Joy Chapter Four

joy-cover-1Chapter 4
She was still smiling when she opened the door of the bathroom though all Sam could see was a shadowy angel stepping out of the candle light which glowed softly through her night gown and created a halo effect around her shapely body. “Mother Mary,” were the only words that came to his mind and he didn’t even know why.

“No need to bring her into this, but that’s just what I was going to talk to you about,” Molly said softly.

“What?” He answered, not connecting the Lord’s mother with the slang he’d used.

“I was just thinking about how my body would change if or when I get pregnant.” She hoisted herself onto the bed with a knee and fell next to Sam, propping herself up on her left elbow. “You know, with my body type I would probably be big as a house.” … Read more

Joy Chapter Three

joy-cover-1Chapter 3

Her mind was a million miles away. It didn’t matter, he liked to watch her think, watch the little wrinkles form on the bridge of her nose and her eyes squint ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, as she worked a problem she didn’t think he could see. She was thinking about her life, about how she’d gotten to this, her fifth anniversary of marriage, and where she wanted to go from here. Sam could tell this baby thing was a much bigger deal for Molly than he had realized. She wanted this. He swallowed hard and tried to process the whole conversation. He took the dishes to the sink and unconsciously opened the refrigerator as if it might hold the answers to questions he had never seriously considered. He retrieved a cold bottle of water and returned to his wife who was now sitting with her elbows on the table, her face in her hands. He set the bottle on the table and rubbed her shoulders, gently moving his hands underneath her hair to feel her soft skin. She cooed softly as he worked his thumbs around her spine and his fingers on her shoulders and neck.

“You can stop that in about half an hour,” she whispered.

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Joy Chapter Two

joy-cover-1Chapter Two

Sam stood looking at the crystal clear sky, the glass was cold and he could feel the pressure of the wind through the panes, vibrating, trembling with the occasional gust. He stretched his arms toward the ceiling and arched his back. He found the tee-shirt that had been discarded a little after 9:30 and pulled it on then picked his jeans up from the floor and slung them over a chair, more or less picking up after himself. He flipped the light on in the hall and made his way to the kitchen in his boxers and bare feet.

Theirs was a smallish ranch-style two and two in a pretty good neighborhood in the only town he’d ever called home. And that was a good thing, for the most part. This is what he was thinking about as he walked down the hall. This and becoming a father. Perhaps it was time.

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Joy Chapter One

joy-cover-1Chapter One

Sam rolled to his back ungracefully — keeled over like a sea lion on a warm rock. Spent. His mouth open, eyes vacant. He wasn’t breathing, he’d forgotten how, he’d forgotten everything. Euphoric stupor. Eventually the soft touch of Molly’s hand to his forearm reactivated his consciousness, if only distantly. “You okay?” Sam could hear the smile in her voice. He finally exhaled and damped his dry lips with his tongue, tasting a hint of the Dr. Pepper Lip Gloss that Molly applied liberally at the end of her nightly bathroom ritual. She’d done the same thing since they’d been married, probably before that, probably since Junior High School. Some things never change, he was glad for that. He stretched his eyes open, focusing, and blinked a few times trying to engage his groggy brain. The room was moon lit and cool, a crisp Central California autumn was giving way to fall and they hadn’t yet turned on the furnace though it was a few days past time to do so. He regained most of his senses and sat up, gripping the sides of the bed as if on the ledge of a high-rise.

The glow from the alarm clock on his bedside table shown the reflection of the little foil packet of protection he had relied on throughout their marriage. Tonight it lay unopened. The clock read 10:23 p.m., early for a Friday. What was I thinking, he said to himself, shaking his head as he stood, stepping into the master bathroom to clean up and splash some water on his face.

Molly watched silently as her husband disappeared into the next room. The white door, bluish in the moon light, held her gaze as she breathed deeply, satisfied, running her hand quietly across the wrinkled sheets, unconsciously straightening them for his return. She was loved, and love was good.
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When is it Time to Leave?

