Posted on Leave a comment

First Lines…

I love the opening line to the book, “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.”

“She came from a world of sensible choices…”

The first lines in any narrative, are the introductory bricks in a sidewalk that lead us to the heart of a story. They are the whisper of former, unknown events that give insight into the character we are about to meet.

A first line is a choice.

Do you want to go further?

Are the following lines and pages, and chapters worth your time?

When an author gets it right, the best first lines of books are not a choice at all, but a capturing.

“He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle.”

From Doc by Mary Doria Sophie Russell

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents, grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

From Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

From The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”

From Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

See what I mean? The first lines are curtains drawing upward, the author leading you by the hand forward into a story (but also another world).

YOUR life has an opening line.

You are not the chance product of an evolutionary process. Your story is not the result of an explosion in a paper and ink factory…you were created as the main character…intentionally, deliberately, and thoughtfully.

And you either know this…or you don’t!

If you know that your life is a narrative read by others, you will craft it daily.

If, on the other hand, you are NOT aware that your life is a book read by the balance of those who observe, you will capture NO readers…you will simply type mindlessly upon the page of your existence.

I ask you…what is YOUR first line? What bricks will lead me, and others, into reading your life? Does it influence? Does it draw back the curtain behind which there is a captivating life…or will those who sit in attendance leave after the first act?

Christianity is about influence. And those who wish to have a significant effect on the earth must appeal to a broader audience than the few trapped within the salt boxes we call churches.


The message of the Gospel is not a drab re-hashing of a tired ancient Hebrew text.

It is the telling of a story…the one great story, whose first line is “In the beginning” and whose last line is, ““The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Rev. 22:21).

I urge you… be captivating and make it worth the while of others to explore your life by making your first line extraordinary.

Is your life worth other people’s time? Do they want to go further?

Don’t be ordinary… be uncommon, exceptional and unique.

As for me…I want to be a renaissance man…

A Renaissance Man…

By Doug Pacheco

“I want to be a Renaissance Man…

A renaissance man; renaissance man,

I want to be a renaissance man,

When I grow up one day.

A man who studies sun and star,

Who plays piano, flute, guitar,

Who runs the race both near and far,

A renaissance man I’ll be.

Who’s kind to children, loved by all

Who sees men as equal, big and small

With heroic deeds answers the call,

A renaissance man I’ll be.

A man who others often see

Repairing souls so they’ll be free,

In brokenness on bended knee,

A renaissance man I’ll be.

Who holds his peace ’til he has heard

The arguments of many words.

Whose own desires will be deferred,

A renaissance man I’ll be.

I would not stoop to lowly things

To be a monarch, prince, or King,

A coat of many colors bring,

For a renaissance man like me.

Who shares his wealth to horizons end,

Blessing children, stranger, and loyal friend;

And the widow’s rights he will defend,

A renaissance man I’ll be.

And when at last from earth I’m free,

And my grandchild comes to honor me,

Oh, may he fulfill this prophecy,

And be a renaissance man like me.

Posted on Leave a comment

Hands Sticking Out Of The Water…

As I sat on my patio this evening, I asked God what this gnawing feeling inside was all about. It felt like a splinter under the skin, but you can’t see it…there is something irritating in your soul


I admit that I wasn’t really expecting an answer. I just wanted relief.

I felt that the Lord said,

“When you were younger, you were so busy doing things and took little time to listen. He continued,

“Now, you have few things to do…but have all the time in the world to listen…and it bothers you.”

That kind of made me feel upset. Here I was trying to get some relief from my inward discomfort, but instead, I got the impression I was resisting something that God wanted me to do. it made me feel worse.

I wrinkled my brow, scowling at the ground.

“Oh…you don’t like that…?” he asked.

I didn’t speak. I just was quiet. There is nothing you can say to God that wouldn’t be prideful at that moment…He likes to test…He likes it a lot.

“You like to talk…but wisdom WANTS to listen so that when you speak, the words will have weight.”

These days I am eyeing retirement, working a little, and writing a lot. But with all of the issues swirling around the world these days, it feels like everything is thrown into a blender and placed in “puree” mode; it is difficult to understand what my activity should be.

But, I think the Lord is taking all of us back to basics. He has taught us (those who came into a relationship with Him a while back… in the Jesus Movement) to swim in placid waters.

Personally, for those my age and older, I feel that I am supposed to enter into the deep water of the personal turmoil of others and give swimming lessons in the midst of a hurricane.

There are many who will not make it to shore if they don’t have veteran swimmers to help them along.

I’m talking about coming alongside others to help them learn to trust Jesus instead of simply getting them saved and leaving them to either swim or drown.

It used to be called discipleship, but that word has a bad connotation these days.

The Christian life needs explaining.

It needs men and women who are humble and authentic lovers of Jesus that wish to serve others by sharing their experiences and helping others become like Him.

I was in the ocean on the outer edge of a hurricane in a dream not long ago.

The wind would sweep me almost out of the water in a circle. Every time it swept me out to sea, I would see a person’s hand sticking up out of the water, and I would grab their wrist, and then the wind would sweep me back toward the shore.

I would drop them off, and before I could stand up, the wind would sweep me back out to the deep where another person’s wrist was above the water.

I would grab them…but just then, a bolt of lightning lit the sky on maybe my fourth or fifth trip around in this hurricane. When the sky was lit up with the flash of lightning. I couldn’t believe my eyes…

I saw thousands of wrists and hands, maybe millions, of wrists and hands, sticking up out of the water. I could grab only one at a time…and every time I made the trip, there were fewer and fewer hands sticking up out of the water asking for help.

I began to swallow water and cough, but I wasn’t fearful I would drown. The Lord kept saying,

“You learned to swim during a time of peace…but it wasn’t so you could show your strokes…it was for this….”

I began to cry out… ”Oh Lord…they’re all going to drown if you don’t sweep others into the storm to help me!” That’s when He opened my eyes.

Another bolt of lightning crackled and lit up the ocean, and there…in the water… were thousands of us…. maybe millions…and everyone had hold of a wrist or a hand, pulling people up from under the water.

When the wind blew me toward the shore, I saw hordes of people on the beach…and people were trying to get them to safety inside. I woke up gasping for air.

