Monday, May 27, 2013

Not Out of the Woods Yet

Many years ago at a church picnic, at Jester Park just north of Des Moines, I remember getting lost in the woods with some other kids from the church.  Now granted, as I recall it was my older sister and some of her friends who I had followed into the woods, but soon the band of young people got turned around and “lost” for the lack of a better term.

It may not sound all that creepy, but at the time there were some outlaw bikers who had been in the park during the church picnic, so it’s likely there was mild panic amongst some of the adults wondering where we had gone.  Not to mention I was about wetting myself with fear that we would never get back.  And it was getting dark.

Likely at this point in my narrative, my big sister will step in and correct my memory, but if I’m wrong Bonnie, please wait.  Smiling as I write.

My thoughts run this way.  Over and over it seemed that we would come up over some ridge in the woods, hoping to see the shelter house where the church picnic was being held, but nope; just another valley and confusion as to which way to go.  We were Not Out of the Woods Yet!

My guess is we weren’t lost for more than an hour or so, but boy it felt like days.  And add to the fact, darkness was falling faster than we could climb the next hillside.  By that time I was likely crying like a little brother might do, tagging along with his big sister, both of which not knowing if they’d get back before the wolves or the outlaw bikers moved in for the kill.  It was nerve wracking.

Like then and now, there are times when I realize I’m Not Out of the Woods Yet.  I’m not threw the valley yet.  I’m not safely back at the shelter house, but I’m still trekking along with butterflies in my stomach, wondering if I’ll get home safely.

It really doesn’t matter what type of thing we’re facing, we all have moments when we know and feel that we’re Not Out of the Woods Yet.  Be it by our own compulsive meanderings that lead us off the beaten path, or other distractions that catch our eye and we look intently in the wrong direction, only to find ourselves knee deep in poison ivy and outlaw bikers stalking us in the shadows of our minds.  Or it can even be things thrown at us, that have little or nothing to do with our doing, they just come at us.  It’s in those moments that we may find ourselves saying; “I’m Not Out of the Woods Yet”.

Now panic can do amazing things.  It can cause us to run in circles, or it can cause us to become focused and determined to rise above and get out of the fog the fear.  My prayer and desire is the latter.

There are countless scriptures that indicate God’s people were Not Out of the Woods Yet, but the time did come and God did ordain that they eventually, by His grace and their faith in His guiding hand, would break the tree line and emerge into the sunlight of a clearing and the security of His Shelter House.

That moment, my dear friend is coming for me.  And it’s coming for you!  You may be feeling you’re Not Out of the Woods Yet, but you will be eventually.  We all will be, if we keep listening to the sound of His voice leading us on the path less traveled.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Holes for Eyes

As I slipped in and out of REM this morning, I had thoughts of something Jesus said.  He told us that our eyes are an access point to our souls; and that a Spirit led observer can actually see into those secret places of a person’s heart.

Don’t worry, I’m not taking online classes or anything to become certified, but I will say this; ever since I was a child, something strange would occur from time to time when I would encounter certain people.  Some would describe it like this.  “The lights were on, but nobodies home.”  You know what I’m saying?

And it goes beyond just personality or temperament.  It’s deeper.  There are times when the Lord speaks and shows me things.  I look into certain people’s eyes and I see things.  (Creepy I know, nonetheless true.)  Sometimes it’s very disturbing.  It’s like peeking into the window of someone’s private space.

There have been times I’ve looked into the eyes of a man and God showed me adultery, pornography or even violence.  Other times the eyes have shown me a life of falsehood (lies) and self-deception (lies).  And at times, I’ve seen brokenness and sorry beyond apparent repair (despair).  Or how about seeing anger and resentment (hurt); the list goes on and on.

But the flip side is, I’ve often seen Jesus alive and well in those eyes.  I’ve seen a gentle spirit, nurtured by the truth of God.  I’ve seen the eyes of a man in whom there is no “guile” or effort to hide from the truth or deceive others.

