Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Rod McKuen

One of my all time favorite poets and singers turns 75 today! Rod McKuen. I first heard of Rod in 1973 and his live Carnegie Hall release. My favorite book of his is "Stanyan Street And Other Sorrows." He also did the score for "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." His rendition of Linda Ronstadt's "Long Long Time" is an all time favorite. There are those memories that stay with a person. Rod's poetry and music has always been a staple of mine. So, I hope Rod has a great birthday. Below, listen to a sample of "Stanyan Street." Happy Birthday to Rod.

Stanyan Street

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Stinky Cheeseman

We all remember them. The stories of childhood. The Gingerbread Man, Chicken Little, The Ugly Duckling and others. Today, though, I'm mentioning a book that is one of my favorites. Written by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, it's called, "The Stinky Cheeseman And Other Fairly Stupid Tales." It came out in 1992.

I guess my humor is a bit abstract. I like ideas that poke fun of the natural order of things. This book mentioned takes a very abstract view of some of the most popular stories. Instead of the Gingerbread man we have, The Stinky Cheeseman. He smells so bad that the old man and lady don't want to have anything to do with him. In another story, the Ugly Duckling, well, remains ugly. Plus, there's Jack's Bean Problem and many others.

Remember Gary Larson's "The Far Side?" I really like those books too. My humor has always been on the far side, so to speak. I find humor in some of the strangest places. For example, whenever I hear a lawyer say, "pass the witness", I see this witness being hurled through the air in the courtroom. Go figure. If you have a chance, pick this book up at the library. You can read it in one sitting. I guess that life's stresses can be much at times, and a little levity goes a long way. Below is a clip of Peter Strauss narrating part of this book. Have a good week!


The River's Edge

The waters cascade over the protruding rocks within the rippling waters. The river runs with constant velocity at a steady pace. I sit along the river bank taking it all in. The sun is ebbing its way through the western sky casting a shining glimmer of rays upon the water's surface. The wind eases its way through the trees as the leaves rustle. I'm at peace. Yes, I'm at peace.

It seems like I'm always at peace when I'm by the water's edge. It takes me back to a time when as a kid I would spend hours in the outdoors. We had a big forest of trees close to where I lived on the farm. I'd find myself taking the trek to the woods, listening to the sounds of nature. There was a small brook that made its winding way through those woods. Again, pure peace. The light of the summer sun would trickle its rays through those trees shining upon my face.

The other day as I sat by the river bank, I was overcome with thankfulness to my Lord. My prayer was simple yet profound. I was telling the Lord that the last few years of my life have been rather difficult. There were days I didn't think I'd survive some of the horrendous things I had been through. I then repented. I told my Lord that I know he was there all the time and wouldn't let me go. How sorry I was for those times of doubt and insecurity. He truly has been good to me. The old hymn "My Heavenly Father Watches Over Me" came to mind. The chorus goes:

I trust in God
I know he cares for me
On the mountain peak
Out on the stormy sea
Though the billows may roll
He keeps my soul
My heavenly father watches over me

Sometimes in my sardonic way, I can become a bit jaded and think that the Lord is out to lunch on my behalf. However, as I have written so many times before, he changes not! I may not always pray when I should, but he never gives up on me! Good times or bad, my heavenly father watches over me. I feel guilty at times when I seem to let him down and he never wavers on his love for me! I'm reminded though that I couldn't do it on my own. He picks me up even when I've let him down.

That day by the river was therapeutic. As the river made its course through the roadside park on its way south, the waves kept moving at the current pace, I was reminded that God always works in perfect precision. If the Lord can create this earth at the correct tilt of the axis for the seasons and far enough from the sun to create just the correct amount of temperature, how could I not trust him? Romans One is always a reminder of God's great creation. Plus, in the gospels, if he cares for the lillies of the field, the sparrows that fly, how much more does he care for me? May that day by the river always be a constant reminder of how much he loves us!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


"I've had it, I cannot take it anymore, I'm out of here!" I grab a travel bag and start piling a few clothes in it not caring whether they are folded or not. Not my average behavior. I have to run away. I don't want to endure this pain anymore. "Okay, where do I go? I'll fill up the car and let it take me as far as I can go until the funds run dry. Somewhere, other than here, has to be better than what I am going through. Enough is enough."

