me it all comes down to our discovering the most vital piece of our existence was lost in the Garden, learning reconnection was made available unto us through what was accomplished at Calvary, and then accepting the gift as given. Do questions remain? Oh, yes; but I’d rather take my interrogatives unto Him than think, because I’ve read the Book, I have all the answers…….