In the eyes of people, by the leading of the Holy Spirit we can see darkness or light.  We can see a need or we can see a bulkhead of self-reliance unwilling to be helped or known by God or anyone else.
As one who has known love and plans to love again in a very personal way; it is possible to see within the eyes of another, a place of safety, vulnerability, desire, hope, light, dreams and much, much, more as God ordains a holy interface born of His nature and image.  The possibilities are endless – and promised!

Don’t answer out loud, but do you know what I mean?  To look into the eyes of a child or loved one and see oneself in the meadow of their heart and mind – playing and celebrating – being part of their world and they of yours.  Mysteries indeed to the uninitiated, but to those of us who have the power of God within us, such prophetic vistas open roads to new hope and faith in Him who plans all things.

My greatest fear is not that someone would look into my eyes and see skeletons in my closet or feet of clay covered by Wingtips of spiritual bravado, but that all they would see is void.  A void so dark it looks like “dolls eyes” (Captain Quint – Jaws circa ’75).  Oh what a fear to have Holes for Eyes. Far worse than Little Orphan Annie.  At least she had cute red hair and a sweet dog.  I digress.

What I’m trying to say, for my friend who is teaching me to clarify and be succinct:  I don’t want Holes for Eyes!  I either want others, by God’s grace and power to see glory, hope, faith, love and Jesus.  Or I want them to see pain, sorrow, sin, and great need.  But I NEVER EVER just want Holes for Eyes!

For when a person has Holes for Eyes, it’s the same as being lukewarm with God.  Not a good thing at all; scary at best, deadly at worst.

So after all these words, let me ask: do you have Holes for Eyes?  Or can it been seen that there something resident within?  I hope it’s good or evil, light or dark, but woe unto the man who only has Holes for Eyes.

PS: I’m near sighted, astigmatic, and wear bifocals, but one thing I do know, I don’t I have Holes for Eyes.  Peek inside next time you're close enough.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


What does it mean?  Well I guess it could mean, in theory that a bullet cannot penetrate.  Right?  But what if they make a bigger sharper more powerful bullet?  Then what?  Somebody has to come up with the next level of bulletproofing.  And the quest continues in an effort to become invincible and protected from impact or death.

That word dropped into my spirit this week.  Why?  I cannot tell you, but I had to write as I usually do.  Catharsis?  Most likely, but it’s always deeper and cheaper than professional therapy.

I’ve always found it fascinating to watch television shows that highlighted the science of bulletproofing things.  Glass, clothing, vehicles, and walls – the list is endless.  It’s amazing what the advances in this technology have achieved.  But again I beg the question: what if a bigger projectile comes your way?

I believe God has the most invincible substance in the universe, and very often unknown or unseen by humankind.  Go with me for a moment please.

Psalm 119:165 reveals the divine substance God has created for an impervious covering from oncoming projectiles that are meant for our destruction.  “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (KJV)

Now that doesn’t sound too dangerous, until you realize what projectiles the enemy of our soul uses against us.  As a matter of fact, when we come to the realization that our enemy only has a cadre of lies and liars, and a simple but deadly strategy to get us to believe them and thereby take offense – we can begin to see what bulletproof really looks and feels like.

Jesus told us “offenses” would come.  He told us in this world we would have “trouble”.  He showed us by His own life that we would be assaulted by weakness and temptation, yet we could overcome.  Even while being tortured and executed He demonstrated Words of faith to release His offenders; “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

One time the religious leaders of His day attempted to offend Jesus by calling Him a bastard.  Because it was widely known at the time, that Joseph His earthly dad, wasn’t His biologic father.  They even called him a drunk, a glutton, a friend of sinners, and accused Him of being demon possessed and in service of Beelzebub.  Sounds like Jesus could have had much to be offended by, but He wasn’t.

So why and how could He have lived with such a Bulletproof nature?  And no, it wasn’t because He was God and human at the same time.  Because He set aside His privileged status (Son of God), to become just like us, yet never committing sin (never getting offended).

Here’s how I believe (am convinced) that He did it.  He loved the Law of God.  Not only did He know the Torah, and the Prophets and all recorded scriptures written to that date, but He also loved and submitted to the Talmud of the Holy Spirit – on a moment by moment basis.  He described it as hearing and seeing what the Father did, and then acting in obedience and in parallel to those things revealed (laws).