"God, why must this go on? Are you even there anymore?" The thoughts are like a rainstorm that refuses to subside. Torrents of water flood over me until I can barely stand it! Sure, I can travel the miles. I've traveled many in my life. I've been to so many places. I've found there's one place you can't run from...and that is yourself. Okay, relax. Settle down. Pray. Sure, pray. "Oh God, help me, I'm drowning here. My pain is too great. I can't take another moment. If I am to make it, you will have to be my strength in my weakness." So, I drop the bag to the floor and collapse to the bed and pray. And pray some more.

Somehow, a deep peace washes over me. "I'll never leave you nor forsake you" he says in his Word. So, I'll STAY! I'll weather the storms of life with my Lord being at the helm. Sometimes it's easier to run away, harder to stay, but well worth it! Frankly, staying in God's presence is much better. Not always a cakewalk, but much more comforting. Peace, wonderful peace.

Below are some of the lyrics from Chris Lee's song, "Stay." His song mirrors how I feel at times. Chris is a great and upcoming artist. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he was running sound for Michael English in concerts. I found a man that is sincere in his love for Christ and just an all around great guy! As I was leaving that night he smiled at me and said, "Stay real man!" And he's a believer who is doing just that. I wish him well in his endeavors. He has a great voice but more importantly, a heart for God! Be well all.

Chris Lee

If you want to feel all alone, walk away
Try to find a home of your own, walk away
Now I’m not keeping score
But I’ve seen it so many times before
Puts your bags down
This time around…

Stay with me I have all you need
You’ve tried everything, oh everything
Now just stay
All you’re searching for can be found
And so much more
No more running away…
Stay…Just stay

"Stay" Edit

Friday, April 11, 2008

Not Wavering

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:17-19)

It's been thirty-five years since I made my decision to follow my Lord. I can truly say that I've never been sorry for that day I knelt, repented and accepted God's glorious invitation to invite Christ into my life! For any of you that have followed my blog for any length of time, you'll notice a recurring theme: The Cross of Christ and the love of God in Christ! I've never wavered from that premise and truth that has been etched into the memory of my life.

I will admit that I have wavered in some other areas. I've always been thirsty for knowledge and truth. In my very early years of the faith I ventured out to learn everything I could about the Lord and his Word. I would like to say that all my searching was unequivocal, but alas, it hasn't been. In my search for truth it led me into some various factions at times. I've wrestled with free will and God's sovereignty, pondered second works of grace, the sign gifts, eternal security, rapture or no rapture and a myriad of other things. I've been in Pentecostal, Nazarene and Baptist churches, looking and searching. And I even fell prey to the positive confession movement for awhile. (It was anything but positive.)

You'd probably wonder or maybe envision that I was a confused believer. No, not at all. I always wanted to keep my thoughts and mind open. I didn't want to be a slave to a man-made denomination. The caveat is clear though: I did embrace some things that I've later recanted. Plus, there were times I treated God's Word like a text book. But the last decade has been a true experience. My school days of textual outlook became one of practical application. I started living out in my daily life the things that had beforehand, been just textbook learning. But, don't misunderstand, proper doctrine is first and foremost. I've always been a true believer, but I had to experience in real life the scriptures I believed. It's a perilous thing to trust feelings. All proper living for Christ must be first grounded in pure doctrine. Sure, I like to feel good. But, the scriptures correctly applied must take preeminence. Feelings are great, but they should always be based on a true understanding of God's eternal Word.

I do know that I have never wavered on the aforementioned Cross of Christ. I have dug my heels in the sand, my face is like flint when it comes to what Christ did on the cross. My mind is made up when it comes to the love of God in Jesus Christ. With all the schisms that abound today, our hope must always be rooted and grounded in the true Word of God. I'm glad I never wavered on the essentials. Things like God's inspired Word, the second coming, the virgin birth of Christ, Jesus being the only way, et.al. The bottom line is clear. As believers we may disagree on what I call the secondary things like the mode of baptism, etc. But, I will never waver with Jesus being the only way to heaven. I'll love and pray for those who don't for their eternal souls are at stake.