IMG_0530When is it time to leave a ministry? What a great question. I think if there were a definitive answer for when to resign from a church in book form it would top the charts. Personally, I’m probably the least qualified pastor in the world to offer an answer, except for the fact that I’ve done it (left a ministry) multiple times – the fact is that I wonder if I ever did it the right way – if there even is a right way.

One problem is we all have a different perspective of the gifts and callings of God and the organization, calling and employment of the local church. Even though the Bible may be crystal clear, we all have our viewpoint, based on our upbringing, our biblical literacy, our personal maturity and remnants of our ‘flesh’ – the selfishness and pride that we contend with throughout our life with Christ. We all come at questions like this with a somewhat colored, or biased, perspective. So everyone will see the issue, unfortunately, through a slightly different lens, making it difficult to outline a definitive rule. Reading a book or personalizing someone else’s reality won’t work, we’re all too different and our situations are each unique.

This is not to say there is no answer to your dilemma, it’s just that it is not as clear-cut as we might hope. Let me offer a few ideas that might help you gain a wider view. … Read more

A Future and a Hope

2014-08-27 19.46.35For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29:10-14 (italics added)

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had laid siege on Jerusalem, conquering the city and requiring Judah to pay tribute (tax) to the King. Over the course of 70 disheartening years, much of Jerusalem was destroyed and many of the people were marched as captives to Babylon, a trip of 500-900 miles, depending on the route. It is to these exiled captives that God sends a personal message through the pen of Jeremiah.

Have you ever felt trapped either as a result of bad choices or through no particular fault of your own? Found yourself far from home with only fading dreams of how it used to be or how you had hoped it would all work out, but reality took a sharp turn in a direction you never planned? You cry out to God in desperation or maybe anger, but He seems silent. Distant. Some in the ranks of the children of Israel may have felt this way, driven from their homes, put out of their country, separated from friends. Psalm 137 suggests that when it says they just sat down by a river and cried as they thought about what they
had lost.

“By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion.” Psalm 137:1

They knew what it was like to be at the end of the rope. You may know the feeling, too. It’s not fun. A word of hope in the midst of that storm would feel pretty good. It would be nice to know that someone was thinking about you, that someone remembered you and loved you. Something like that might help you rise above your unseemly circumstances and keep walking, keep standing, keep pressing on.

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Life and Time

Papa and Mila

Life happens whether or not you are paying attention.

Life doesn’t wait until you are focused and ready and have a plan. Life is bound by time and time doesn’t stop for anyone. Well, it stopped for Elijah one strange, ancient day, when God made an exception to His own rule, but that doesn’t happen very often, that is, once in history as far as we know.

Time is relentless which is part of the reason why life is precious. Time and life are bound together and yet time isn’t life and life isn’t time.

Life exists within time, at least on the physical plain, so to truly live is to be present, watchful and aware. To experience each moment to the fullest and never hold back and never allow our lives to be dictated by distraction.

There comes a day for each person when time will cease but life will not, life will go on outside of the realm within which it began. This is eternal life and it is the gift of the eternal God to His beloved creation. Life with Him. Outside space and time. But it begins here with life as we know it. Life into which we are thrown (that is, born) kicking and screaming. Then, when we accomplish our days, this life will end and the next will begin, an outside-of-time, forever-life based in large part on the choices we made during our relatively brief experience in space and time.

For now we are stuck with the clock which keeps moving, rolling steady like the tide, marching in lockstep like a platoon, precisely, smoothly, constant no matter what the circumstances of life: sleep, peace, war, pain, longing, separation, joy, birth, dying – time is steadfast through it all.

Time is without emotion, it simply moves forward without consideration of whether or not we think it is moving too slowly, like enduring Freshman English, or too quickly, as when we are watching our children grow like weeds before our very eyes. Seconds become minutes, hours, days, months and before you realize it another year has passed and you’re in your fifties and wondering where the time went. … Read more