If I am to become the Bulletproof man of God He’s ordained me to be, I must love not only what is written between the covers of my Bible, but I must whole heartedly love the new and final law or command left by Jesus – Love.  The Law that was left for us to live by is this: Love God with all our lives and love people.  Period.

All my actions and behaviors must be rooted in my devotion to Father God and obedience to this Law of Love, as demonstrated through Jesus’ life and example and the constant guidance of the Father via the Holy Spirit.  Even Jesus told us that all the historic writings of scripture hang on those two commands (laws).

So, by loving this new and sometimes difficult to obey Law, I am promised protection from offenses that will assuredly come against my soul.  And if I disregard this highest and best strategy for Bulletproofing my soul (and entire life), then I am guaranteed that offenses will begin the insidious decay of the Life God has planned for me.

So let me ask you?  How Bulletproof is your soul?  Because if you’re using the “latest” and “greatest” religious strategy or mantra, and you feel impervious, just wait because a greater bullet of offense will come, and you’ll become vulnerable to impact or death.  But, if you lay hold of the Living Law of Love, and if you will moment by moment pay attention to and obey the Voice of the Father, you will always stay one step ahead of the enemy of your soul.  You will become Bulletproof, because the Voice of the Father, and the love of His Law will prevent offense from piercing your soul.

The greatest risk I run as a follower of Jesus Christ is ignoring the opportunity to Bulletproof my soul, by loving the Law of God.  And the proof is in the peace; the peace that cannot be explained, especially to the uninitiated.

Bulletproof – It’s possible!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Never Mind

I’m not sure when I first heard that expression; Never Mind.  But over the years I’ve used it to push away confusion and misunderstanding.  And I’ve used it to push away moments when I didn’t want to express or explain myself.  But nonetheless I’ve used it – so Never Mind.

The idea of Never Mind-ing anything is pretty lame when you think about it.  As a matter of fact, blogs like this elicit similar words.  Blah, blah, blah Russell – Never Mind.  In other words just don’t even think about what I just said.  Forget it.  Blow it off.  Ignore it.

Yet the Bible tells us from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  So whatever is coming out of my mouth somehow originates from somewhere deep inside me.  Oh you may argue otherwise, but I think God is right.

When my mouth opens – my heart speaks.  Good bad or indifferent.

So the next time you say; Never Mind... don’t expect anyone to accept it.  Because if you open your mouth and speak; you really want someone to mind (or pay attention to) what you’re saying.  You really do want their mind to attach to those words and you want to make an impact.

Therefore, consider your words wisely.  Because if you think Never Mind gives you a pass… it doesn’t.

Never Mind

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Love Covers

As far back as I can remember my mom lived these words.  And I’m not suggesting that she entertained evil or tolerated insolence or rebellion in her children or life, but she seemed to have a discerning eye for knowing the difference between dirt in the heart versus dirt on the surface of the lives of her children and others.  Make sense?

I’ve been told, when I was just an infant, mom was carrying me in her arms.  We lived in an old salt box shaped house on the south side of Des Moines, and the stairs to the second floor were very steep.  Apparently she was at the top of the stairs with me in her arms and she lost her footing on that top stair and slipped.  As the story goes she fell backwards and clutched me to her breast so as not to drop me and to protect me as she slid down the entire steep flight of stairs.

Now it doesn’t sound too extreme, but I guess she broke her tail bone and from that point on had chronic pain and trouble in that area because of the fracture.  I only found out about that incident when I was in college.  But I always knew she had pain while sitting in certain chairs, but never knew why.  Love Covers?

Too many times to count, it would be the last piece of food on a plate or in a bowl and she always gave it up for one of us in the family.  Or for that matter when cookies were baked, she always seemed to eat the burnt ones (carbon deficiency I guess?), and left the good ones for us.  Love Covers?

There were times when I was in grade school and struggling with certain school issues.  Be it my reading, other children making fun of me, conflict with teaches or too many visits to the principal’s office; a stomach ache tended to keep me home.  Poor parenting some would say (maybe psycho sematic?), but I knew early on, she just couldn’t bring herself to force me into painful childhood struggles.  Love Covers?

