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Looking In The Mirror

When we are young, we are beautiful people. We are lithe and fast and strong. We climb, we jump we run and our bodies are seemingly elastic. I recall doing things, like jumping from a tree limb, scaling a wall, and other things that; if I did them today, would land me in the emergency room. It’s just incredible what a young body can do.

And…they look good too! It’s why as we grow into adolescents, we look in the mirror so much. The human body in its youthful form is incredibly beautiful. God knew what he was doing when he made us to grow into our youth. In form, our bodies are strong and long and lean. Young men admire a young woman and young women stare wantonly at muscular young men. AND IT’S FUN TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR! I told my son Isaac once,

“Dude, really enjoy your strong body, because the older you get, the more your body will limit you; regardless of how much you stay in shape.”

He kind of stared at me for a few moments while a smirk formed on his face and laughed and said, “Well, thanks for helping me to look forward to that!” I laughed too…what a wet blanket I was!

A publication I read once did a study about selfies that stated while all age groups take self-pictures known as “selfies”, the younger the person, the more the selfies by a significant margin. Although I see plenty of older people placing “selfies” online too.

You’ve seen it… Youth looks good and they like taking pictures of themselves. If I would have had a cell phone with a great camera on it, I would have taken a bunch of selfies in my youth. I’ll be you would have too.

I’m not convinced it is all vanity. You know, I can be as judgmental as the next person, but I want to say that part of the appeal of being young is the ability to attract others and thus propagate the species. Beauty is the attraction of youth. It’s the strong suit…the dominant characteristic that unfortunately we define ourselves by in our younger years. Tragically; however, when we are not so lovely according to the fickle crowd in a society that highly prizes beauty, it is too easy to withdraw and judge ourselves as worthless.

Part of the reason the Holy Spirit wants to interrupt our lives is because as we age, we are able to relate to them and share how God has become so central to us as we have aged past those years of youth.

You remember those days…don’t you? Maybe you were young pretty and popular or maybe you were not the “homecoming queen” and less attractive. God wants to use whatever experience you had in your youth to reach the people He brings your way. The question is, “Will you be ready for Him to use you?”

Janis Ian in the 1970’s wrote THE song that hauntingly tells the story of a girl who understood the value of being young and beautiful called, “At Seventeen”.

“I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired

The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone

Who called to say “Come dance with me”
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn’t all it seems
At seventeen…”[i]

In this song, Ian describes the pain of a self-described “ugly duckling girl” who was deeply affected by not being able to define herself as beautiful. Her words cut us to the core, when she says,

“To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball.”

As I have grown older, suffice it to say, I look in the mirror less and less. It’s because the outward features we fawned over in youth fade in our age. In fact, I believe as we age, we begin to see the REAL person we are… revealed. If we relied on our looks in our youth, but failed to develop the inner person, we discover a void, and an emptiness of character emerges. This is broad brush analysis, and I don’t mean to generalize, but what I wish to point out is that, as we age, we begin to discover other, more enduring qualities that perhaps have been hidden beneath the good looks and popularity that are far more interesting and infinitely more attractive than our fading exterior. I passed by the mirror the other day and said, “Hey, what are YOU doing in my house!” It was as if some stranger was staring back at me in the mirror.

We have all heard about “grumpy old people,” but, I refuse to generalize them just as I refuse to generalize about youth. Not all older people are grumpy. But I DO believe that the reactions of our personalities as we age are either the result of learning wisdom from our experiences in life, or harboring resentment because of them.

From youth and naivete, we grow to understand about being used by others. We learn during the season of raising children, our own selfishness and; if we are submitted to God, we allow Him to change our inner person to one that seeks the best in others. As grow older, we begin to value the contributions of our parents into our lives, and those of others who helped us to mature.

As our children leave the nest, we begin to value our grandchildren and hope to grow into a mentoring role for others. The visits to the mirror become less frequent, and even when we do visit, we no longer admire the reflection for it’s attractive qualities. Rather, if; when we look into the mirror there is kindness in the eyes, joy on the face and peace in our brow, it compensates for ANY wrinkle or weight gain. That’s because whereas in youth we wear our beauty on the outside, in our older years, the beauty of what is inside comes shining through, just as God has designed it.

Also I have thankfully noticed that the Lord uses me in the lives of young people to encourage and love them. He uses the frailties and mistakes I have made in life to encourage them to do better than I did.

It is how redemption works. God takes our biggest messes and uses them like a flashing light to help others avoid the same blunders. The more we expose our frailties; believe it or not, the more useful we become to others. We show the “cracks” in our aging vessels and tell the story of how we got each and every one of them

Let me encourage you to embrace where you are in life. Let others benefit from your life experiences.