As I sat quietly on my patio this evening, the Lord said,

“You can never tell which end is up in a storm at sea…that is why I walk on water…and as long as you look at me and believe, you won’t sink, and there will still be work to do no matter how old you are.”

The lesson the Lord was teaching me was that I learned that following Jesus in the deep end of the pool was not just for me when I was younger…

We learned to swim for others…for the hurricane yet to come.

“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest?

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now, the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus, the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”” John 4:35-38

Posted on Leave a comment

The First Time I Met Him…

The first time I met him, he was sitting on a park bench with two social workers in my hometown. Here was a nine-year-old boy, with; what I would describe as a short “mullet” looking down on the ground talking nervously to one of the social workers who happened to be one of my childhood classmates.

I have to give you the back story, because this meeting was years in the making.

As a child born in 1957, I was the last born of four children to my parents. I always gloried in the position of being the last-born child and It’s true what they say about us.

Parents have already spent their energies on the first born, instilling all the discipline into them. They make sure every surface of the house is sterilized so if the child puts something in his mouth from the floor, it won’t harm them.  

Suffice it say, my parents spent all of their good-intentioned discipline on the first three, by the time they got to me, I was eating spaghetti off the floor with the dog…they knew it wouldn’t kill me and I credit it with never having gotten Covid. The things that live in my body would resist a space virus.

I was also the one that was allowed to do things that the first three were not.

I got to go out with friends alone at an earlier age than they had, I was allowed to wear clothing that the others had been denied, and my so-called “curfew” was often talked about, but rarely enforced. This royally pissed off my older siblings…but c’est la vie!

 Yes, we last borns really ARE BRATS, and I loved it!

HOLLA last borns!

You can imagine then that I was comfortably ensconced in my position as the last Pacheco of the family.

So, by 1995, it was a forgone conclusion that those included in our tiny tribe of six, my parents and three siblings, was now a closed community.

When you look at the genealogy of Jesus, you must wade through some pretty embarrassing relatives. In His family tree, Jesus was related to a murderer and adulterer, (King David) and Abraham, the first wife swapper (…gave his wife away twice…).

He was related to a guy who had been sold into slavery by his own brothers, (Joseph), and had a very famous harlot, ( a Ho…) by the name of Rahab who had hidden the Hebrew spies when they were doing Recon on Jericho.

Also, for all intents and purposes, Jesus was in the strictest sense of the word, Illegitimate.

Joseph was not his father…and it was a real stretch for anyone to believe that the Holy Spirit had impregnated Mary. So, he had to endure that indignity his entire life…the Pharisees called him a bastard.

In 1993…my brother Greg, who has now gone on to be with the Lord, called me and told me that I was no longer the youngest in our family. He related the fact that my father, now also gone to be with the Lord, (I got to lead him to Jesus before He died,) had fathered a child and of course not with my mother.

Let me say, how very much I love and honor my father regardless of whatever mistakes he made and although it is a dark thing, it still does not do away with the 80 years of faithful love and service he gave to everyone he knew. Many relatives didn’t know about my half-brother, or the true story because when we became his legal guardians, we took him away to Cincinnati with jus where we lived…

But of course, there are consequences to our actions…and I was about to meet my younger brother sitting on that park bench in my hometown.

The social worker informed me that the boy had been carried by a mother who drank heavily during her pregnancy, but by grace, he had only a mild case of fetal alcohol syndrome. When I first met him, I was told that his home experience was one of lice and visits from the police. At nine years old he already had a rap sheet at the local police dept for minor things, but the direction of his life was headed south.

 Here I was, the youngest of my four siblings from the 1950’s and my wife and I could just envision a newspaper headline in the future announcing that a young man in my hometown was dead due to some kind of gang activity. We talked it over with each other and the Health and Human Services people in my hometown and it was agreed by all parties that my wife and I would become his legal guardians.

It was rocky…that’s all I’m going to say about it. Trying to do the right thing in this case was a major rough spot with my natural children and our new son…the same age as our youngest son. But here is the point…

I sleep with the television on…sometimes with scripture on YouTube, sometimes on Prime with a movie playing. I like noise when I sleep…I’m a strange bird.

This morning, at around 2 a.m. I woke up to the movie, “The Blind Side” The story of Michael Oher, professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens. A homeless boy taken in by some well to do family and superbly played by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I watched it for the 30th time and cried again at 2 a.m.  right when Michael Oher at the end of the movie said, “I need a proper hug!”

My half brother grew and joined the Marine Corp. He had a hard time in school and we bumped heads a LOT! But, today, he is married to a beautiful wife, and working as a communications supervisor (His MOS in the Marine Corp.) with a company in Cincinnati.

You and I are also adopted. We were sitting in squalor and destined to be just another casualty of lost humanity, until Jesus came along. Scripture says we are “adopted” as sons and daughter of the Most High, and the Father looks upon us just like He sees Jesus…Holy and Righteous.

We have an abundant portion of the family wealth and are included in His inheritance.

Do we get that?

I don’t tell this story for any pats on the back. There were times I wish I had just turned my back on that kid and walked away. I’m no hero.

For years I hadn’t heard from him. There had been a lot of tension in our family and when he left, he was angry. For years we heard nothing. I went through a divorce and moved away.

About a year ago, after almost ten years of silence…I got a call on my cell phone.

“hey…” said the voice on the other side of the phone.

I broke into a wide grin…there was only one guy in the whole world who had that raspy voice!”

I said, “Hey man!!!!! How you doin?!!!” I was genuinely excited. All the unpleasant memories melted away, there was only gratitude that he had surfaced again. He told me about his wedding, his dogs, his lovely wife, where he lived and what he was doing. He had a good job, and a nice home.

I was thrilled! I have to say, having been separated from him for all those years, I had missed him immensely. He and I had private jokes that we would laugh at.  We of course repeated those jokes to each other and laughed our butts off over that phone call.

And then… and, I am crying as I write this, (my wife just  walked by and said, “You’re a hot mess!”) his voice got serious…and I heard him begin to choke back tears.

“I wanted to tell you…” the words came out slowly…but deliberately.

“I wanted to say, thank you for saving my life.” I had to pull over to the side of the road.  Couldn’t see any more…the tears immediately clouded my vision.

“I wanted to say, I’d be dead…and you changed my life.”  

