Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lake TippacanĂș Adventure

Last Thursday my son, Tim, and Grandson, Evan, invited me to accompany them on an adventure in the wild. We drove 2 ½ hours into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Utica Lake, one of many lakes in this scenic area.
There we launched Tim’s canoe and explored the lake looking for a spot to camp on one of the islands.

We found a beautiful spot, put up the tent quickly and then returned about one mile rowing across the lake to get all out gear. Now we loaded all our stuff into an inflatable raft, piling food containers, sleeping bags, chairs and table and tying them securely. We looked like an aquatic version of the Hollywood Hillbillies as we towed the raft with the canoe… all three of us rowing hard back to our island home.
It was a beautiful evening. Tim fixed us some peanut butter and jam sandwiches which we devoured as we sat and watched the sunset across the lake. Tim’s wife, Cheryl, had prepared and packed wonderful meals with all the trimmings. The second night we had corn on the cob roasted in foil over the open fire, cooked squash and potatoes baked in foil. And all this together with delicious BBQ New York steaks! Tim has a double grill invention that hold steaks sandwiched between the two grills so they can be held over an open fire and turned over while being barbequed. They were so good!
Friday we hiked all over the island, through dense forests and climbing to the top of huge rocks for awesome views.
All went well until... Yes, there has to be an “until.” We had loaded up the canoe to take me back to my car since I was returning home while Tim and Evan were staying another night. Tim and Evan were in the canoe, with my suitcase and ready to row with me the one mile across to my car. I put one foot in the canoe and was pushing off from the shore when I lost my footing and tipped the canoe over and dumped us all nicely into the lake. It was a hilarious sight! Tim grabbed my suitcase in time to save my Bible from damage. My devotional journal now has that “authentic antique look”. Actually I was surprised to find that the water was not uncomfortably cold. But I hurried out of the water because I had my little camera on my belt. Digital cameras, just like their old fashioned ancestors, do not like to be baptized by immersion… ha. When I got home I took it all apart and have the main parts sealed a baggy with rice to see if I can dry it out. I think there might be hope to salvage it. The pictures I had taken had not suffered damage.
I have decide to rename this lake with an old Indian name, “Lake TippacanĂș”… ha!
(Click on pictures to enlarge.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Scars and Stripes Forever!

Last night a friend and I were discussing my recent “graveside” blog. We had a brief conversation on the phone related to opening up our lives and allowing our pain to become visible to others. Later I received the following insightful note from my friend, who prefers to remain anonymous. I requested permission to publish it on my blog.

“After we were done talking on the phone last night, I turned on TBN just for a few minutes, and Pastor Paula White came on and read the Scripture from John 20:20 +27 "And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side." and then in the same chapter vs 27 "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side;" After this I turned the TV off. I don't know what she preached, but because of our previous conversation, that Scripture touched me deeply. You know, when we have deep, deep hurts that come through our lives, we are so eager to hide them. We just don't want others to see or feel our deep hurt, we rather cover them up and cry by ourselves, cry by our bedside, or graveside.

But, what did Jesus do? He showed them his scarred hands and feet, which we shall behold for all eternity, the innocent Lamb slain for our sins. He uncovered HIS side, to show them the scar on HIS side, for all to see. I'm one that does not like to see scars, nor like to show mine. But HE did. FOR US. I think this was just the lesson from the Bible that I needed after our conversation. It said to me: "Don't hide your grief, don't hide your scars."

Notice that it strengthened the Apostles' faith. Do our scars strengthen other disciples’ faith? After time, you forget your scars, they heal, and many times you just can’t see them anymore, because of the Balm of Gilead: Jesus. I don't know what Paula preached, but the Holy Spirit clearly spoke to me. Hope this blesses you too.”

Now allow me to add: Rev 5:6 “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…” The totally perfect Savior-Lamb of God today carries eternal, shameful scars of torture and disfigurement. But as I stare in awe at them, He becomes more beautiful because they are scars of His love for me.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

She's Not Coming Back

A few days ago I drove to Sacramento and back, 3 1/2 hours round trip, for a business appointment. On the way back my radio just happened to land on a country music station and, because there was a steel guitar (used to be called Hawaiian guitar) playing in the background, I listened… mostly since I like to check out the style of other musicians. Well, the sad country song was all about how "She left me this time without any tears in her eyes and now I'm sitting here on the front porch steps looking down the road wondering if that meant she'll never come back." Suddenly the lyrics of this song hit me kind of hard because I know there is no chance that my darling is coming back. I was close to the cemetery where Frances was buried so, with that sad song still ringing in my head, I pulled off the highway and went once again to visit her graveside.
I knelt in the wet grass and bawled my heart out forever… well, not quite forever. Then I prayed in the Spirit and worshipped my wonderful Lord Jesus that has been holding me together so faithfully these past ten months. And I started to sing, “Speak my Lord. Speak my Lord. Speak and I'll be quick to answer Thee. Speak my Lord. Speak my Lord. Speak and I will answer ‘Lord send me.’" And once again I promised Him that I would seek His guidance and follow Him back to Argentina or wherever He leads me. The ticket is purchased and reserved. I arrive back in Argentina on August 24, Lord willing, and I don't expect to return to California until mid December.
It seems so sad, but true. She’s not coming back! But “Praise be to God” I’ll be meeting her again soon at the feet of Jesus! I hope to meet you there, too.