This is the season of mentoring, the season of elding. We are elders, and we can demonstrate to those younger than us, how God uses “Cracked Pots,” like the author of the book of the same name says. I may not look into the mirror much anymore, but I pray that the fractures in my pottery can be useful and show more of Jesus and less of me. Don’t hide your imperfections, use them to show that character developed in youth is what will truly be beautiful later in life.

[i] At Seventeen lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC- Janis Ian © 1976 All Rights Reserved

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Broken Messengers

I am a broken messenger. 

I was once a saved, washed and squeaky-clean Christian.

I obeyed every rule that I THOUGHT God had laid down for me to follow. I was a zealot…falling into the category of being strict with people that wanted to follow Jesus and made sure they measured up to my expectations. This former little Catholic boy…a zealot!

I raised my hands and spoke in tongues. I laid hands on people to be delivered, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. I judged people who didn’t follow the same strict rules that I followed.

In other words…I was a real prick.

I KNEW that I was right with God. I pushed through rejection by others and made my way into so called “Christian leadership”. I moved up into the upper echelons (so I thought) of Christian leadership by becoming a missionary.

If you had looked at me from the outside, I was a picture-perfect example of a Christian…at least my church’s brand of Christian.

This is not how I started out.

I fell in love with Jesus when I was 15. I had a hunger for the Bible and loved that I was forgiven. I would sing to the Lord in my little apartment deep into the night, pretending that the pillar in my living room was Jesus and I hugged it. I wanted to be like Him and follow Him forever.

But, believing the message in the early eighties, that I had to “press in” to become more in Christ, I began to conform to behaviors that would tell  others I was a “mature” Christian. I began to “fake it until I could Make it!”

And, while I know it sounds very unforgiving and harsh…just like a small-time thief sent to jail who says, “I had to go to jail to learn how to be a criminal”, I had to go into “fulltime Christian service” to learn how to be an imposter. This is no judgement on other men and women of integrity in full time Christian service…but it was true for me.

But, beneath the surface, there were issues bubbling up that I had not given to God.

I was married but… due to my lack of surrendering all to Jesus, my heritage of family members from generations past, and my uncontrolled libido… I fell into adultery. Not once…but I held the world record.

Of course, it didn’t start out that way…just curiosities that grew into fantasies and then into realities. I had a pornography problem…things were really ugly.

Of course, I had to lie in order to hide my sin.  I had to continue to put on a good front, while living a lie.

No One found out about it. I became so broken and unhappy and convicted… that I simply outed myself.

And, because I had done this while acting as a pastor, it was doubly worse. I had violated and betrayed followers of Jesus who had trusted my integrity. And, because of this…I am never to seek leadership or pastor another church. Some take issue with this, but I know what I know.

There are many who look at the destruction in the wake of my sin, my ultimate divorce, and condemn me to hell. VERY close relatives have separated themselves from me and vow to never speak to me again. I am a curse to them. It affected my children… I don’t blame them. What I did back on those days was horrible.

But, even in my deepest and darkest place…Jesus came to me and forgave me…again.

There are consequences for our disobedience. That Gospel isn’t preached much but be sure that your sin will find you out. It always does.

The more we are entrusted with, the greater the requirement for holiness, accountability, the greater the need for integrity. And I would rather be benched than to miss out on an eternity with Jesus.

And so, I write.

We are all broken messengers. Like Kris Kristofferson says in a song, “Some of us get loster than others.”  But the truth is, we are all broken messengers. However…I know who I am, and WHOSE I am.

I am a forgiven child of the King. I am not and will never be a perfect human being…only Jesus is that. I am a fully restored member of the family of God. You can see my flaws in my writing…I don’t talk like a lot of Christians…I cuss a little and I more than occasionally let my mouth run reckless.

I am not the kind of Christian that asks you to follow my example.

Regardless of how black your sin…even in the midst of the Christian assembly…and others are picking up rocks to stone you…Jesus never throws  a single rock.

I have been forgiven much, and I love much. Jesus is SO good to me…and He picked me up like He did Mary Magdalene and said, “Go and sin no more.”

Today, I am a faithful husband, a loving father and a proud grandfather. My grandchildren actually love me! Can you believe that?!

But I walk with a limp, a very pronounced limp and I always will.

What I want is more of Jesus. What I need is more of Jesus, and who I seek is simply JESUS.

I have tasted dirt from the ground where I fell. And, while I am unlovely and not anyone of note in the Kingdom…I am His… and he is not ashamed of me…OR of YOU.

Regardless of what you have done…Come to the fountain…my friends…run to the fountain. He will forgive abundantly…even a wretch like me. God uses broken messengers the best.

I love you faithful reader…and I do not take you for granted.

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and ALL that is within me…BLESS His Holy name.