I gotta say, I learned all about ugly crying right then. I mean…you would not have wanted to hear me. He was crying too and right there in the cab of my truck, on the side of the road, over a microwave signal in the air, my brother and I found redemption.

That’s how the Lord feels about those who are far away from Him.

Even though the angels rejoice when we come home…I think in my own little head…that the Lord pulls over to the side of the road and ugly cries too. He says, “FINALLY…my son, my daughter is home!”

As we ended the call, I didn’t want to hang up…but I heard him say,

“Man, I wish you were here so I could give you a big hug!”

I thought to myself this morning as I watched the end of The Blind Side…

”That’s right Josh….I need a proper hug.”

Posted on Leave a comment

Lessons From Homer Smith…

I am an old movie fanatic and…I happen to be a huge Sidney Poitier fan. If you have never read his book, “The Measure of a Man” you are missing out. It isn’t a Christian book, but you need to broaden your reading anyway…

The movie “The Lillies of the Field” was a story that Ralph Nelson a movie producer had run across. He had approached United Artist with the idea, and they said, “Yeah…sure…why not?”

But they didn’t give him much money for the picture. He had to mortgage his own home in order to meet the production schedule. The entire movie was shot in the Arizona Desert in two weeks including rehearsal and actual filming. The entire budget for the film? $250,000.00

Sidney Poitier in 1964 won the Academy Award for the Best Actor for his part as Homer Smith…a drifting handy man who’s car overheated in the Arizona heat and was drafted by five East German nuns to build what they called a “shapel” (chapel.)

Now, I’m not here to give movie reviews but I believe in God calling us when we are stranded along the road. I remember when I was stranded.

Not literally. But I was drifting.

I had injured myself at Indiana University in a gymnastics accident and lost my athletic scholarship.

 Shipwrecked and alone in a small Kentucky town, I had no direction. One minute I was a member of a Big Ten Gymnastics team…and in a flash, I was sweeping floors in a greasy gas station in Owensboro Kentucky. And God, finally had me where he wanted me. Broken, alone and humble. Then he showed up and said, “Okay…you’re ready!”

You have to be at the bottom when God calls you.

You might have all the money in the world and fame and fortune or have absolutely nothing…but you have to be at the bottom…broken, with a broken heart or… Jesus won’t take you otherwise…

He won’t take you if you are self sufficient and proud.

He won’t be able to use you like Homer Smith, until you give in…and give up…and just surrender.

At one point in the movie, a Mexican family donates a small truckload of bricks to help build the chapel.

 Homer is a lapsed Baptist and when this little East German Nun, who has prayed for these bricks greets the truck with joy that her prayer has been answered, Homer chides her and says, “These won’t be nearly enough!” The Mother Superior played by Lilia Skala, responds, “Oh…then we pray some more!”

Your purpose and calling is costly. THE CALLING OF GOD REQUIRES ONGOING CONSTANT PRAYER. You can’t get your first load of bricks and say, “Wow Lord, this isn’t enough!”

We must do the asking…He does the supplying… AND HE WATCHES TO SEE IF WE WILL KEEP ON BELIEVING!

Just because you are called doesn’t mean God is going to do everything! He requires YOU to do the praying, and the persevering and the confessing.

He will do the heavy lifting, but my friend, He won’t do the lifting unless He has a partner who is as committed to seeing the work done as He is! He just won’t!

There is someone reading this who is about to give up. Maybe you have already.

You had some success in your life, but you’ve hit a hard place…everything seems dark…you ‘re broken down on the side of the road like Homer Smith and your radiator needs water. In the moment when all seems lost…when everything you hoped for is slipping from between your fingers…

Your resurrection day is about to dawn!

God builds chapels with people like YOU…the reluctant ones, the ones who have to be pushed and prodded like Homer Smith to build that “Shapel”.

But I am not so sure that the reluctant ones aren’t God’s favorite children!

Because when you finally give in… He knows you really mean it!

When my radiator was empty, God called me to be an encourager. He called me for you…today.

Press on! That “Shapel” is going to materialize…but you need to get up and brush off your backside and just buck up and believe!

Keep going, keep praying, keep persevering.

One day soon, a small truckload of bricks will be coming down the road.

Elijah prayed for rain and all he got at first was a tiny cloud, the size of a man’s hand…but as he continued to pray, the drought that had been over the land for many years, was halted by the flood that God produced due to his perseverance.

Steaming radiators are a sign that you are ready to be used.

And God says, “Finally!”

Happy Easter…God resurrects the broken dreams of the heart.

Posted on Leave a comment

“Resenting the Bottom Rungs…”

Climbing the ladder to the top begins at the bottom...

“As he stepped over the border, he felt no difference in the soil beneath his feet. Taking his first few steps into the unknown, he could not detect that he was now 10 yards within the boundary of a new country; a country into which he had never ventured. In fact,  since he felt no resistance; no hostility and no opposition, he became at once resentful that his journey toward great discovery was something that “any ordinary man” in his words could do. He had imagined it would at once be treacherous and adventurous, but this slow trudging across the open plain met with his disapproval and he despised that the leisurely manner of his first strides toward greatness seemed ordinary and without fanfare…”

“The Journey to Extraordinary” ©2020 Doug Pacheco All Rights Reserved.

Anything that I have attempted to do in life that still has value to me today, eventually required an incredible amount of dedication and hard work. Now, I must admit that; in the beginning,  many of the exploits that I embarked upon began with common and ordinary tasks that anyone around me could do.

In track and field, I discovered everyone could run and; at first, I wondered how hard this was going to be until a stopwatch appeared and the coach said, “The first 5 across the finish line are going to make the team and the rest can go to the showers!” It was then I realized this was not going to be a leisurely run and “racing” began a whole new challenge for me.  While the first few steps of that race seemed like everyone could do it, it was not the first few steps that made the team…even though everyone at that starting line would be required to run them. It was the resolve to endure the hardship of the race…the difficulty of the next few thousand steps that would determine the five who would finish first. Many who began with ease either walked off the track after a lap or two and headed for the showers or stopped running because what appeared easy at first, revealed that not everyone could do it. There were even some who said, as they watched the final five cross the finish line, “I thought it was going to be easy in the first lap, but…it wasn’t!”

That is the point of the struggle. As Publilius Syrus said, “Do not despise the bottom rungs in the ascent to greatness.” And as Lewis Hawes states: “Greatness is the survival of your vision across an extended timeline.”

