Wednesday, November 27, 2013


tradition |trəˈdiSHən|
1 the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way an age-old tradition: custom, practice, convention, ritual, observance, way, usage, habit, institution; formal praxis.

My sister Jo and I had lunch at the local Cracker Barrel where Christmas 2013 is in full swing. Thanksgiving is late this yeargotta get on with it. Even so, there is nothing I don’t love about that place. I’ve often remarked I could live there. They could put a cot for me in the back room. I could eat three great meals a day. In exchange I could stay on exhibition like a fossil encased in stone among the relics and memorabilia of the vaguely familiar traditions long retired. 

Moseying around, all my senses fully engaged in the sparkling new as well as the worn-out rusty old on display,  I thought about this dynamic and how, because of nothing more than age, I have witnessed the cycle of life through several generations, family traditions created, then adjusted to accommodate the ever changing circumstances, starting with my own childhood core family, through the growing up of my children and now my grandchildren. It seems, in the middle of a growing family stage and the traditions we enjoy, we are given to believe they will continue forever. We never consider otherwise. And then, one day, life does what it does and the old is set aside to make way for the new. 

The word ‘tradition’ brings to mind unchanging, standard, something forever expectable and memorable. In truth, over time, it’s a challenge to maintain our little rituals and customs because time inevitably rearranges things. Families mature, expand and shrink; life, above all, is a living thing. Kids, the primary reason for establishing traditions, grow up and out and evolve into the inescapable–the establishment of their own traditions. 

It’s called the circle of life. And it’s okay.

This process is nothing if not traditional. But in this age, when new and improved is constantly seeking to displace what is old, ergo that which is deemed traditional, old has suddenly become outdated before it has fully finished it’s usefulness. New for the sake of being the latest greatest thing is very often not even a close second to what it replaces in terms of function. More often than not, the update/upgrade/innovation doesn’t even work as well–if at all. But it doesn’t matter because next week it will be revised anyway. 

Regardless my decades of experience seeing things come and go, traditions formed and reformed, and this can be extended to include morals, ideals, religions, philosophies, inventions and customs morphing from one thing into another, I have never seen such manic acceleration as there is now. There’s a saying that life speeds up as you age but I recognize something else happening, dark and potentially destructive, which does not bode well. I’m seeing something symptomatic of a more troubling force in play. When there is no longer enough time allotted to develop a tradition because the next new thing is already in queue to render all before it obsolete, the inevitable happens. When fundamental, foundational, age-proven conventions are relegated to the archives and replaced with short-term, short-sighted praxis, civilization rapidly declines into the abyss of self-destruction. 

Clearly, there is no time for tradition nowadays. Life has become one giant frenzied expectation for the next concept/thing that must replace the one before it. Of course, most of this is in large part attributable to the beast of commerce and its ever insatiable hunger that devours us in great greedy gulps as we pretend we are better for it and that we even like it. 

I don’t know about you, but I prefer slow and easy, everything allowed its time to be, time to mellow, come to fruition and shape impressions that become strong guidelines for constructive, productive living. Yes, I’m an old fogey and I could easily fit into the decor of Cracker Barrel, along with the remnants of the traditions of our American past. But I’d rather be a relic that still works, (even without a battery) though. I just would. Stable, reliable, nurturing, up-building, antithesis to decimating, these attributes describe the function of long-established tradition.

Isn’t something old that still works better than something all shiny new that doesn’t? 

For Christ,

(Daniel 12:3) And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.  (12:4) But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

a million little ways

This is one of those posts I’m going to have to work my way through to find out how to say what I really want to say without penning a book length discourse or baring too much of my inner soul. 

Once in awhile, God reveals Himself to us in a totally unexpected way but always in perfect timing. I’m skipping past the how to the what here when I tell you I read a book that should be required reading for anyone who has lost hope of ever finding his/her joyful art. I’m not talking about what most people call art - painting, drawing, photography, although those fall into ‘art’ category. I’m referring to the art that everyone is born to live. As the author, Emily P. Freeman, explains:

“You were born to make art. You were made to live art. You might not see yourself as an artist, but you are–in so many unexpected ways. In what you create, whether poetry or pie, sculpture or sand castle, calligraphy or conversation. It’s time to uncover the shape of your soul, turn down the voice of the inner critic, and move into the world with the courage to be who you most deeply are.
Creating a life of meaning is not about finding that one great thing you were made to do, it’s about knowing the one great God you were made to glorify–in a million little ways.”

As old as I am, even as most of my creativity years are well behind me, I am still able to find ways to make my art (so long as I don’t have to lift anything heavy or climb ladders) so this book was as relevant to me, at this late hour, as it would have been 30 to 40 years ago. No matter how old we are, we all crave validation and it is within our own individual art that we fulfill our purpose and therefore experience our joy.

What sets this book apart from the plethora of self-help books lining the shelves of bookstores, is, first, the author’s exquisite writing, both poetically soft and killing sharp at the same time; in the fewest words she ably comforts and consoles and then wields an edge that slices deep.

