Thursday, September 29, 2011

THE SHELTER OF A CHURCH


Prairie Church, Strong City, KS

It may or may not surprise folks that I do not come to church to seek God—mainly because I believe His promises are rock solid and He has already told me through His word made flesh in Jesus that He is with me at all times of my life, not just Sunday mornings for instance. And surely the presence of the Lord is in this place. But it’s easy to ignore Him when times are good and we’re young and in good health and we’re languishing in the proverbial and calm “eye of the hurricane”. I come into church to share and seek the support of others that are interested in focusing their Sunday mornings and other times in genuinely growing their understanding of God and His will for my life and using that knowledge to weather the storms of life that inevitably pass over all of us at differing times of our lives. I don’t come to “drink the Kool-Aid” that skeptics would have you believe, but to “drink in the water of life” that Jesus discussed during His encounter with the woman at the well. And when my spirit inevitably departs this broken temporary world, I’ll be united with my Creator and all those loved ones who have gone before in a beautiful forever.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

EMPTY CHAIRS AT EMPTY TABLES




Phantom Friend, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Phantom Reflections, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Summer is Gone, Wrightsville Beach, NC


Phantom faces at the window.
Phantom shadows on the floor.
Empty chairs at empty tables,
Where my friends will meet no more.

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables,
Now that summer is dead and gone.
--Les Miserables (sort of almost)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

STREET WALKING





At The Met, New York, NY
Sidewalk Concert, New York, NY
St. Pat's on 5th Ave., New York, NY
Central Park Artist, New York, NY


Many of the business trips in my former life as an actively employed road warrior involved destinations to major cities. And most of those destinations were limited to an airport, hotel room and conference room. Consequently, I never really got the opportunity to know the city. What I did learn on other trips and vacations was that to really know a city, you’ve got to walk the sidewalks and streets. You need to mingle with the local populace, enter the indigenous shops and look around, dine at the locally owned restaurants and sample the foods known to the region, and visit the historical and noteworthy landmarks that come to define the area. Once you spend the time to breathe the air, share a meal, experience a work of art or natural wonder and walk the streets together you begin to gain an intuitive understanding of these people and this corner of the world we all share as one human family.

Monday, September 12, 2011

FAITH


Seeing, believing, Jamestown, NC

“Faith is to believe what you do not see;
the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
--St. Augustine

Sunday, September 11, 2011

GOLF IN THE KINGDOM


Donald Ross Kingdom, Ashville, NC

A golf course is composed of numerous green spaces surrounded by sand and water and pine trees connected by small asphalt trails which we seldom use due to their close proximity to the short cut grasses in what's called fairways of life where we seldom play anyway culminating in a grill room where we democratically redistribute socks full of dimes at the end of the Pete Dye Utopian quest journey and grasp the holy grail of beers and chili dogs and beers to commemorate the sacrifice of triple layered orbs carried back from the Crusades by the Knights Pinehurst and originally sacrificed by the Ancient Order of Druids at Stonehenge and which we somberly dispatch with implements ill constructed for the purpose to the water and forest gods that rule the area primarily inhabited by unseen tree monkeys that will occasionally grant us favor and toss the bright white and yellow orbs back into the short grasses of the golfing kingdom for additional beatings and grief.

Friday, September 9, 2011

INTERCESSORY PRAYER


Blessing, Central Kansas

Ever paused to consider that a special blessing you received
may not have been of your own making,
but from the prayers of another?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

LIGHT OF THE WORLD


Light of the World, Jamestown, NC

For with you is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
--Psalm 36:9

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."
--John 8:12

And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
--Matthew 17:2

Thursday, September 1, 2011

HEAVENLY CLOUDS


Whimsical Flying Elephant, Greensboro, NC

Just what is it anyway that causes us humans to look skyward when we think of the heavenly realm? Well, it seems if we’re looking for something “other worldly” we have to look up away from the earth instead of under the surface or on the surface. It’s the only physical place to seek the new kingdom. But of course, a spiritual existence doesn’t necessarily have to reside in any physical space. And even the sky doesn’t offer much of an alternative when it’s one of those “blue bird” days of eternal sunshine and clear blue sky above. But on those days when humid air is approaching its dew point and clouds are condensing into the atmosphere, we can really stretch our imagination as these sculptures of the skies work their magic overhead and organically morph into magnificent, pure white, colossal, vapor spirits beyond our reach. Some days it’s even fun to imagine whimsical forms like we did as young children.

Just what is it anyway that causes us humans to look skyward when we think of the heavenly realm? Well, it seems if we’re looking for something “other worldly” we have to look up away from the earth instead of under the surface or on the surface. It’s the only physical place to seek the new kingdom. But of course, a spiritual existence doesn’t necessarily have to reside in any physical space. And even the sky doesn’t offer much of an alternative when it’s one of those “blue bird” days of eternal sunshine and clear blue sky above. But on those days when humid air is approaching its dew point and clouds are condensing into the atmosphere, we can really stretch our imagination as these sculptures of the skies work their magic overhead and organically morph into magnificent, pure white, colossal, vapor spirits beyond our reach. Some days it’s even fun to imagine whimsical forms like we did as young children. For it was Jesus himself who rebuked his disciples to become more childlike or humble, sincere, and less biased if they were to understand and enter His kingdom.

TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF 911


Stairwell Escape, NYC, NY

A member of our church in Jamestown was in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11, ten years ago. I talked to him later and his story was transfixing. He was in a meeting on the 60th floor when the first plane hit the North Tower. A stranger came by and told them they needed to move around the building to see the surreal scene unfolding there. Then he and others began walking down the stairs to exit the tower. Security came on the intercom system and assured them that the incident was confined to the North Tower and their tower was secure. So, they began walking back up to their meeting. Just as they were approaching their floor the second plane hit their building above them. As soon as they felt the impact and saw all the debris flying outside the windows, they once again started back down the stairs. Soon they met firefighters walking up the stairs into harm's way and he later mused that they all were soon quite probably killed when the buildings collapsed. He had looked some directly into their eyes and was incredulous to think that they were going the other way. Those memories are still chilling for him. When they reached the ground floor they were directed across a common plaza to the street. It was then that another image was seared into his psyche as he realized the source of the red spots they had viewed from the 60th floor after the first hit. Soon after he began a staggering walk in the street away from the buildings, he heard the collapse of the buildings beginning and turned back to see a wall cloud of dust rolling down on him between the buildings. He ducked into a deli and they slammed the door shut as the dust cloud forced its way into every crevice in the room. When that had cleared enough to walk back into the street he made his way to his hotel and was able to leave NYC on one of the last flights out before all flights were grounded.

Tad is speaking at all three services at our Jamestown church on Sunday, September 11. I saw him at a breakfast this morning and asked him what his message would be on this tenth anniversary. It was good to see he has still retained a small sense of humor. He replied, "Duck!"