Years ago, as a young man, a few friends of mine thought it would be a test of courage to climb an antenna tower. The challenge was thrown down that whoever could climb the ladder to the top was the real man. At first, one of my friends looked at the ladder and laughed and said “No problem” but it wasn’t until he got past the first few rungs that he suddenly realized  that the first rungs committed him to climbing to the top of a mast almost 1000 feet up! It’s easy to disrespect the climb up the first few steps on the ladder of greatness, but we need to respect them as much at the ones 10,000 feet higher up!  The crowd at the beginning of a race is thinned out after the first few steps.

In terms of your job, having respect for and climbing the lower positions of your company show those in leadership that there is no “unimportant step” to you in your journey to greater responsibility. When you show disregard for the lower positions or even contempt for them; the chances of getting through the complexities of difficult human interaction are diminished drastically…because it is always the first rungs on the ladder that teach us how to endure the next ones.

The lower rungs on any climb; either in vocation or personal calling, teach us the skills necessary for the long climb. They teach us how to pace ourselves, how to thoroughly complete small projects with excellence so that larger tasks will be possible. Without the lower rungs of a ladder, you cannot get up to the top where the few who endured the bottom rungs live.

There is a story about Columbus crossing the ocean on his voyage to the New World that King Ferdinand granted him the title: “Admiral of the Ocean Seas” and  he asked Columbus how he had found his way so clearly to the “West Indies.” Columbus commented that he used the skills he had learned as a young sailor reading the sextant and marking the distance by a method he had learned as a young man.  

It is reported that Isabella and Ferdinand then asked, “You mean the abilities learned by ANY young sailor on your ship could have found it Columbus?” Columbus smiled broadly and replied, “No my Sovereign, only ANY  young sailor able to endure 40 years of mocking and ridicule for dreaming of finding the New World would have found it!”

Perhaps in your career, you have held your lower position with contempt as you longed for the promotion to a higher rung on the ladder. But what you don’t know is, it is the hidden quality of perseverance…climbing rung by rung that shows God…YES, GOD whether or not you are ready to move up.

“For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.”

The prizes God hands out for leadership go to those who can and will endure the mocking of naysayers on the lower rungs of the ladder. They will put up with and endure those lesser positions, the first steps of the race and demonstrate excellence in the obscure jobs… because the qualities learned in those positions are pre-requisites for being able to handle the heat of the rungs higher up and closer to the sun.

If you are a middle manager, a non-partner attorney in a law firm, a talented doctor wishing to become Chief of Staff at a hospital or maybe a young apprentice working for a plumber in a hole with water up to your knees waiting your turn to become certified…God is watching you. He is waiting for the lower rungs to do their job to see what you are made of. He is waiting to see if you will throw in the towel or go out and try to make a name for yourself without paying the price of running the first two or three thousand paces of the race. How you handle the bottom rungs will determine how you will handle the top ones… DP

Posted on

The Chicago Way…

A few decades ago, I had a friend who had a somewhat worrisome problem. He was being bullied by a kid and as these things always go, he couldn’t sleep and was becoming resistant to going to school. On a weekend; as we rode our bikes, we talked about his problem and about the kid who was bullying him.

The bully was just another kid who was a friend of mine. He wasn’t particularly bigger or smarter or more popular than my pal Randy with whom I hung out, but for some reason, what had started as making a joke at Randy’s expense, became an all-out, daily ritual of public humiliation. Because my friend Randy was from a Christian home, he did his best to understand Jesus teaching of “turning the other cheek, but not only did it NOT stop the bullying…it added fuel to the fire! The bully waxed bolder.

Randy began avoiding the usual path into school when he got off the school bus. He would get off the bus and go around to the side door and run up the stairs straight to the classroom, thereby avoiding the hallway where the bully waited daily to “cut him off at the pass” and start taunting him. After the bully found out Randy’s strategy he would go and wait in the stairwell where Randy would run and continue his bullying there. Randy started a new tactic, which; at first confused the bully. Randy began to laugh along with others when the bully would taunt him in an attempt to make it look good natured and appear that he enjoyed the abuse. In reality, Randy confided in me that the guy bullying him was eroding his self confidence so much that he hated himself for being so afraid.

I remember seeing this usually happy, funny and good-natured kid, sit sullen, eyes downcast and quiet. He began to doubt whether “turning the other cheek” was such a good idea. Randy commented that he had hoped the bully would tire of taunting him but, it had escalated from mere words, to Randy now getting pushed and shoved in the back hallways of school and being threatened. The kid who was doing the bullying, now had a “posse” and they would actually make my friend do demeaning things telling him that “if you do this, we’ll stop bullying you!” Ashamedly, with tear filled eyes, my friend confided in me that he had complied with their requests, even barking like a dog to their laughter and derision. He hated himself.

On a different weekend, after months of this kind of abusive bullying…I could only see a shell of a boy where before he had been confident and full of life. You wonder why kids take their own lives? It is because they live in a prison of self-hatred…believing that there really IS something wrong with them…and looking in the mirror they begin to hate themselves for ever complying and appeasing their tormentors.

I looked at my friend and whether or not you agree with me, I told him, to stop changing his routine, and to stand up for himself. Now…it is here in the story where I ask you, what would YOU have told him to do? Go the teachers or Principal and ask him to talk to the bully? Randy had tried that with only temporary results. Have his parents speak to the bully’s parents? He did that, but it only made the bully more aggressive and want revenge. So, Randy and I made a plan. On the next Monday morning, Randy walked boldly through the front door of the school, books in hand and looking straight ahead.

The bully began his withering attack toward my friend and this time, Randy told him to stop. The bully became angry and said, “Make me!” Randy’s right fist landed squarely on the nose of the bully. The “posse” immediately wet their pants and the bully crumpled onto the floor crying and calling for the teacher. Both were marched to the Principal’s office and…even though the principal knew the circumstances and probably thought the bully had gotten what he deserved…he punished both of them.

Randy later told me, smiling ear to ear, that it was the best punishment he had ever had!