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Don’t Believe Your Thoughts…

Your mind is constantly thinking. Most of the time, it is not thinking about what to eat for dinner, or where you will go on vacation. the thoughts in our mind almost always are focused on evaluations. We evaluate what we said, what THEY said, what we are wearing when we look in the mirror, what THEY are wearing and wondering if they even LOOKED in the mirror. Our minds want to control our situations and our environment.

And…by and large, our thoughts are inaccurate and judgmental of ourselves and others.

Sometimes we remember (think of past things) and think on the things someone said about us. I had a teacher once tell me I was stupid. I believed her, and for the next 20 years of my life, I had to fight against those words. The old saying goes, “You have to think about what you are thinking about!” because thoughts can set you on a course throughout your day that are not at all in line with reality.

Here is the truth. You are not your thoughts. You are not the things you are thinking. The mind is one of the most fertile fields for growing our lives. If thoughts of negativity are dwelt upon, it is like watering a weed. It grows and spawns other weeds and before you know it, your mind is filled with weeds! But, when we stop living according to the dictates of our negative minds, and begin confessing what God says we are, remarkable things begin to happen.

Today, go out believing what God says about you. You are wonderfully and awesomely made. You are the head and not the tail. If God be for you, who can be against you? God makes all things work together for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

When we believe right things, we find the course of our days going in a right direction. Speak what God says about you out loud. Truth dispels darkness, and puts corrective lenses on a mind that wants to think negatively.

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The Secret Lives of Swans…

If you haven’t read the book “the Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen, you should. The story about a little “duckling” that was laughed at because it was so gawky and “ugly has great analogies in the life of a person.

None of us are born beautiful. We may coo and fuss over little babies, but they make messes, smell funny and can do nothing for themselves. As humans grow, especially during adolescence, a child can be awkward and clumsy. The social graces have not yet been perfected, and many times an adolescent will speak out something that is inappropriate and sometimes even rude. This is how we grow up. It takes time to become graceful and flow effortlessly in society.

A swan, is white and sometimes grey at birth, and take a lot of preening from it’s parents. Swans mate for life and like an elephant, they never forget a kindness or a wrong done against them.


When God is perfecting you in this life, the beginning is never pretty. We have deeply ingrained habits that need to be overcome, relationships we need to change or even get out of if they are detrimental to following Christ. It is not always a gracious and flowing process. god wants to clean us “preen” us and to prepare us for life outside of the nest. Sometimes we resist, thinking we are just fine the way we are. a baby swan leaving the nest too soon, will be attacked and killed easily by other fowl or even snapping turtles. A mature swan is a formidable force. It can attack and defend itself.

When you look at your life, you may find areas that are ugly to you. There may be mental thought patterns you still have that say, “You are not enough!” or “You’re such an idiot!” We may not have all our corners rounded and finished off so that we are a delight to be around. If you have felt that way, you are not alone. Don’t reject yourself, Change is coming!

There was a girl I knew in Jr. High school that looked gawky, wore “cat eye” rimmed glasses and always walked with her head down. The boys would call her not nice names, and she kept to herself…that was in seventh grade. By the time we entered High School, she became a swan. Her gawkiness vanished, her cat eye glasses were replaced by contact lenses. Her hair flowed like a golden mane, and the same boys who poked fun at her all wanted to ask her out on a date. But, remember; Swan’s don’t forget! Not one of those boys, including me, ever got a date! She began “not so lovely” but the swan she was meant to become was inside, and it was biding it’s time until, one day, she floated effortlessly across the lake.

Scripture says, “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4 As you go through life, and grow in you experience and relationship with Jesus, He is refining you, heating the furnace seven times in order for you to be like pure gold.

Be patient while He works on you. Don’t reject your gawkiness or your lack of beauty in areas. It doesn’t matter if it takes a lifetime…the finished work of God will be completed and your time to float across the lake, is coming.

“…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

God beautifies with salvation…be patient, submit to the work, don’t resist the lessons God is teaching.

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Crappy Pants Moments…

God meant for life to be hard! Yes, it’s true. It is supposed to be stressful. Babies are supposed to poop their pants while sitting in your lap while flying at 30,000 feet as my baby son did back in 1982. I could have prayed and prayed that God would prepare me for the explosion that was about to take place in that kid’s pants, but He chose not to.

That was what we would call a true bummer.

Trying to get that baby cleaned up in the tiny bathroom in a plane. The people who went into that bathroom after we came out are still cussing us! Life is going to present us with non-favorable things all of our lives. There is nothing you can do about it either. You’re welcome!

The reason I bring this up today is that if you have ever read the book of Ecclesiastes, it does not paint a pretty picture of life. It tells you that almost everything is futile in this world, including fame and wealth and great sex and…yes, even Amway and Plexus…everything is futility! It tells us to enjoy it while we have it cause it’s coming to an abrupt end.