Some might say that she coddled me.  Maybe she did, but to this day, I know how to stand and fight with the best of them, and I’m not a quitter – but I do know how to be merciful and compassionate, and I do get the whole concept of empathy and I practice it well.  Love Covers?

Or how about the times I would come home late while in high school, and she would get up and sit and talk with me while I ate a bowl of cereal.  I knew those moments were safe.  I would tell her that we sneaked into the Forum IV theaters to watch a movie, or that us guys had tried smoking cigarettes or pot.  Or that beer had somehow factored into where I had been that night, but that I felt bad about it.  She would tell me not to tell my dad, but to keep it between us and God – and don’t do it again or worse may befall me.  I’d go to bed feeling deeply convicted for my external dirt, asking the Lord to forgive me, but knowing He and my mom knew my heart wasn’t dirty – just my outsides for moment in time.  Love Covers?

Or how about the times that I would cry about a broken heart?  And she would hold me and tell me I was special and that she loved me and would never trade me for anything.  It brings me to tears right now, thinking back on those moments.  She still tells me almost weekly, when we talk on the phone, that she loves me and that life will be okay, because the Lord knows what I need and He will provide.  Love Covers?

I can’t tell you that my mom was the world’s greatest mom, but I can tell you that she was and is the greatest mom I’ve ever had and she always makes me laugh and I make her laugh.  Love Covers?

To my mom Betty Kinney-Potterton; thank you and Happy Mother’s Day!  Your love has taught me of God’s love.  And that is the best parenting in my book.  You’ve taught me grace and mercy.  You’ve taught me gentle strength and tenacity, when those qualities were leaking out of me.  I love you mom!

Love Covers?  Yes it does… at least when it comes to my mom. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Rising to My Own Fall

As a biologist, I understand the life cycle God has put in place to keep this broken biosphere limping along with the appearance of renewed life, season after season.  Okay I’m not officially a biologist, but I would have been if I matriculated my first interest of study to its prescribed end, but I didn’t.  Arm-chair science, like arm-chair theology, can be risky when run on human trials without proper consent.  I digress.

When we live the course of life set before us, with its entire set of unforeseen pitfall and hairpin turns, we tend to think “that’s just life.”  But I think it’s not.  I think there is much more going on than meets the naked eye or experience.

I believe that everything in life, pain or pleasure, are found in the hand of God as instruments for the good of any and all who experience them.  Yet from the wayward to the most forward, God is working His will and good pleasure, but that’s not how we usually see it (or feel it).

We live to rise, to improve, to get better and have more – or we just live in mediocrity, but either way we usually don’t understand that aiming at a higher place will likely end in a lower state; if we don’t understand the path to the divine promise.

Rising to My Own Fall is the common basis for advance within the Kingdom, for if I desire to be first, I must be last.  If I desire life I must die.  If I desire strength I must be weak.  If I desire to be served I must first serve.  If I desire to lead I must follow.  If I desire to be lifted up I must first be brought low.

Do you see the pattern?  Do you realize that the greatest summit you can climb is that of your own admission to human depravity?

Don’t get me wrong.  This is not about vane self-deprecation or faking self-effacement – simply to get or to gain.  But it’s about an honest appraisal of who we are – without Him.  Who we are at the core was never good until redemption.

So the next time you aspire to a greater anything – without a genuine assessment of Who it is that gets you there – take heed.  For in Rising to My Own Fall did there alone I realized the fallacy in flesh and self-sufficiency.  May you too discover this Kingdom mystery so often glossed over for more appealing tones of self-righteousness and indulgence – all in the name of free grace and love.

Rising to My Own Fall – just might be the best thing that ever happened to me.  But only as I see my path in the rear-view mirror of life, am I aware of the Hand that guided every step of the way.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Will of God

Never in my entire life has there been any other subject of greater concern, but The Will of God.  Oh I’ve toyed with other major Bible themes and doctrines, many of which are actually not clear cut, but may be up for interpretation – without the risk of missing the special favor of God for salvation.  But this one subject has held my attention above all others in the Bible.  Simply put, I don’t want to miss The Will of God – and over my 52 years I often have.