From that day on, there was no more bullying. Randy walked with impunity down the hallway and wasn’t bothered anymore. Hs confidence returned and he later told me that he had misunderstood “turning the other cheek.” He had thought it meant to take any injustice and cower in defeat. But it didn’t mean that at all. It meant in terms of injustice concerning Christ and our faith, we were to love unconditionally and go the extra mile…but it DIDN’T mean to purchase peace by allowing evil to triumph over good!

Randy is a parable to show you the path to how we as a country have arrived at the place of being “a divided nation.” And yes, I’m fixing to give somebody a bloody nose!

For decades conservatives have bought in to an absolutely ridiculous and pacifistic philosophy that we need to “purchase” peace by not making the left “angry”. Many good hearted, clear thinking conservatives, most of whom believe that when you are maligned politically or accused maliciously that you just stand silently and take it, think that peace can be purchased by silence. The left has advanced dangerous and threatening policies that have brought our country to the precipice of disaster as a result of not being challenged.

Enter Donald Trump. Trump believes in the philosophy that Sean Connery espoused in the movie “the Untouchables”.
Connery: “You said you wanted to know how to get Capone. Do you really want to get him?”
Kevin Costner looks inquisitively—
Connery: “You see what I’m saying don’t you? What are you prepared to do?
Costner: “Everything within the law.”
Connery, “and then what are you prepared to do?” “If you open the door on these people Mr Ness, you must be prepared to go all the way! Because they won’t give up the fight until one of you is dead!”
Costner: “I want to get Capone, I don’t know how to get him!”
Connery: “Want to get Capone? Here’s how you get him… He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue…THAT’s the Chicago way! Now…do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m making you a deal… do you want this deal?”
Costner: I have sworn to put this man away with any and all legal means at my disposal, and I will do so!”
Connery: Well, the Lord hates a coward…do you know what a blood oath is Mr. Ness? (shaking hands)
Costner: Yes…
Connery: “Good… cause you just made one.”

What you are thinking right now is, “That is SO unchristian!” “How can you even THINK of going so stridently against scripture you warmonger!” Well, besides the obvious of metaphors killing and bloodshed, no it isn’t. I am not calling for bloodshed even though I will be accused of that. I am calling conservatives to not back down from a good argument! I am urging them to NOT remain silent in some ridiculous belief that by being quiet we won’t make people, “angry.” I am sick and tired of that stupid straw man. “Oh, don’t say anything that will bring an “us vs. them” argument!!! It just makes our nation divided!” In other words, just let them slander your beliefs and pass legislation without making a contradictory argument and it will show love and peace. I’m sorry, but my B.S. meter just went off!

Our forefathers fought and died in numerous wars for our freedom. Many left widows and children in the wake of fighting for our right to assemble peaceably and to bear arms. They gave their lives away to be able to protect our freedom to petition Congress for a redress of grievances. We current members of this family legacy have to understand that what used to happen with bullets and mortar rounds is now taking place with words and withering character assassination…and Christian conservatives had better use the reason and eloquence bequeathed to them by Almighty God or lose everything that our forefathers fought for!

What Trump has taught the conservatives in our country in three short years is that you never bring a knife to a gun fight. You counter every argument with the same virulence that it came at you. It doesn’t win you friends…but he doesn’t need more friends…and neither do I. What is dividing us as a nation is that we don’t have to swallow everything the left feeds us…we have refused and they don’t like it because the right has begun to “speak up.” Trump has thrown an elbow and the left has a major bloody nose and they don’t know what hit them. Like the character Howard Beale in the 1975 blockbuster “Network” “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

If you believe that any kind of uncomfortable discourse involving pointing out obvious error from the left is non-productive…you don’t in my opinion understand Christian reason. If you think that Christians cannot argue coherently in a social network and make conservative political statements that will anger the left while still loving them…you may need to study what love really is. If you feel that Patriotism is better served in silence and believe it to be a gentle quiet and loving force in society, that may be true in terms of loving unconditionally as a Christian, but it is NEVER to be silent about politics because Christianity preaches a Jesus upon whose shoulders rests the government of the nations.

While all of us possess different gifts, given by God, the one character trait we ALL have in common is courage. We can reason and argue righteous points if we are not afraid of losing friends. These days, we don’t stone prophets…we ridicule and laugh at them. We must not be afraid of speaking truth in order to pacify conditional friendships. No, politics is not necessarily the hill we want to die on… but standing for truth and opposing false ideas disguised as “compassion” and “reasonable” most certainly is.


I am willing to throw some elbows…and I’m willing to take a few. But never, EVER mistake my desire to win you over to Christ or speak the truth of Biblical principles in government as me appeasing or opposing philosophies… because at the end of the day, according to biblical and Godly principles…right, will ALWAYS make might! And THAT is God’s way in my book!

Posted on Leave a comment

Killing a Lion in a Pit on a Snowy Day…

He bent down on hands and knees to look closely at the tracks in the snow. Having been raised by a father who loved to hunt, Benaiah the son of Jehoida was accustomed to hunting as a boy. He had been timid at first to handle a sling, a sword and finally a spear but, with every hunt Benaiah grew more and more confident. As he matured, he grew strong and would go hunting by himself in the wilderness. As year passed into decade, his culminated experience brought him to the moment he was now accustomed to. Benaiah was no longer hunting birds or boars…he was hunting lions.

“Scripture doesn’t tell us what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he encountered this lion. We don’t know the time of day or Benaiah’s frame of mind. But Scripture does reveal his gut reaction. And it was gutsy. It ranks as one of the most improbable reactions recorded in Scripture. Usually, when the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optical nerve and registers in the visual cortex, the brain has one over-arching message: Run away. Normal people run away from lions. They run as far and as fast as they possibly can. But lion chasers are wired differently. For the vast majority of us, the only lions we’ve ever encountered were stuffed or caged. And few of us have experienced hand-to-hand combat that forced us to fight for our lives. But try to put yourself in Benaiah’s snowshoes.

Out of the corner of his eye, Benaiah sees something crawling. I don’t know how far away the lion is—and their vision is probably obscured by falling snow and frozen breath—but there is a moment when Benaiah and the lion lock eyes. Pupils dilate. Muscles tense. Adrenaline rushes. What a Hollywood moment. Imagine watching it on the movie screen with THX surround sound. Your knuckles turn white as you grip the theater seat. Blood pressure escalates. And the entire audience anticipates what will happen next. Lion encounters tend to script the same way. Man runs away like a scaredy-cat. Lion gives chase. And king of the beasts eats manwich for lunch.