Wes King and me

The above verses from Ephesians really hit home for me. Years ago I was able to spend some time with recording artist Wes King. His song, "The Love Of Christ" is simply amazing. It's difficult for me to keep a dry eye when I listen to his song that comes right out of Ephesians. I want to leave you with a sample of this amazing song that sums up what I think about the gospel. I'm glad I never wavered on what Christ did for me on the cross. For anything that has come out of my life, I owe to the Lord Jesus Christ. May the peace of Christ be with you all.

The Love Of Christ

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I made my trek down the very long lane from the house to the mailbox that set beside the road. I looked at the black metallic box that was fastened to the wooden pole. At times I felt that the mailbox was more like "Pandora's box" than an actual mailbox. That was even before I knew anything about the Greek myth. I'm all of twelve years old. I make my way to the box and put my hand on the lid. Like Pandora's box, I didn't know what surprises would be in store that day. I could open it and find out. Would there just be the same old utility bills and flyers from the local stores in the mail today? Or, maybe, would my treasure await me?

I had gone to that box every day for the week just hoping. As I took in my breath, and released a sigh, I hoped. As I slowly opened the box, there it was! That brown corrugated box that held my treasure. The treasure of a book and model kit on the Apollo Space Mission! I couldn't believe it. It was here. I scrambled to grab the box out as quickly as possible. I started yelling, "It's here, it's here, it's finally here!" I think I went into some kind of dance at that moment. I mean, I was yelling loudly. It was a good thing I was in the country. I wonder what the neighbors across the road thought if they were watching?! I had been waiting for this model kit and book for weeks. Now, joy of all joys, it was there. I had many hours of fun going through the pictures of the Apollo mission and putting together the lunar and command modules. Oh the excitement of a twelve year old. I wonder where those days have gone?

Now, being many years down the road, I think of other things. I was pondering last night about the Lord coming to this earth the first time. I can hear the song, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her king! Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing!" There are times that I have to stop in the midst of things and "really" think about the Lord's coming. He didn't have to come. He could have let mankind die in their sins. But, he loved us so much that he didn't stay in heaven. He came here to redeem mankind!

So, even though I was a twelve-year old kid excited about a book and model kit and the sheer rapture of it all, how much more should I now, be excited that the Lord came to this earth for me. Time for me to do my little dance again! And greater still, will be the day when he comes back the second time and parts the eastern sky and we go to be with him. Let me tell you, it'll be greater than any earthly trinket our hearts could desire. "Our Lord is coming back to earth again, satan will be bound a thousand years, we'll have no tempter then, when Jesus comes back to earth again."

Think of all the wonderful moments of your life. Combine them all together. Quite a thought, isn't it? Then, think of the Lord coming back for us. All of our greatest moments on this earth will pale in comparison to that glorious day of his arrival. How could we not love him so? The one who died for us? The king of kings and Lord of Lords. That will be the best arrival of all!

Monday, April 7, 2008

He Doesn't Change

There I am. I cannot focus. Why does it have to be this way? So many things I'm pondering. I need to pray. But, I cannot even force the words. Why the paradox? So many things on my heart and too lethargic to pray them! Then, there are days when I can't shut up. I can pray for a long time voicing my praise, prayer and supplication to the Lord.

God knows that already. Unlike me, he is unchangeable. And...I'm sure glad he is! When I'm down and fickle or if I'm on the proverbial mountaintop, he changes not! His love endures for all time. There are days when some of my prayers amount to just a plea of help, "Oh Lord, I need you!" Other days I can't voice the words fast enough to tell the Lord how much he means to me.

I'm still musing over the book by John MacArthur, "The Tale Of Two Sons." I just cannot get over the fact that the father "ran" to his son! This has always been my favorite story in the Word. I'm not the only one. I know many are touched by this story and see themselves in it!

So, while I sit here tonight, I think of my unchanging Lord. Thank you Lord for those times when I couldn't even sit with you an hour while you prayed but you'd still go to the cross for me! What marvelous love he has bestowed upon us. Oh to comprehend the width and length and depth and height of the love of Christ! (Eph 3:18) Thank you Lord for being so good to us.