The apostle Paul teaches us that it IS possible to know and participate in, and even test The Will of God, if we are so inclined.  And it is never based upon our abilities, but upon the tenuous simplicity of laying down our lives (our will) for His.  In doing so something happens.  Our minds melt.  Our thinking begins to change; because we are deliberately putting aside our carnal thoughts and desires that are always predicated upon self-preservation and pleasure.  And as we take a stand by the renewal of our minds (our thinking), the fog begins to lift.  Confusion disperses like diluting a toxic solution with a pure reagent (the solution to pollution is dilution).

As I do as He did, offer my will and my body as an instrument of service to Father God, I discover the ease and joy of obedience.  But only when I finally get to the place of desperation, even holy restlessness, and am willing to tap-out or throw in the towel do I find His perfect Yoke.

I cannot say the lead up to that glorious drop on the other side is easy, because for me it wasn’t.  The climb and the ratcheting up to the place of release can be nerve wracking and frankly scary.  But oh the vistas of hope seen at the pinnacle of that upward trek, and the breezes of pure Spirit wind – they are matchless.  They become divine refreshment to slake the driest soul – mine.

I really want to test God (argue with me later about that thought).  And there are few places in scripture that give me that invitation.  In Malachi I’m called to test Him by the faith and obedience to bringing my tithe into the storehouse to supply the work of God.  And also in Romans 12:1-2, I’m invited to test God in the veracity of His will – His good, pleasing and perfect will.  I’m taking that offer.

The Will of God need not be a mystery – to the one willing to die to self and live for Him.

As the monitor of life beeps slower and slower and the respirations get shallower and shallower, our flesh grasps the sheets and twitches its toes not wanting to depart.  That can be a very disturbing moment at best and at worst produce a panic matched nowhere.  But the moment I release, the moment I concede to my own death on the altar of Grace – lightning strikes in the spirit realm and I cross to the other side and find something that is so good, pleasing and perfect in nature I never want to go back.

Thank you Father God for working through a mystery and constantly finding ways to bring us to points of discovery through the death of self – only to find true Life in The Will of God.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Kingpin

In 1974 I saw pictures in a newly publication called Skateboarder Magazine.  Those pictures changed my life and my motivation.  I soon became a skateboarder.  I still am, just far less vertical.

As I evolved in the sport so too did the equipment.  Year in and year out technological improvements flooded the market making different tricks and moves possible.  But one thing has not changed much since those early days; the physics and principles of how a skateboard turns.

Based upon the antiquated use of split roller skates nailed to the bottom of a flat board of wood, trucks were born.  Trucks are the turning mechanism mounted under the board at the back and front ends.  Wheels are bolted on the ends of the axles and usually two large rubber bushings allow the hanger (the axle portion) to flex back and forth.  Essential for basic turns and hard carves.

I won’t digress into thoughts of my favorite brand of truck (Tracker), but I will say without trucks you just couldn’t turn.  You could not change direction.

Here’s my thought: most trucks have what used to be called The Kingpin.  It was/is an adjustable nut and bolt that the hanger (axle) rested upon, and at the base of the hanger was the pivot point.  Both The Kingpin and the pivot point are essential for the truck to work.  And depending upon the design and the tightness of the nut on the king pin, both would determine the stability of the board and the turning radius.

Without The Kingpin and pivot point; no turns would take place.  And so too with our lives; God has design people, places, things, and events to create strategic components so we could (ideally would) make the proper turns.  Or even, make the basic move called a 180.

Oh God, thank you for the grace in unforeseen Kingpins and pivot points.  Things I would have never thought of, God did.  Thank you Lord that by your design you have enabled me to do the basic life carve and even the occasional 180 to correct a direction that may have ended in eternal road rash.

I would have never understood the need for The Kingpin or pivot point in my life, if it were not for the Holy Spirit revealing how precious God’s designs truly are.  Thank you Lord.  Thank you for a mechanism to turn this life-board around. 

With a truck key in hand and fresh set of Word and Spirit bushings, I’m gonna put The Kingpin and pivot point to the test (maybe even a few grinds).  I used to be able to carve with the best of them.  Let’s see if I still got it!

The Kingpin – essential for tricks AND genuine turnarounds!