But not this time! Almost as improbable as falling up or the second hand on your watch moving counterclockwise, the lion turns tail and Benaiah gives chase. The camera films the chase at ground level. Lions can run up to thirty-five miles per hour and leap thirty feet in a single bound. Benaiah doesn’t stand a chance, but that doesn’t keep him from giving chase. Then the lion makes one critical misstep. The ground gives way beneath his five-hundred-pound frame, and he falls down a steep embankment into a snow-laden pit. For what it’s worth, I’m sure the lion landed on his feet. Lions are part of the cat genus, after all.

No one is eating popcorn at this point. Eyes are fixed on the screen. It’s the moment of truth as Benaiah approaches the pit. Almost like walking on thin ice, Benaiah measures every step. He inches up to the edge and peers into the pit. Menacing yellow eyes stare back. The entire audience is thinking the same thing: Don’t even think about it. Have you ever had one of those moments where you do something crazy and ask yourself in retrospect: What was I thinking? This had to be one of those moments for Benaiah. Who in their right mind chases lions? But Benaiah now has a moment to collect his thoughts, regain his sanity, and get a grip on reality. And the reality is this: Normal people don’t chase lions.

So Benaiah turns around and walks away. The audience breathes a collective sigh of relief. But Benaiah isn’t walking away. He’s getting a running start. There is an audible gasp from the audience as Benaiah runs at the pit and takes a flying leap of faith. The camera pans out.

You see two sets of tracks leading up to the pit’s edge. One set of footprints. One set of paw prints. Benaiah and the lion disappear into the recesses of the pit. The view is obscured to keep it PG-13. And for a few critical moments, the audience is left with just the THX soundtrack. A deafening roar echoes in the cavernous pit. A bloodcurdling battle cry pierces the soul. Then dead silence. Freeze-frame. Everybody in the theater expects to see a lion shake its mane and strut out of the pit. But after a few agonizing moments of suspense, the shadow of a human form appears as Benaiah climbs out of the pit. The blood from his wounds drips on the freshly fallen snow. Claw marks crisscross his face and spear arm. But Benaiah wins one of the most improbable victories recorded in the pages of Scripture.”1

When I was a young man I had to look for a job after leaving college with an injury. I recall looking in all kinds of places and in a strange turn of events I ended up selling waterless cookware door to door along with some pretty bullet proof Chinaware. Now I want you to imagine a guy showing up at your door toting a suitcase. You open your door and there stands a young guy with a suitcase in his left hand and he says, “Hello, My name is….. and I am here to show you the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah….SLAM! Yeah, that’s pretty much the way that went.

I went to restaurants, homes, churches, civic clubs, and even talked to secretaries at their desks. I would look for young women with engagement rings on their fingers in order to ask them if they had anything in their “hope” Chests except for “Hope”. (yeah, I used that line…not effective!!) This as you may imagine was a tough sell. I mean…TOUGH. Trying to sell something that people could buy at any time much less expensively than for what I could sell it to them. Imagine trying to sell ice in Antarctica. That was kind of like what I was doing. Yes, my manager would tell me I wasn’t selling “waterless cookware” I was selling cooking in half the time! I tried to remember that when over 100 doors would slam in my face.

While that may sound pathetic (and…it was), there was a preparation taking place that I didn’t understand. I was hunting small game. The very act of taking on an absurd job was an indication to God that I was willing to do anything in order to succeed. There is a powerful motivation placed into the heart of every young person, man or woman, that wants to do something meaningful. It is a sense of destiny. We even say to ourselves, “I want to do something to change the world!” Perhaps you know what I am about to say intuitively, but, great opportunities are almost always preceded by small, absurd opportunities that no one is lining up to do. I should have known when I showed up to interview for that job that it maybe wasn’t the greatest opportunity when the receptionist was sitting in an empty office at a small desk near the railroad tracks in my hometown. Not a lot of competition for this job.

Many people think that REAL spiritual learning takes place in church. THAT my friends, is a serious error. This is what has happened to the church. Many Christians have divorced true opportunities for practicing spirituality for a weekly visit to Bedtime Baptist. The majority of our spiritual training takes place outside of the cushy, hug loving, hand lifting Sunday go-to meeting church. I will go as far as to say, Sunday meetings; as important and scriptural as they are, (Pastors who read this, I DO encourage all Christians to attend church so don’t start ragging on me here,) are only a tiny percentage of the training we need in order to be effective for God’s Kingdom here in the earth.

The REAL training we experience takes place in the opportunities that God provides during our week when we must show unconditional love to people who are not so lovely. Being patient when co-workers treat you with contempt, working hard during work hours and not cheating the employer when it would be easy to do so, taking only the thirty minutes or hour for lunch instead of taking an hour and a half. These little “insignificant” events are the training God uses to find those who will be faithful in the small things when He is looking for someone to use in a meaningful way in the lives of others.

If you have ears to hear what I am about to say, God was trying to see if you and I; like Benaiah, would hunt down the insignificant opportunities he has brought across our paths to determine what we were made of. My friends Bob Perry and Bill Bennot began the Nashville House of Prayer in Bill Bennot’s garage almost fifteen years before God allowed Bob to step onto Air Force One to pray over the Presidents plane. Hidden gold is almost always disguised as trivial tasks to check our motivation. Bill and his wife Connie oversee one of the most influential churches in South Africa today. Small game hunters at first turned Lion killers!

The point is, if we are willing to be faithful in small and even might I say, dead end places in order to obey God, God will and can reward that boldness by giving us world changing and life changing assignments. Being successful in God’s economy has nothing to do with your professional delivery of a sales pitch and everything to do with being bold enough to knock on the door. In my case, back in the day of door to door pots and pan sales, I viewed life as a polka. I was a 90 pound weakling and I was dancing with an 800 pound partner. I needed to move fast and stay out of the way! But I WAS willing to dance…and THAT is what God was waiting to see!

In his book “If Only”, Dr. Neal Roese makes a fascinating distinction between two types of regret: regrets of action and regrets of inaction. A regret of action is “wishing you hadn’t done something.” In theological terms, it’s called a sin of commission. A regret of inaction is “wishing you HAD done something.” It’s called a sin of omission”.