“We cannot wait until we feel courageous to make art even as we wait for the courage to come.
Courage bleeds neediness.
Courage sees hope in dark places.
Courage leans heavy on Jesus and moves in the middle of fear.”

Secondly, more than her talent to craft images with words as skillfully as a master artist uses paint on canvas, she validates the Christian’s point of view by adroitly incorporating and crediting Christ as the whole reason we need to uncover our art. It is a complete circle. The Great Creator makes us in His image and then imbues us with talents that we derive joy from as we serve Him with our gifts. 

Freeman’s pure, joyful relationship with God, without the tangled clutter of the do’s and don’t of modern dogma, is an additional plus and, if nothing else, reason enough to read this book. It’s about as accessible, clear and clean a glimpse into real Christianity as you’ll find in a book labeled “Christian”.

I could go on but time is wasting. Get this book.   
a million little ways by emily p. freeman

For Him,


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Try Again

I tried to embed a Godtube video yesterday but it didn't work. I really want to share this very special rendition of I Need Thee Every Hour by a young man who obviously put in a lot of effort to create it. So, I am trying again and if the embedded video doesn't show up, you can still access it HERE.

For Christ,

An Acapella Hymn 'I Need Thee Every Hour' Like You've Never Heard It Before from djbeats on GodTube.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


(Acts 27:14-22) But after no long time there beat down from it a tempestuous wind, which is called Euraquilo:  (15) and when the ship was caught, and could not face the wind, we gave way [to it,] and were driven.  (16) And running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were able, with difficulty, to secure the boat:  (17) and when they had hoisted it up, they used helps, under-girding the ship; and, fearing lest they should be cast upon the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and so were driven.  (18) And as we labored exceedingly with the storm, the next day they began to throw the [the freight] overboard;  (19) and the third day they cast out with their own hands the tackling of the ship.  (20) And when neither sun nor stars shone upon [us] for many days, and no small tempest lay on [us,] all hope that we should be saved was now taken away.  (21) And when they had been long without food, then Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have set sail from Crete, and have gotten this injury and loss.  (22) And now I exhort you to be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of life among you, but [only] of the ship.  

lifeline |ˈlīfˌlīn|
1 a thing on which someone or something depends or which provides a means of escape from a difficult situation: faith is a lifeline for the hopeless.

No matter how many times I read Holy Scripture, I am often stunned to see a new perspective in the Word. This is singularly attributable to maturing in the spirit and my ever continuing readiness to see a Biblical lesson. It’s rarely like a bolt of lightening, and never a revelation that could be labeled as ‘new interpretation’, but rather just a grown up understanding of what has always been there to be seen. Truly the Bible is a living Word. 

Recently, reading in Acts, the last chapters, once again I found Paul a prisoner on a ship bound for an interview with Caesar. The Jews wanted him eliminated. He was making too many waves in the religious community, drawing away too many faithful to become followers of The Way. They didn’t like it, so they asked the Romans to do their dirty work for them, find him guilty and execute him. 

In ancient Asia, things didn’t move as quickly as they do now. Paul spent several years as a prisoner, awaiting fair trial. As a natural born Roman citizen, he was entitled to be heard. Though the Jews made up a case against him, the local authorities, having interviewed him, couldn’t find a thing worth executing him for. They kept passing the buck until eventually he was sent off for a face to face with the big guy. 

This took time too because he had to be transported on a ship, airplanes and other modern transportation not yet having been invented. Winter was coming and Paul warned them they should port until after the threat of storms had passed. They didn’t listen, of course. Sure enough, they found themselves in a tempest for weeks. They couldn’t eat, they couldn’t sleep. They had to toss over goods to lighten the load. They believed they were going to die. Paul assured them that he was destined to be interviewed by Caesar and they also would be spared by God’s mercy. And that is exactly what happened, even though the ship was destroyed.

All these years, reading this story, imagining the little Roman vessel tossed about, the crew desperately hanging on, soaked to the skin, seasick and without hope, I never noticed one little thing, until this last read through. 

Paul suffered right along with the rest. He was tossed and soaked and sick and hungry and sleep deprived. He went through exactly what the crew did. But he had one thing they did not. He had faith and foreknowledge that he would be spared. 

How significant a thing is faith? How do we ignore the lifeline that keeps us looking up and out, keeps us holding on? How can we trust a manmade doctrine that lulls us into believing we don’t really have to have faith like Paul in the Tempest if we just believe that we won’t have to go through the Tempest? 

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, just like Paul warning the crew who would not listen, the Tempest is upon us, dearhearts. The waves of judgment are about to engulf us. We cannot prepare for this physically, only spiritually. It’s time to grow up and realize that God often spares us but only after we survive the storm. It’s the faith that we will  survive, no matter what, that is our lifeline. 

For Him,

God is waiting to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him. He invites us to prove Him. He longs to demonstrate what He can do, exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, great and mighty things which we know not.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

This is our Father’s world. God is still on the throne of creation. Call on Him and He will answer.  ~ Vance Havner