Ecclesiastes is like a cattle corral, that herds us into this reality that the purpose of life is to reveal our need for God…because we are not all that and a bag of chips.Life is meant to be a place where we come to the conclusion that our real purpose is to discover our need for Him, and enter into a relationship while we can… because death is coming for everyone.

It comes for Presidents, and it comes for chicken farmers. Life also shows us that it is better to be above the ground than below it. Because, while we are sucking in air, He can reveal to us the Way to Him…which is Jesus.”For whoever is joined with all the living there is hope! Surely a live dog is better than a dead lion.” Ecclesiastes 9:4

It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or the strongest. It doesn’t matter if you are the wisest person on the planet or the wealthiest. These things are simply a matter of time and chance. ( Ecclesiastes 9:11) There are many people who would argue with me about that one. My point is this. Life is supposed to be a steam roller. It doesn’t mean God isn’t paying attention …in a fallen world …crap happens.

It’s going to roll over you, your spouse, your kids, and your grand kids. It’s just another little gift left for us by Adam and Eve.You and I are going to a grave sometime in the future and guess what? We don’t know when that is going to happen! SURPRISE!

So, using deductive reasoning, it is our hearts that God is watching. He is not more impressed if you discover a new cure for toe fungus or design the world’s longest bridge. It isn’t what you DO that matters. It is ALWAYS your heart because a right heart relates to God and others in the right way.God watches the heart, and like it says in Jeremiah it is impossible to know our own heart motives.

The heart is evil and wickedly deceptive. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

That is why we have the BIBLE. we must read it and allow IT to read US. It cuts deep into our pride, our selfishness, and our greed. It destroys the false images we have of ourselves. It is a mirror that shows us just how bad of a hair day we are going to have unless we change a few things. What a gift!

It is not for sissies…and if you think it is, I dare you to pick it up.Scripture shows a good man what a dog he is and shows a broken and humble man, how much he needs to reach up for His hand. But is also shows us Who Jesus really is…and what He really did and how He wants you to admit your fallenness, and accept His help.

The Bible cleans out our minds, refocuses us on real priorities, and makes us bow our proud and self-sufficient knees and cry “UNCLE” when life is a bully. The Bible is like a whetstone…sharpening our minds, our discernment, and slicing through our self-pity. It tells us to buck up… that there is another world awaiting us where no children poop on our laps.

It urges us to deal with our motives for serving people, for continuing to put up with our spouses, and our children…and ourselves!

The power of the Bible is that it can turn a complete fool into a wise and discerning person, and change his heart.If today, you are going about life and wondering why you have not won the lottery or thinking, “I thought becoming a Christian would make life easier and I would be the most blessed person in the crowd.” then somebody has given you the wrong information.

Life is filled with crappy pants moments! Christianity is not a button you push in order to get to Easy street…it is a cross you pick up and drag along with you. When we pick it up…we learn that even though we live in a harsh child pooping environment, the burden of it is much lighter than we ever expected, and; for our efforts, Jesus shows us how He overcame the world and how WE can too.

Jesus didn’t come because you and I are priceless, precious, and valuable…He came because we are bankrupt, broken, and in desperate need of rescue…and He and His Word is our lifeboat!

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The Higher Call…

Something great is calling me,

it’s calling out for me to stop;

to cease the base and worthless things

and join its climb up to the top.

Inside I hear a noble voice

that bids me “Come and scale the wall!”

to leave aside the simple things,

the charge to heed a higher call.

And all those base and foolish things,

that act as a deterring weight,

denied they’re made of worthless stuff

and plead with me to hesitate.

They say “We offer rest and peace!”

“Delay, delay and take your ease!”

But the Higher call spoke louder still,

“Here lies your destiny to seize!”

And caught between the higher call

And that with no intrinsic worth,

I sought the higher foothold there

To rise up higher from the earth.

And as I climbed with every inch,

I wished to go up higher still,

And took the next step and the next,

And day by day, went up the hill.

And down below the clouds I saw,

The baser things sought to detain,

The other travelers resting there

and distract them from the high terrain.

Then I called out, “Come up! Come up!”

“Do not give in to rest and ease!”

“For there are wondrous sights to see

And you’ll possess dominion’s keys!”

And climbing still up to the top

To this day one great fact, I find;

that God reveals the hidden truths

When we leave base things far behind.

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Speaking Prophetically…

I’ve been around the block a few times in my life… not as many times as some, but a lot of experience in diverse areas of life. I’ve mostly learned through making mistakes or to put it another way, by failing. I’m not sure I have even batted 275 or 300.