In terms of regrets of action, there are quite a few things I truly regret doing in my youth. But in terms of regrets of “inaction”, I have very few. It’s because I disovered even in failure that God uses every single triumph and failure to bring us to the moment of our greatest tests. I highly recommend the book, “Killing a Lion in a Pit on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson. It’s old, but it’s message is timeless.

Jesus wants to heal the sick, the brokenhearted and proclaim the favorable year of the Lord through us. He wants to use you in words of knowledge, and wisdom, and yes, even raising the dead. He is watching to see who will do the small game hunting, so that; when the lions need to be chased, there will be thousands of us ready to run toward the pit to slay the lions of our generation. Thank you to my “lion Hunters” of the faith, Connie Bennot and Bill Bennot, Bob Perry, Nick Pappis and Patricia Pappis, Bob Weiner and Rose Russell Weiner, and the dozens of men and women who; without a thought, jumped into the pit with lions and came out victorious.

[1] Killing a Lion in a Pit on a Snowy Day Mark Batterson © Multnomah Press 1993-2002 All Rights Reserved [2] Ibid

Posted on 1 Comment

The Days are moving faster…

When I was a child summer vacation from school lasted four years…or so it seemed. Running and playing in the woods near our home, riding bikes with Kent Tovey my pal, swimming in Terrace Lake; summer was an almost endless journey in the halcyon days of my youth.

These days, it seems like we had cookouts every weekend, the Four-H Fair appeared to last a month and we went to the fair every night. Pick up baseball and basketball games were on every corner…and; especially in the 1960’s, going OUT to eat was like…OMG!!!! Even then, “going out to eat’ meant Frisch’s or even more rare…going to “Lotus Gardens” in Greenwood Indiana.

Then, when school began, it seemed that school lasted four years as well. Days seemed to go slowly, the clock ticked once every five seconds it seemed. Teachers spoke like Charlie Brown’s teacher…”Wha wha wha, wha wha….WH WHA wha wha!” As a Catholic kid, I tried to make other kids laugh while they were standing in line for communion…’cause they’d get in trouble from one of the sisters if they were caught giggling. I was a troublemaker, but then, so were Steve Deppe, and Terry Harper and Kirk Long and Don McGuire, partners in crime…all. One day in elementary school lasted approximately 3 days back then. The sun; not having much to do, would stand stationary for two hours in the morning right about during reading and it stood still for 3 hours during math class.

Around 7th grade, something peculiar happened. Days began to move a little faster. A bell would ring and then I noticed the clock ticking pretty much every second…but a second back then was longer of course. Maybe the teachers got prettier…or maybe I just noticed them nore…well, Mr. Hughes didn’t get cuter, but…well ‘nuff said. However, it began to move into a regular 24 hour day by the time I reached High School.  Summer vacations got shorter and less adventuresome.

 By the time I had grown up enough to have a family, days had begun moving at a much faster clip. I recall one day was only 6 hours long….don’t bother to contradict me…it WAS only 6 hours long and that’s when I knew that God had been hiding something from me…from ALL of us! He had been hiding the fact that life was actually a fleeting thing and that we had better make something of ourselves during the short time we have here.

I didn’t think that was quite fair, hiding this information from little kids all that time. By the time you grow up enough to realize that eating six hot dogs quickly was a bad idea and that picking your nose wasn’t socially acceptable, you had three kids of your own and the guy running the Tilt-a Whirl at the Four- H- Fair was some creepy carnival dude who smoked too many Lucky Strikes. You wondered how in the world your parents could have dropped you off to roam free in the midway with all of the strange people on the loose.

These days, my days last approximately, 20 minutes. I eat breakfast at 3 am, lunch at 10 and dinner at 3:30. My wife seems to just get home right before I wind the alarm clock, brush my teeth and get in bed. This is why people get old quickly. God turns up the speed of the earth as you get older and you age 30 years in six months. Your tiny grandchildren yesterday are running for Congress today, and in 20 minutes they will be bouncing a grandchild on THEIR knees while you will have been dust for 20 years.

Such is the rhythm of life and as you contemplate that, also consider this…if you could stretch a rope 5 hundred yards in front of you…so that you stood on one end of it and could barely see the other end, the life you now live would only take up one inch of it. That’s right…one inch. 80 years maybe? One inch, or even less, and then all of the decisions you made in that one inch would  determine what you would experience in the other 500 yards. The problem is, the rope isn’t only 500 yards long…it goes on for eternity. The decisions you make…concerning Jesus, concerning how you treat your neighbor, concerning who is most important in your life RIGHT NOW…will determine EVERYTHING. And the earth and the Sun seem to be moving faster still.

Posted on Leave a comment

Why God uses less than perfect people…

When it comes right down to it, every morning when I pray and ask the Lord to use me throughout my day, I have to remind myself exactly what I’m asking.

If I look at world history and even more interesting, Bible history…I see the people that God used were the hidden, the unknown, the cowardly and the loud mouths.

God used doubters, shepherds and unlikely rich men…like Joseph of Arimathea. If he hadn’t given away his tomb, we would never have heard of him! Who would have chosen Harry Truman to be President? No one these days…that’s for sure. David was hidden in a stinking herd of sheep and was so unimportant that his father didn’t even consider him when Samuel came a knockin, looking for a king.

So, when I pray in the morning for God to use me, I am asking him to select me from the billions of nobodies in the world who are perhaps the least qualified people. God found Gideon hiding in a wine press, shaking in his boots threshing wheat. Who threshes wheat in a wine press…I’ll tell you who, chicken livers.. that’s who.

God found Jonah, a guy who basically flipped off God and ran the other way! Finally God found a fish with an obedient heart to swallow him and swim him back in the right direction. What kind of God picks such rank losers to use.

Jehovah God… that’s who. The God who sees what you CAN be and not what you are. The God who wants all the glory…not because He’s egotistical, but because He’s the only one worthy of it and can handle it!

Go ahead and judge your uselessness, judge the President, judge the pastor…but know, that God raises up the lowly and makes them great. he picks the unlikely, the one picked last at basketball, The dying thieves, the soldier with a sick servant, proud fishermen. He plucks us from obscurity and gives us His name…and together, we turn the world upside down…

Posted on

Last Words…

I have been reading about the last words of famous people. You know, the older I get the more I actually look forward to going home. I’m not trying to leave early though. I figure when it’s time, it’s time. There are many who have done things of note in their lifetimes and, their last words are both interesting and important.