Psalm 30:5 "Tears may flow in the night, but joy comes in the morning." GNB

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

God’s Creative Art: Beautiful People and a “Blue Torch”

Last Sunday and again this morning I had the privilege of filling in for Chaplain Jim Hill at the Bethel Retirement Home in Modesto. It is a charming facility with two separate units; one for the elderly who are self sufficient called the “Independent” unit and the other for those that need “Assisted Living”.

My good friend, Dan Middleton, helped me in the two services (one for each unit) on Sunday and again both services today, Wednesday. On Sunday I revived my Hawaiian guitar (lap steel guitar) and Dan accompanied me on the acoustic Spanish guitar. After a fun time of singing, I pulled out Felipe who told a Bible story. Then I preached a short message. The people seemed to really enjoy the music, the worship, Felipe’s antics and the "Word."
Today, Wednesday, just for variety, I took my accordion. This time we sang a medley of ancient choruses, the ones we used to sing when Frances and I were teenage kids. Dan helped me lead the singing since my voice is still very weak. Today he accompanied me on the piano, which he does very well. Again I ministered to both groups. I was dashing away for the second service this morning, when a lady called me to her chair. She said that while I was praying her eye, that apparently had been totally blind, suddenly was able to see “the light over my head”. She was rejoicing, so I am rejoicing with her. (She is the lady nearest the camera in the photo above.)

I enjoy shooting pictures of God’s creative art. In this case: these beautiful people and this flower that blooms in my back yard every year at this time.
I call it my “Blue Torch” since the blue part resembles a flame. Click on it to enlarge the picture and enjoy the intricate detail while you recall Jesus’ words, “Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these!”


Monday, July 11, 2011

With the Homeless on the Streets of San Francisco

Yesterday, Sunday, I enjoyed an awesome day on the streets of San Francisco with Pastors Evan and April Prosser and their wonderful Homeless Church! At the last minute I decided to take my Hawaiian Guitar. I think I had not played it since Frances went to be with Jesus last year. It attracted some attention,
but not as much as Felipe. In both open air locations AM and PM he had a captive audience. One of the workers said that even some hecklers stopped to listen with fixed attention. I’m convinced that every adult has a little kid in there somewhere.
Pastor Evan plays a mean violin. He can really make that thing sing. And he’s got a good sound man that is also a converted professional guitarist. Great stuff! Worship was beautiful.
I felt a powerful anointing when preaching in both services and could sense that the Word was sinking deep into hearts. Invisible miracles that last for eternity were taking place down inside. At first only one brave man responded to the AM altar call. His name is Jesse. Others came later for prayer. A larger group responded at the afternoon service.

Jesus came for broken people and this is a work of love designed to reach them.

After each service they feed the entire homeless world right there on the street. You’ve heard of “service with a smile”. This is “service with visible love”. Check out the sister serving up breakfast and tenderly stroking the homeless woman’s forehead.
I looked at these faces and thought, "These are real people with deep needs just like all of us."

Thanks for your prayers. Some of you even fasted and prayed! My voice held out AM and PM with not much left over.

I think my ribs survived all the squeezing. Wounded people, when touched by Jesus’ love, can sure hug you tight!


Friday, July 1, 2011

What’s in a Rose?

What’s in a Rose?

A memory. A fond memory of long ago… when we fell in love.* When I first dared to take your hand as we walked together. The drops of morning dew on its tender petals remind me of the freshness, the purity of that moment!

Where are you now, my love, my darling? Are you surrounded by glorious angels? Are you enjoying the fellowship of those that have gone before? What is heaven like? Can you look down on me? Can you see my tears? If so, don’t take it as grief, but only as an expression of my deep love for you. I long to send you a letter, an email message, a rose, a touch. I miss the touch of your soft, smooth skin.

Where are you my darling, my love? Today I saw you in a rose.

Forever yours.


*On our first date I called ahead to find out what color Frances would be wearing. Then I took her a delicate yellow rose corsage to pin on her blouse. From that day forever her favorite flower was the yellow rose. She was 16 and I was 17. I picked her up in my recently purchased 1933 Oldsmobile. That classy old car had belonged first to my grandmother, then to my mother. Finally I bought it from my mother for 100 hard-earned dollars. That Saturday night we went to Youth for Christ in downtown Portland. As we walked together from where I parked the car to the Portland Civic Auditorium our hands touched and sparks flew. Then I built up the courage and took her hand. 500 volts charged through my being! I can remember that moment like a picture, even where we were on the sidewalk when it happened. She was my love, close to me for over 60 years, first as “going steady” for nearly two years and then almost 59 years faithfully by my side through bright days and dark nights as my darling wife.

Because her favorite flower was the yellow rose, our sons would sometimes buy her a plant of yellow roses to adorn our garden. The one in the picture is from a plant, a gift to her from our son, Mike. Today its beauty called me into the distant past. Yet just ahead we have another date coming… and I can hardly wait! Lord Jesus, maybe you’d let me take her a yellow rose.