Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Step into the Garden

Stay in this city until you have been clothed with power.

Most of us want to be respected. So much so that we are not above voicing the cliché, “I don’t care if they like (love) me, I just want them to respect me.” People who believe this, who say this, are almost always in some authoritarian position. Speaking of those who report to him, the boss says, “They don’t have to love me, but you better believe they are going to respect me.” Yeah!


Regrettably, this is human power, its coerciveness driven by sanction. The policeman with the badge, with the gun, with the bullets, with the threat to incarcerate; the boss with the authority to terminate your services – whoever, with the power to punish. This is the power to control, manipulate and coerce. Because of the human predilection for darkness, it is sometimes appropriate. Still, owing to this same predilection, it is all too easy for it to become the power of arrogance, and power for the sake of power.

Is this what Jesus meant? I don’t think so. For centuries, students of the Bible interpret these words of Jesus as meaning the power of the Holy Spirit. Through these same centuries, Religion has interpreted this as the power to convert; the power to heal; the power to coerce repentence; the power to excommunicate. The sanction of organized religion -- excommunication -- is a sanction of fantasy. No man on earth has the power to keep another from eternal life, or eternal death.

But since God is Love, and since the Spirit is God; does it not follow that these two Persons being equal to each other; the power of which Jesus speaks, is the power of Love?

Is there a greater power?

Of all the garments hanging in my spiritual closet, the one with which I most seek to clothe myself, is the power of Love. Love is the most coercive energy in human experience, far more powerful than the authority of sanction, and far deeper than mere respect.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011


Step into the Garden

He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

Honoring Jesus isn’t so much a matter of good behavior as it is a matter of the heart. It can be said that good behavior reflects the content of the heart, for as Jesus himself said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” But words of the mouth, what our hands find to do, or what we set before our eyes, is not what demands our attention here. Every single human being on earth, and all that have come before us, and all who will come after, have said things, done things, sought things that dishonor the Son.

What is found in our hearts is the focus point of God. He alone among all that have life can see into our hearts. Indeed, he is life itself.

A popular saying is, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Yet Jesus has made it abundantly clear that it is the intent of the heart that interests God. It is the intent of the heart that God evaluates.

There is an interesting word that I picked up somewhere along the path I have walked. It is the word, “proclivity.”

pro•cliv•i•ty   [proh-kliv-i-tee]

-- noun, natural or habitual inclination or tendency; propensity; predisposition

My question then, is, ‘What then, is the proclivity of my heart?’

Like all others, I fail to honor the Son in my life and behavior. These failures are habitual and while I can’t seem to turn it around, I can also tell you this: There is nothing so natural, so elemental, so sincere, so deep within me as the desire to honor the Lord. This, too, is a proclivity. And this desire, this intent of the heart is seen by God, and despite the considerable hiccups in my life, brings honor to the Son.

Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Examine me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Sometimes, it seems, the intentions of our hearts, what we want and desire, are better than a Hallelujah!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


It has been fun, but exhausting.

My last post occurred on July 20, 2011 and it is now August 17. After a period of weekly postings, maybe some of you may have wondered why the lapse? What happened . . . and why am I so tired?

We moved. As in moving all of our belongings, furniture, stuff, dishes, memories, writings, pictures, library and more stuff -- from northern California to our newly purchased home in Marietta, Georgia. Over 2,700 miles!

Let me give you a short, but detailed account: It began with a flight from Atlanta Hartsfield, to Sacramento. Me and Violet, my seven month old puppy. She rode beneath the seat in front of me and didn’t like it very much; softly whining and sleeping when she wasn’t whining.

Bonnie had been visiting our grandchildren in San Diego, and met me in Sacramento where we rented a car and drove to Santa Rosa. Spent the night with our nephew and next morning, rented the biggest truck we could find. Mark (nephew) and friend packed the truck. Next day Violet and I climbed into the cab, kicked the diesel into life, and pointed our big yellow dragon’s nose toward Marietta, via Reno, et. al.

After a night in a Utah motel, I pulled into a service station. A worn Chevy pick-up pulled up close. Big man with a red nose rolled down his window and shouted, “Boy, (I’m 74 years old) you better take a look at your muffler. Hit’s about to fall off!” I bent down and looked and sure enough, the tailpipe hung about five inches above the ground.

Called the truck rental company who sent out a mechanic who fixed it. Just like that. Clean, efficient, no problemo! I drove off with the muffler secure -- with coat-hangar wire!

As I approached the on-ramp to I-80 in Somewhereville, UT, my cellphone rang. I proceeded up the on-ramp. “PULL OVER!” the voice on the phone cried. “YOU’RE LOSING OIL!!!” I pulled over a few feet shy of where the on-ramp meets the highway. I checked the mirror for oncoming traffic, opened the door, tried to calm Violet who was whining again, and got out of the truck. What I saw made me feel . . . well, I guess a mule-kick right square in the stomach might describe it. There was a puddle of oil the size of the Pacific on the ground beneath the engine, increasing in size every second as the engine idled. I quickly reached for the ignition, and shut it off. At that moment the mechanic pulled up behind me.

The oil filter had ruptured. Ever heard of an oil filter rupturing? I have lived 74 years on this planet, driven dozens of cars and trucks, and this was an all-time first. Five hours of sitting on the side of the road with my dog in not too unpleasant surroundings, and I was on my way again. This could have happened somewhere in the desert, with triple digit heat. I was grateful.

Arrived in Marietta six days later with no additional mule-kicks, hired two Mexican businessmen who did a superb job of unpacking the truck, and now here I am, still amongst the few remaining unpacked boxes, walls with unfinished painting, and almost completely remodeled kitchen, and tired. Yes tired.

I guess I’ve driven across this country in cars and trucks more than a dozen times in my lifetime. Maybe two dozen. Who’s counting?

But this time was different. I was kept company by a beautiful little Maltese named Violet, who licked my cheek as I drove, who barked at passersby while I was fueling the truck, who slept with me every night, and who played happily in the grass every time we visited a rest stop.

And we were both kept company by the presence of Someone else.

Yes I’m tired. Indeed. But we now have our own home. After three and a half years of storing our stuff, opening boxes has been like Christmas. Twenty-eight years of priceless memories. My wife is joyously happy. Violet has rejoined her sister and mom, and now we are only a few days away from having all the pictures hung.

Am I blessed, or what?!

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