I have read about famous last words of Presidents and Mafia bosses…(don’t confuse the two although there are some very close comparisons), and people of faith and those who were atheists. All of their last words are important. What we choose to say at the moment of our death may not be a summation of our lives, because some of us have surprise endings…i.e. accidents. But for those who were dying and knew it, some of them said some very profound things.

According to Steve Jobs’ sister Mona, the Apple founder’s last words were, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

Emily Dickinson, America’s most celebrated poet’s last words were, “I must go in, for the fog is rising.”

When I read those things I often try to imagine what they saw. There is no doubt that the veil between life and death is exceedingly thin…less than a breath in my estimation. I wonder in my heart if Steve saw something so incredibly beyond anything he could imagine that the computer genius was reduced to his child like wonder statement…”Wow.”

There are humorous ones. Charles Gussman was a writer and TV announcer who wrote the pilot episode of Days of Our Lives, among other shows. As he became ill, he said he wanted his last words to be memorable. When his daughter reminded him of this, he gently removed his oxygen mask and whispered: “And now for a final word from our sponsor—.”

When Groucho Marx was dying, he let out one last quip: “This is no way to live!”

Donald O’Connor was a singer, dancer, and actor. He also hosted the Academy Awards in 1954. O’Connor died at age 78 with his family gathered around him. He joked, “I’d like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get.” He still hasn’t gotten one.

I found that some of them were particularly poignant. Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Lotz says that his last words were for her 11-year-old granddaughter. Lotz’s family surrounded Graham during her final visit with him, and she said her 11-year-old granddaughter told him she loved him as the family was leaving. Graham answered back, “I love you.” Those were his last words.

Football coach Vince Lombardi died of cancer in 1970. As he died, Lombardi turned to his wife Marie and said, “Happy anniversary. I love you.”

O.O. McIntyre was an American reporter. He died at age 53, and spoke his last words to his wife Maybelle: “Snooks, will you please turn this way. I like to look at your face.”

When he was 57, Edward R. Murrow died while patting his wife’s hand. He said, “Well, Jan, we were lucky at that.”

John Wayne died at age 72 in L.A. He turned to his wife and said, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”Humphrey Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall had to leave the house to pick up their kids. Bogart said, “Goodbye, kid. Hurry back.” Not quite, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” but close.

While I am both healthy and happy at this moment, I can think of nothing quite so peaceful and wonderful to gaze upon; before I leave this earth, as the face of my wonderful wife Mary Ann. I hope it will be so, but God knows.

Now don’t start thinking I’ve been diagnosed with some kind of fatal disease. I have not. But what people say at the last few minutes of life can be a window into what is most important to them. Like John Adams, who lay dying on the 4th of July 1826:

“Thomas Jefferson–still survives”… John Adams, US President, died, July 4, 1826(Actually, Jefferson had died earlier that same day.)

“See in what peace a Christian can die”. Joseph Addison, writer, died, June 17, 1719

“Now comes the mystery’. Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, died, March 8, 1887

“It is very beautiful over there.” Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, died, October 18, 1931

I have lived my life in such a way, that as far back as I can remember, I’ve always looked forward to seeing the green valley that I believe God has promised me. As a child, I asked my mother what I would see when I died. It was a curious question for such a young child.

She sat at the edge of her 4-year-old child’s bed and stared at me. I remember she looked out the window in my bedroom and; at that moment, she heard the train passing through town over 4 miles away.

She looked back at me with soft tears in her eyes and smiled gently. “Doug, when you are ready to go to heaven, you will hear the gentle call of the heavenly train whistle and there will be a seat, with a quilt on it to keep you warm. I will be waiting on board saving your seat next to me.” I smiled and would ask her to repeat that story from time to time as I grew up.

As my mother grew older, after my father had passed away, we would talk often of heaven and I could tell my mother was so looking forward to “boarding the train for home”. In her last year of life, as she slowly approached the end, she would sleep often, and at least one night, as I sat by her bed in her little apartment, she would say, “Doug, I think the train is getting closer…” this time it was my turn to weep quietly. I held her hand until she drifted off to sleep.

In her final days, I was busy at the winery that my wife and I owned at the time, but I went to sit in her room at the Hospice. She had been asleep for 4 days straight, and they didn’t expect her to wake up. It was on this day, that I sat by her bed holding her hand and singing “I come to the Garden alone”…her favorite hymn.

As time passed, I stood and had to leave her. “Mom,” I said quietly, “I have to go to work, but I’ll be back tomorrow…I love you.” This was when; for the first time in 4 days she awoke fully and spoke to me with a full voice.“Doug, your Dad said, “Come Home”!” Standing in that room I was sure… just absolutely sure, I heard a train whistle from downtown. I choked on my response.

“Mom, you do what Dad wants you to do.” Her eyes smiled at me, and she went back to sleep. The next morning, February 14, 2014, just 9 days shy of her 90th birthday, my mother boarded the train alongside my dad…he had called her home on Valentine’s Day and had come to the station to meet her with a quilt on her seat to keep his sweetheart warm.

What I want is for you, my friend, to know in your heart of hearts that you have your ticket securely in your hand. I want you there…with me, in my green valley. It’s lovely there…the flowers make music and there are levels…oh so many levels in that place where you can visit.

I will be there waiting for you on the train to accompany you if you’d like. I’ll have a quilt sitting in your seat to put around your legs for the journey. We’ll sit and laugh and talk and watch the lovely scenery pass us by until we arrive at the station where everyone we know will be waiting for us.
There will be my wine…the perfected wine I finally have made from perfectly sugared grapes and my dogs will all be there to greet you…yours too! And there will be no strangers there…only friends, dear friends and family.

And whatever you held dear, and whatever memory that comforted you will be real and waiting for you.

I don’t know what my last words on this earth will be, but one thing is for sure…it will be a blessing, a prayer or thanksgiving for having had the privilege of being born on God’s earth. If I survive my wife, we will hold hands and I will sing to her, kiss her forehead and listen for her last words. If not, she will be there holding my hand and I will be looking into her eyes and the eyes of my children and grandchildren.

But until then, there is work to be done, and a kingdom to proclaim…and the train is quickly approaching the station.