Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Tennessee Thanksgiving...

In everything give thanks. ~ The apostle Paul

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. ~ G. K. Chesterton
Sandy and I are in Knoxville, Tennessee with our son Josh; he is in an MFA program at the University of Tennessee. His girlfriend, Sammy is here too! Later today, the four of us will gather with about fifteen other graduate students from the same University and cook up a humongous Thanksgiving dinner! There will be an outside fire pit, and the possibility of some light snow falling. Tell me that doesn't sound like fun!

From a grateful heart, I send up a prayer of Thanksgiving for our many friends around the world, our family in Maine and Florida, our other kids, Meg and Justin, and to our beautiful daughter in law, Erika. Last, but by no means the least, our grandson, THE AMAZING WYATT!




Monday, November 24, 2014

Rick and Liz

When our son Josh was six he became friends with Ricky. They attended school together all the way together through high school. We have a lot of history. Ricky, along with a group of classmates, used to spend many a weekend at our house. The guys used to build debris huts and camp out in the woods behind our place. As they got older and got driver licenses they used to travel up to Maine from Massachusetts to our cabin. There, in that beautiful place, they would fish and swim in the Penobscot River, sit around an open fire under a billion stars, and often journey a little further north to climb and hike to the one mile summit of Mt. Katahdin. I was also most of those guys pastor.

Months ago, Rick asked if I would officiate his marriage to Liz that would take place in Massachusetts. In the months leading up to the big day I talked with them on Skype about their soon to be joint adventure as husband and wife and plans were confirmed. I live in Georgia. This past weekend, Rick and his bride to be flew me to the venue there in the northeast. Josh was there too, along with many of those same boys, now grown men. Some of the girls they grew up with were there too.

It was a beautiful ceremony and not lacking in nostalgia. It was a time of reconnecting with a group of people I spent twelve years with and was filled with laughter and old stories…some stories we had all hoped nobody remembered!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Unquestionable

For want of a nail a shoe was lost. For want of a shoe a horse was lost. For want of a horse a rider was lost. For want of a rider a battle was lost. For want of a battle a kingdom was lost. All for the want of a nail. ~ A lyric used to teach the possible outcome of neglect

How then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? ~ The unquestionable outcome of neglect (Romans 10:14-15) 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Little Corner of Eden...

God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order. 
~ Genesis 2:15

I followed parallel tire tracks that hugged the tree line that formed the border of hundreds of acres of hay fields. Earlier this summer, an hellacious windstorm -- topping out at around sixty miles per hour -- and sideways rain blew down a cluster of four large oak and sweet gum trees. For decades, their roots had burrowed down into the soil, allowing them to stand tall and reach for the heavens, but the tempest overwhelmed them. What remained was a disc-shaped wall of soil and rocks twenty-five feet in circumference and perpendicular to the ground.

From its low of thirty degrees, the temperature edged upwards, and as the sun crept higher toward a cloudless sky it revealed a sparkling silver blanket of frost. By eight a.m. I had filled my saw with mixed gas and bar oil from the tailgate of my pick-up that served as a workbench. Protected by leather work gloves stained by red Georgia dirt and darkened by streaks of oil, my hands turned the flathead screwdriver adjusting the tension of the chain. "Tinkering with my saw and preparing to clear out the tangle of limbs gives me a sense of accomplishment. I wonder why I feel so much satisfaction doing something so simple?" I remember thinking.

Soon, the larger stuff was cut into stove length, and the whining of the saw ceased. I loaded the freshly cut wood into the truck bed; their ends formed a neat tier of blonde circles. Added to the sense of accomplishment came a sense of well-being.

Nature's destruction had made the forest floor invisible and rendered the trail for the four wheelers impassible. Now, it was back in order. Accomplishment? Satisfaction? I had done what God had created me to do: I had subdued my corner of Eden...