There is a reason I was sent down to the minors in 2005 and told to sell cars for a living.But it is while we are sitting on the bench that God is able to do surgery and repair areas that rendered us ineffective on the playing field. And it has been while sitting on the bench that I have been able to learn what is important to the Lord and what isn’t.When God does surgery on us, He always does heart surgery. There is no use repairing the torn ligament in our pitching arm if He doesn’t correct the true source of our poor play…which is almost always, a heart problem.

I won’t get into all of the numerous heart issues I’ve had or continue to deal with in my own life but if there is one thing I can tell you after having gone under the Lord’s scalpel it’s this…there is always rehab and then redemption!

None of us are ever sent down to the minors forever. The Father’s ultimate purpose is to make you better than brand new and place you back into the game! You may not be a pitcher again…you may go back into the game as a shortstop or outfielder, but that is God’s business…not yours.

After I came off the bench in 2015 it had been 10 long years of surgery. I had been pretty stubborn and for that, the Lord had to ride me hard in order to break this wild stallion and show me I could do nothing without Him. Every son the Father loves He disciplines. We forget that truth. Being corralled is not punishment…it is discipline and there is a REAL difference between the two…but I digress.

Speaking prophetically to you…I want you to know that everything you have been through, everything that you have failed in, every job lost, every relationship broken…God has used to get to your heart. Often, He was not the reason you lost the job or went through the divorce or went through the desert experience. The truth is most of those times it was your decisions that brought about the problems…not the Lord’s.

Scripture says, “The gifts and calling of the Lord are without repentance”. Romans 11:29. While the author was speaking to first-century Jews in that Scripture, it has greater significance than that. Repentance means “a change of mind”. In a very broad sense, God has not and will not change His mind about your calling and the gifts on your life. You and I might change our minds but God never does! “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

The movie “The Natural” comes to mind. Roy Hobbs had so many natural talents, but he messed up and due to that mistake…he spent most of his life playing ball in hidden semi pro ball clubs…until he was discovered and given a second chance. When Roy decides not to repeat the same mistakes and fights through some pretty difficult resistance, he prevails.If you give up now, you may never see all that the Lord has for you. If you turn back after coming so far, you will not discover that the Lord had you slated for the championship game.

In my children’s book “The Silk Road” the caterpillar named Fearful loses everything after he has to go through the shallow pool; a type and shadow of baptism.

“Now with all the provisions he had made for himself stripped away, Fearful felt vulnerable, and said to Hopeful with a shaky voice, “I want to go back to our yard, Hopeful.” Hopeful cautioned his young friend immediately, “What has been left in the water are just remnants of your old life, my friend…If you return, you will still remain empty-handed…even what you still possess after going through the shallow pool is useless to you now!” he said, trying his best to explain the uselessness of going back. “Besides, if you go back now, the great journey we’ve set out upon will remain a mystery to you as well. If you continue with me, not only will you regain what you’ve lost in the shallow pool, but you will have the opportunity to see how all your needs will be provided for!” The Silk Road ©2020 Penit Publications All Rights Reserved.

Out there in the not too distant future, God has a plan in which you are to play a part. You may feel stripped of everything you used to trust in, but if you quit and go back now, it will remain a mystery. Going forward means regaining not only what you feel you’ve lost, but you will see all that God will do…His plan will make sense after the rain and clouds have passed.

Greater days are ahead…bluer skies, greener pastures. Do not make a decision in the valley of depression or during discipline! Allow yourself to mend. Allow time for the heart surgery to have it’s completed work.There is a bright future, a great day, and a celebration that will take place soon. It will not be complete if you are not there. The team is counting on you…and the Owner of the team will soon ask the Holy Spirit to put you back in the game. Be ready!

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The Way Things Used to Be…

There is an old Amish grocery store here in Nolensville that is all decked out in Chrysanthemums and pumpkins at this time of year. Every time I pass by it, I get such a strong desire to stop in and buy 30 pumpkins and just as many mums. Fall is my favorite time of the year. The air; like James Whitcomb Riley says is, “so appetizen’!” I love wearing sweaters or hoodies, sitting around bonfires and sippin’ a little corn squeezin’… or not.

When I see the old Amish store, it reminds me of my roots back in rural South Central Indiana and causes me to remember how different the world is today than it was when I grew up 62 years ago.  If you read me often, you will know that I am a person who likes to reminisce, and; in my case, the desire for “the good old days” borders on escape at times. But it does make me wonder how we could have devolved from a country of caring for your neighbor to one where people don’t even know their neighbors.

When I was five, my mother would send me down to old Mrs. Zaharako’s to buy some eggs. It was about a eighth of a mile from our house, and I would walk down the country road to buy them. Mrs. Zaharako, would tell me to sit, while she went to gather them. She would do a ‘DOUBLE CHECK” to make sure she hadn’t given me one with a “chick” in it, by holding it up to the light. Her dog; a boxer, would sit staring at me the whole time.

