Ate porkskins today. The kind with pig fat still on them. Brought back memories of when we used to kill a pig and Daddy would turn it into a thousand piece puzzle, with every tidbit important to our nourishment or entertainment.

Mama took the skin for cracklins the feet for pickling, Daddy got the rump and shoulders for serious smoking and baking, my brother and I got the stomach and bladder as substitute balloons, and our sisters got away from us as fast as they could.

I’ll tell you later how we vanquished our enemies, the chickens.

A Vesuvian Christmas

A Vesuvian Christmas

I’ll never forget going to Pompei, Italy. I saw figures of people who had perished in the volcanic eruption. They were covered in lava and ash. Centuries later excavators found hollow places in the ruins. They poured in plaster of Paris, waited, then chipped away the lava rock. They found perfectly cast images of the people in their death poses.

I’ve felt hollow before. There have been people in my life over time and something happened in our relationship. They disappeared in the lava of resentment, the ash of forgetfulness, or simply by the passage of time. Years later I am saddened by so many losses.

But, the Holy Spirit comes along and pours the plaster of grace and purpose into those hollows of my life. I lift out the image of those people and put them in the museum of remembrance. I’m thankful I had them in my life, and I’ll never forget the shape of their unique self, the contours of their personality, and the smoothness of their comforting touch.

So, I’m not hollow. Because God fills all things: all the spaces, all the gaps, all the longings.

So, this Christmas, when I miss people, and YOU miss people, remember: God has a large supply of plaster of Paris.


Jones Lamar Howell

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I look for You

like a sailor, with his eyeglass

leaning on the creaking mast

searching for land

I long for You

like a farmer in his field

leans against the tractor wheel

praying for rain

I wait for You

like a pup that sits and begs

leans against the table leg

for just a scrap

I hope for You

like a kid at First and Main

leans against the window pane

wishing for toys



I’ve known tears

I’ve had tears roll down my cheeks you’ll never taste

I am a friend to sorrow

I’ve spilled tears into cups you’ll never drink from

I am acquainted with grief

I’ve filled pools you’ll never swim in

and oceans you’ll never sail.

I wish you could kiss my wet cheek

Drink from my cup

Backstroke beside me

And sail into my watery horizon.

But it’s just me, me and

One who separated land from sea

Who walked upon it

Who drank and drained the dregs of mankind

And who took a betrayer’s kiss to the cheek.

It’s enough

That He understands.

Nothing left to say

No one to impress

No fancy prayer to pray

or store to window dress

No arguments to make

or promises to claim

No property to stake

No stamping with His name

I’m surrendered here upon His open sea

Adrift in currents of His sovereignty

Yet tethered to the cosmic timeless One

He is the be-all and end-all’ to me

This Meadow

I played in this meadow

Watched the saplings sprout

Lay down in the grass and watched the sky swirl

suppressed a laugh as I

Waited for someone to come find me

I worked in this meadow

Watched the young tree grow

Lay down in the wheat and watched the dark clouds roll

expressed a sigh as I

Waited for someone to bring me water

I lie in this meadow

Beneath the mighty oak

Feel the push of invading roots and pine for the sky

suppressing my breath as I

Wait for the Son to call me out

This is my piece of earth

Borrowed for a short time

Him and Himalayas


You melt the snow off my Himalayas

You take the pressure off the bottom of my sea

You fill my thin Martian air with oxygen

And you’re the breeze that blows through my Death Valley

Greek Salad Church

My wife picks out the olives in a Greek salad and gives them to me. I think we do that in church too. We pick out the pungent, flavorful, and potentially embarrassing things and eliminate them from our spiritual meal. We don’t employ the gifts of the Spirit, sing in the Spirit, get on our knees, pray aloud, preach about Hell or the Second Coming.

We have Greek salad without the Greek elements. We make noise. We have the crunch and our own choice of dressing. We’re in control of the ingredients. I’m not saying let’s get out of control with anchovies or jalapeños – like handling snakes or always needing to fall under the power.

But, dang – the crunch, crunch, crunch of the predictable!

Well, Paul did say, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek,” so, I guess we’ll have to stick to the common Caesar salad, and “do as the Romans (all socially-acceptable churches) do.”

How about some purple onions! Hallelujah, brother! Did you feel that!

As geologists dig into the earth, they come across different strata of soil and rock. It seems in our attempt to revolutionize our society, we have dug down to an even lower stratum. Let me attempt to put them in descending order of their exposure and destruction:

civility is built upon

mutual respect, which is built upon

recognizing individual worth, which is built upon

equality, which is built upon

recognizing the innate rights of human, which is built upon

the belief that those rights come from God.

The bedrock of civilized society rests upon God.

When there is no recognition that our rights and basic worth as humans are innate and come from our Creator, then humans become the center of existence. They establish purpose, meaning, and administration of the world, essentially becoming the arbiters of life and death, work and even play.

Then society is taxed with the job of making everyone equal, and since they have no absolute standard, this task is one by the exertion of power. Whoever has the power, can enforce their will. Even when the goal of power, which ostensibly is to establish security and stability, has been accomplished, the exercise of power doesn’t end because giving up power is risky to the powerful.

So, can we get back the layers we have uncovered and disturbed? Not likely. It takes time to build a civil society, and an uncivil one is too busy trying either to survive or keeping others from doing so.

What if there were no moral prohibitions

And you could do what you wanted

No consequences, no risks, no secrets


Plowing headlong through barriers

Wallowing in sheer physical pleasure

Entertaining any and every fantasy

No self-government, no rule of any kind

Everything saccharine, frothy, sensational

Of course, nothing would get done either.

Self is a terrible master

and a very regretful slave.