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans

To our Veterans: over the decades, wells of ink have been wicked dry, and oceans of tears have been shed to express our appreciation for your sacrifice. Those of us who have never left family and home to protect our families and homes will never fully comprehend or appreciate the depth of your commitment.

Please accept our feeble expressions of gratitude. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Unbelievable!

On Sunday nights, along with a couple of our friends, we meet with some young married couples. It's an informal gathering. We are about 25 years older than the young marrieds, and we have made ourselves available to talk with them about life. These couples are newly married, or just starting a family, and are in a season of life that we have already passed through. Our contribution is to talk to them out of our experiences and to be a spiritual and practical resource at this season in their lives. Don't for a minute think that we see all the benefit going in one direction -- from us to them. That's not the case at all. They are transparent, thoughtful, and engaging. Their questions and perspective challenge ours and keep us relevant in communicating the faith once delivered.

Tonight we had something extremely unusual happen. Our fire pit is right next to the 2-3 acre pond in our back yard. As we sat around the crackling fire conversing, all of a sudden we heard a loud splash. One of the couples asked if we had alligators. I said, "No." Me, I thought it may have been a tree fall into the pond. Someone else wondered if a beaver had leaped from the bank into the lake, or a really large fish jumped. All of us arose from our chairs and the mesmerizing fire and stared out across the dark surface of the pond. We could see nothing. Sandy went into the house and got our powerful flashlight with the pistol grip handle. Standing on the bank, she swept the beam across the water toward the area of the commotion. Believe it or not, the white lane of light revealed a deer swimming in the lake. As she swept the light right and toward the south, we immediately saw why the deer had plunged into the lake. Several sets of eyes belonging to a pack of coyotes glowed. They had chased the frantic deer into the pond. Legal or not, I retrieved a couple of my handguns and fired in their general direction. They scattered. After a few minutes, the frightened deer climbed out of the pond and bedded down under a large pine tree amid a stand of high brush.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Disappearing...

The night sky reveals nothing of the clouds except their light feathery edges. Above me, the moon is a giant, glowing, silvery disc hovering over The Shire. Slowly I stalked across the lawn. My bare feet soon became numb as the cold dew upon the grass chilled them. Beyond the white board fence, the beam of my flashlight illuminated the glowing green eyes of a deer that was making its way to the kernels of corn I scattered behind the barn. Like a ghost, it silently moved into the fringes of the woods, disappeared, and awaited my retreat.


Delays, Detours, and Distance

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for… All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and stranger on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country -- a heavenly one. There God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. ~ Hebrews 13: 1, 13-16

Can we persevere in spite of delays, detours, and distance?

Ancient believers were commended for that very thing. Along their sojourns delays, detours, and distance seemed to thwart the possession of things God promised, but when their hearts stopped, and their very last breath gasped through pale lips, their faith was still alive and well. Their outward man perished while clinging to the belief that they would receive all God had promised.

Surrounded by a world that validated only what the physical senses could confirm, the ancients were different. How so? Physical evidence was subjugated to a greater proof -- faith. Their contemporaries looked down upon them with pity and disdain, but those ancients looked upward with unshakable confidence and hope. Un-blinded faith revealed a universe that faith-blinded eyes could not see.

Nothing has changed. Faith that pleases God must live with the exhilaration and tension that the complete fulfillment of all God guaranteed -- for the meantime -- is subject to delays, detours, and distance. Here, in this unsure and uncertain world we, like the ancients, are strangers. But we keep our gaze fixed forward in faith, and constantly move forward toward a better place. Delays, detours, and distance only serve to remind us that we ache for a world just beyond our grasp. But faith keeps us reaching.

And like the ancients we keep the faith. And though we wrestle with the delays, detours, and distance, God is not ashamed to be called our God... 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Deactivating

At the risk of sounding obnoxiously pious, in order to be more disciplined with my time and energies and the kind of food I feed my mind and soul, I am going to deactivate my FaceBook page for an unspecified time.

I am going to continue to blog (more hopefully) and forward to my Twitter acct.