The world was slower, and south-central Indiana had no higher ambition than to shed her leaves in bright orange, yellows and faded greens all over the ground.  Walt Baxter and his son Terry would ride their horses  down the road and even stop to talk to my parents. The farmers like Bill and Sandra Rogers were wrapping up their fall work. It was a time when everyone knew each other and cared about each other, a remnant of World War Two when we were connected spiritually, politically and morally to one another.

Remember, this was early to mid-1960’s, so there were no cell phones, four channels on television and if a kid was really lucky he had a magnifying glass that he could use to set a leaf on fire or torture ants. If the Marr’s cows got out, we all helped herd them back home…it was what you did.

Today, on my way home, I stopped at good old Publix to get some groceries and was looking at some canned pumpkin at the front of the store. A young mother with her little girl in the cart, (buggy for you Tennesseans), strolled up and was looking too. For reasons unknown I asked her right out loud, “do you like to bake?” I smiled and due to the snow on my rooftop, (white hair) she smiled back and said, “I do but it isn’t REAL baking”. Chuckling I said, “you buy your pie crusts?” and she laughed and asked, “how did you know?”

I shared how my mother used to mix her own using ice water to keep the fat or butter cold when she cut it into the flour. The young mother marveled. “Now”, she asked as she pulled out her phone to take notes, “Can you use real butter when you make a crust?”  I said yes and explained back in the day my mom used both butter or lard. She shuddered…”LARD?!” I said, “Sure, you haven’t eaten if you haven’t had some lard in a big mess of Collards or a crust.”

An older woman within earshot heard us and she piped up. “Ice water gets d-r-i-z-zl-e-d into the mixture…don’t just pour it all in!” Not being the expert my mother was, I deferred to this older woman and nodded in agreement.” The two got into a conversation about baking and comparing freezer rolls to homemade rolls. I knew my time to depart had come so I bid them a good day and strolled off to produce section. But those few moments interacting with other humans made me realize what made the old days so wonderful.

People knew they could trust other people, and the thought of an older woman giving baking advice to a younger woman seemed perfectly natural. Women are better at this than men. Men like to appear self sufficient and independent of others. “I got my act together and don’t need anyone to tell me anything” they think, even though NO ONE has their act together and EVERYONE needs all the advice they can get. Back then, we knew we needed each other, but; today, the thought of interdependence seems lost even despised.

I finished shopping and paid for my purchases and walked out to my truck to pack em in and get em home. While I was loading up my back seat, a family with two children was walking toward the store to buy groceries. I always try to make eye contact when people are walking toward me….windows of the soul you know. When the father’s eyes met mine I…of course, opened my mouth reflexively. “Good lookin’ family you got there!” smiling.

The man scowled at me and his little boy said, “Daddy that man said something to you…” The father said, “You never talk to a stranger…I don’t care what they say to you….it dangerous.” My heart hurt for that little boy. Yes, we live in a world where danger is great and threats to children are greater still; but we need to teach our children to discern good intention from bad, and parents modeling that is far healthier than teaching them to fear everyone they meet.

Driving home and passing the Amish grocery again, I couldn’t help but wonder where the door back to Eden was, and how we could possibly turn the knob and open the door back to it…but in this world, and at this time in history, it will take Jesus to show us the way… and I promised myself right then and there, to never stop talking, never stop showing genuine concern, to never fear interacting with my neighbors because every time we connect, we bring the “good old days” back into our present.

The door to community is always open…if we are.

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Your Secret Weapon

There are days when; during stressful or troubling times, I allow my mind to wander back to 1964. In those days, my brothers and I would take walks down a lonely and unused road. The road had been abandoned over 50 years and all the asphalt was gone. Weeds grew up around the edges and the rain and sun had done their job, reducing it to a dirty, dusty path. We called it “The Old Lane”.

The old lane was a place we could walk and knew that it was our private domain. I used to slide my shoes in the old tire worn furrows and dust would billow up around me. I pretended I was a train as I slid my shoes imagining that the dust was the smoke from my smokestack. This is what kids did when there were only four channels on television and no such things as computers or video games…they played and used their imaginations. We had hours of fun, going back to the old persimmon tree, playing in fields that Bill Rogers plowed and created our own fun.

The old lane is symbolic to me of a simple, peaceful place where my mind and heart were safe. To this day, I can close my eyes and if I order my mind and heart to be still…I can go there and be safe.

Our minds were meant to be active agents in our earthly life. Not just doing figures and calculations or the busy work of doing our jobs. The mind was made by God to be the mechanism we use to calm our souls. It is all throughout Scripture.

