What Letters do for Lovers

In the summer of 1980, I was in New Jersey working for a mason contractor named Alphonse. One day a post card arrived from, “Ginnette,” who was living in Michigan. I remembered having dinner at her apartment once, but I couldn’t quite picture what she looked like! We began to write, and once we left…

Climb the Stairwell

Back in the 90’s we would take our new staff into East New York, Brooklyn, for their first brush with evangelism. It never failed that the beat cops would stop our group, point to the subway and say, “leave! It’s too dangerous for you here.” We didn’t. We had an affiliate, Willie Branch, who ran…

This Favored Wound

I was weeding with a double-edged machete, and hadn’t noticed I disturbed a hornet’s nest. Forgetting I gripped a weapon, I swatted at my stung hand, and sliced open my forearm, a gaping wound. It has taken a long time to heal. I like to think of wounds as a mark of God’s ownership. Spiritual…

The Food of Tears

This past year, I went through a period of silence. My normal unhurried times with God, usually the bread of His presence and the wine of His tenderness, had become a famine, a sort of Eucharist of dissolution. During many of those hours, God surprised me with tears. Not knowing fully why I cried, I…

Dry Swallow Christians

“As the deer pants for the water brooks… ”Psalm 42, Son’s of Korah Panting. The dry swallow of an animal in search of water, tongue lolling in the mouth, perhaps running as it catches a scent of moisture, bounding through thicket, urged on by a desperate longing. An untamed instinct, pushing itself to find what…

Young Leader, You Will Do No Better

Young Leader; I speak from an older seat now, perhaps wiser, but less vigorous. I speak to your heart of fire. You, whose legs have merely loosened before the race set before you! Listen, as I tell you a secret known to everyone. When I do a mental survey of the past 35 years with…

Cherokee Nation

Whenever it happens that God brings me close to a stranger, I ask Him to bring love between us, just in case, through their long journey, love has suffered. And so it happened, just a few days ago…. Setting: Driving west on Alternate Route 412, in the heart of Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma. Call me contrarian;…

Light to Dark Edges

I accepted Christ in the winter of 1979. That summer I worked for an Italian mason who swore a blue streak, and demanded relentless labor from his crew. The work didn’t bother me, but the environment of foul language and temptation had my new faith on the ropes. So, I called Mary Anne. A couple…

God Is Not An Answering Machine

One of Satan’s darkest schemes involves elevating prayer as the center beam of life, love and mission, but wrapping it in a veneer of duty. When prayer becomes less than love, it becomes just another discipline, or function, that gets in the way of our devotion, instead of enhancing it. Stop for a moment and…

Fresh Paint

‘Nothing a fresh coat of paint can’t solve.’ That’s my father talking, the homebuilder. His hands were ever creating. I think I inherited his artist heart, but instead of picking up a paintbrush, I picked up a pen. I use words to capture the world around me.  My mind takes pictures. It’s what happened when…

The Fire He Gives Me

On the beach, late afternoon, tide out, sand firm under foot. I’m not here to ogle at the pelicans, but to test my strength by running a mile as fast as my legs can carry me. When I lace up my old track spikes, memories flood my mind, and oddly, thoughts land on a long…

Walter,’Never at the Altar’

My partner for the ‘afternoon of outreach’ was Daniel, a high school student from Brooklyn. It was a first for him, this ‘going out and talking to perfect strangers.’ He was nervous, visibly. Later, he confided that for the past couple of years atheists, who challenged his every belief, had bullied him. The weekend retreat…