“You will keep him in PERFECT PEACE whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 23:3

“ “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

My method of retreating to 1964 may be a temporary escape, but that is not what God wants. What if I were to tell you that in the midst of racial and political division, what you think upon will determine whether you have peace? The Kingdom of God is already within you. The Holy Spirit is here and at work in the earth. So…if the Kingdom is here and the Holy Spirit is here, God is waiting on you to do what ONLY you can do…use your mind to recall the promises of God.

No one can steal Kingdom peace. I don’t care what any politician does, I don’t care what the talking heads say on television…real peace is not dependent upon good news. It is not dependent upon what the Republicans or Democrats are doing. Peace is apart and above the things of earthly existence. It IS otherworldly. It comes when we quiet our minds and STOP letting our minds rule us. That is a tall order.

Our mind wants us to think about everything. In fact, the talking heads are always asking people they interview, “What do you think about what he or she said?” “ What do you think about what he or she did?” Think, think, think… the strategy to get you whipped up into a frothy frenzy and to make you THINK on everything and try to figure things out. News Flash…you won’t  be able to do it, but it is the strategy of the enemy of your soul to try to get you to worry about politics, about how dirty the house is, about that person who bugs you at work, about the funny sound your car is making when you drive…THINK, THINK, THINK!!!

How about this. Go quiet in the “think” section. Because your thought are not who you are. Lots of people get upset when I mention Eckhart Tolle. I don’t trust him for my salvation I trust Jesus. But Tolle has tripped over a Scriptural truth and uses it better than most Christians I know. Stillness, (that is to say, the ability to stop your mind from convincing you that it has to rule everything you do) is the key. Jesus said, “BE STILL, and KNOW that I AM GOD”.

Most of us will plan for months for our vacations, we will plan out our days, get out our calendars and plot out our academic schedules, but we won’t spend 30 minutes sitting in a quiet place without the television or music or anything else and just learn to be still before the Lord. THIS IS YOUR SECRET WEAPON AGAINST WORRY, FEAR, INSECURITY and anything else your mind wants to induce you to THINK upon!

Stillness before God can change insecurity about who you are (remember your thoughts are not who you are). It is in quiet stillness that God can place within you a lion-like confidence as you sit, not talking, not jabbering away. Just allowing His presence to infiltrate your spirit brings about wisdom, confidence, awareness and trust.

You and I are not in control of anything. You can’t control the weather, other people, your spouse, your children. You can’t control other drivers on the road or your co-workers attitudes. You have no control over the price of meat, or bread or whether or not they re-name Aunt Jemima pancake syrup. The majority of thoughts that vie for attention in your mind are cunning tools of an enemy that wants to disrupt the communication between you and his arch-enemy, Jesus. He wants you worried, stressed and wishes you would have a heart attack and die. He wants your most creative engine, a Spirit lead mind, to be busy doing other things besides creating peace in you, so that you can take it to the world.

And just so that you know that I don’t THINK I am all holy and special…I will leave you with this holy thought…Satan is a butt hole. Thank you and BE STILL while God destroys His enemies.

Your Pal,


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Charming the Cobra…

Titillation is the feeling we experience when actively seeking forbidden pleasure. It’s is the anticipation of a tactile reaction that can only be experienced when; we have given ourselves over to a force that could easily destroy us, yet: somehow, we escape unharmed. Seeking the thrills with none of the consequences.

As a foolish teen, my brothers and friends tempted traffic as we would run across I-65 and hide in the median and then race back over the interstate where our friends waited and would cheer our “courage”. It is amazing a semi-tractor trailer didn’t crush us into a grease spot on the highway, but the “high” one felt from cheating death was undeniable. Our pulse quickened, my eyes became alert and it is the only way that I could explain what it was like to do a mind-altering drug. It is an appropriate metaphor, drugs and running in front of semi-tractor trailers.

No doubt if you watch any type of dangerous sport, auto racing, motocross, skydiving, bungee jumping etc. you will see people who; without exception have become hooked on the thrill of cheating death. I don’t judge these people, but I realize that the need for excitement, even danger, is ever-present and actively sought for by many. In many ways, those who seek the elixir of thrills are very much like those who charm cobras

Even though cobras do not possess the ability to hear the music charmer, they are nonetheless hypnotized by the pungi that the charmer waves in front of the serpent. While it is illegal these days in India and across eastern Asians countries, earlier charmers in decades gone by, placed their lives in danger in order to charm a cobra for payment. The cobra considers the pungi as a predator and follows the pungi closely. The performance before a crowd gives the spectators the experience of danger and they pay the charmer handsomely for his/her courage, but many times it is a sham. Most charmers have pulled the fangs or sewn the cobras mouth shut so that only it’s tongue protrudes.

These days, the lust for a thrill causes us to seek cobra holes that we know are dangerous, but where the stakes and odds seemingly lean in our favor. Many don’t consider what I am going to describe as dangerous at all…but they are filled with venom and their bite will result in death as surely as the cobras. I am not addressing those who are of the world and do not believe or follow Christianity… I am speaking of Christians.

For those who have promised to give Jesus control of their lives and then have become enslaved to playing around the cobra hole of immorality and sensuality, confusion comes quickly and who we are in the sight of God is no longer clear. The serpent is coming to strike and we cry out for God to deliver us, all the while, mowing and clearing the path to get to the cobra hole easier. We become self-deceived as we begin to convince ourselves that God understands our weakness and makes allowances for it. But He does not. The construct of being able to live in sin while following Jesus is just that… a construct, and mental image that goes directly against the Word of God.

They start innocently enough. A casual look at the skirt in the next cubicle. Imagining that he understands you better than your husband and beginning to “admire” the man your co-worker appears to be. It begins with allowing your mind to wander so close to the cobra hole of an affair that you begin to obsess about it…and before long…as a man thinks…so is he. That’s because in humans there are two creations…the first what we construct in our minds, like an architect; and then, building the house. Speculation becomes the drawing board upon which we bring the abstract into reality…where we create from a mere thought the cobra hole that summons us to come near.

For the first few visits, the hole appears abandoned with no serpent in sight. This is the bait with any of the cobra holes we play around…adultery, pornography, deception, revenge. As soon as one has worn a trail to the cobra hole, whatever it may be, the trap snaps shut! “They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” 2 Peter 2:19 New Living Translation. The New American Standard Bible says it in a different way…” for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved..”

For those who have promised to give Jesus control of their lives and then have become enslaved to playing around the cobra hole of immorality and sensuality, confusion comes quickly and who we are in the sight of God is no longer clear. The serpent is coming to strike and we cry out for God to deliver us, all the while, mowing and clearing the path to get to the cobra hole easier. We become self-deceived as begin to convince ourselves that God understands our weakness and makes allowances for it. But He does not. The construct of being able to live in sin while following Jesus is a just that… a construct, and mental image that goes directly against the Word of God.

Let me tell you the consequences I received from playing around those cobra holes.

I used to live as a missionary and pastor. I traveled to foreign countries and speak two foreign languages. I used to sing ( yes, my fellow classmates in Columbus, I was so ashamed of being able to sing that I hid it from everyone…) I led praise and worship both in Portuguese and in English. I was part of a worship team that monthly sang over a satellite network. I once wrote a song in Brazil that swept across the nation and that God used mightily to bring others to himself. I once had the full trust of my former wife and children. Then I gave in to foolishness and went headlong into adultery. Here I was, a recipient of so many of God’s gifts, and this is how I repaid Him. It wasn’t just a one-time thing, but I will not go into it. The point is that I got bit playing around dangerous places…and my friend, so will you.

Do you know why I no longer pastor? Wonder why I don’t sing any longer? The Bible tells us that the gifts and calling of God are not able to be revoked…in other words, God will not change His mind about them, but He most certainly can and WILL restrict how they are used. I’ve had many say I should go and begin a church, but the truth is, the Lord has forbidden me from doing so. There are consequences for our sin my friends. We don’t think about those consequences, but they are real. While Jesus paid the price for the eternal consequences of our sin, there are some results we cannot run away from here on earth. For years, I was heartbroken by the realization that my own actions hurt my family and resulted in limiting my effectiveness for the Lord. God will not be mocked, and while I am forgiven, the Lord has made it clear that I may no longer be an established pastor in a church. I am not saying that God will require the same of others, but He HAS required it of me…

You may say, “Well, God would never tell you not to minister his Word!” I didn’t say that. In his great goodness and mercy, instead of teaching within a church; which is my gifting, the Lord granted me permission to write. This is why I write today. My zeal for the Lord continues, but the consequences of my sin restrict where and how I may do it. I now sit in my home in front of a computer instead of standing and teaching. It is a daily reminder of what my sin has cost me. Even though the Lord is slowly healing my relationship with my children, what I put them through is still painful in my heart and mind. I have never told this story publicly and I pray you will not judge me too harshly, but the Lord seldom does things for a singular reason.

He did not just create the Sun to heat the earth, but it is also a display and a metaphor of His glory. The sun also is the principal agent in the process of photosynthesis, by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.

Again, God seldom does something for a singular purpose.

And so, it has been my observation that when God teaches a lesson to us in life, it is seldom a lesson only for us. All things are made and used by God to demonstrate His goodness, His greatness and, His glory…even His discipline in our lives. My discipline from the Lord can become your lesson. You can learn obedience from my former disobedience. Even though this happened decades ago, like Jacob, I walk with a limp. I am free and forgiven and am full of joy, and I am thrilled to still be used by the Lord. But, do not tempt the Lord my friends…stay away from the cobra holes that beckon you with promises…there is only death there.