September 27, 2005

  • Tuesday, September 27, 2005


    11:01 p.m. N.Z. time


     


    Here is another e-mail I just received. As I read it, it really helped me to know that there are real people out there, who are becoming aware of the same things that I too am beginning to see.


     


    I thought I would post it so all of us will know that we’re not alone on our journey. And in Christ, it’s a done deal, we’ve already made it.


     


    Hi Barry,


     


    Great blog page. Very insightful.


    It strikes me that hindsight creates a lot of  “if only questions” – some things we think we wouldn’t do over, and some things we would do with much more passion and zest. We block out the really bad bits and amplify the good bits.


     


    The thing is – what we are, is because of what we have done and experienced. What we do and experience was known by God before we were born, and is part of His plan. Every mistake we make is a learning curve, but also a preparation for the next bit of God’s plan.


     


    I have learnt in recent times, that just because I don’t know what is unfolding around me, doesn’t mean that nothing is unfolding. Just like the morning alarm clock that awakens us to a new day, the Holy Spirit sets the alarm bells ringing to tell us when to act. Even when God knows we will miss the target, fail to act, or get the wrong end of the stick completely, it’s all in the plan.


     


    I work for a large company, with all the latest trendy business plans, and constant pressure to work out how to, reserve resources, screw suppliers to the wall, get better ‘partnerships’, etc, and I daily feel more and more alien to the whole concept. God wants us to trust him for tomorrow – we will get what we need today (and that not necessarily being what we think we need) – then we go to work and try to order the world around profit margins and growth targets.


     


    We try to follow God’s directions in our lives (love your neighbor), then we treat our business ‘partners like slaves – tied into contracts and relying on us to provide their bread and butter. We are directed in the Bible to work for our masters with all our heart, but I get frustrated, as the practices I see become more and more alien to the life I try to build outside of work.


     


    I have often thought about this sort of concept – Communism was one man’s way of trying to find utopia – everyone equal and everyone looking after his brother – in theory. Not without a fair, equal!, lovingly and understanding leader (like God?).


     


    The hippy movement used drugs to shoot for the same target under the guise of ‘Peace and Love’. I think the important area of inner peace is inside yourself – after all a happy person exudes happiness, and vice versa. A Spirit filled person exudes all that God can offer.


     


    I once changed jobs (looking for greener pastures), and in the new office, a person who worked there became my friend, and we talked about lots of stuff, including spiritual things. One day this person edged in and out of my office a few times, and eventually admitted that her and her husband had met the Lord the night before. A few days later I got paid off, and never saw that person again, but in hindsight, I now understand why I was put there, and the painful unemployment afterwards is acceptable as it was all ‘in the plan’.


     


    Reading through your blog pages again makes me realize the importance of our own history and experiences. We can use these to impart wisdom, entertain and leave another little something somewhere which might be the main cog that sets of someone’s spiritual alarm clock.


     


    I think I can sense an alarm clock ringing somewhere, but I’m not sure what I’m waking up to yet!


     


    God bless you in a new and exciting way. Keep up the good work.


     


    Your brother in the Lord,


     


    A


     


    This has been an honest letter from an honest brother who’s growing in God.


    I hope it’s blessed you as much as it has me.


     


    I’ll be back………..Maybe


    BMcG

September 18, 2005

  • Monday, September 19, 2005


    3.20 p.m. NZ time


     


    This is an e-mail I just received, and since it expresses an area of life that is so common to all of us, I thought I would post it along with some thoughts from my emerging perspective.


     


    Here’s the e-mail:


     


    “Thank you, I do find much comfort from your words in the “Surrender”


    Blog…. and many of your other blogs as well.


     


    I guess the concept of full surrender—-as much as I DO want to get there—is still a bit hard for me.  I think if one isn’t careful, the line could be blurred with passivity.  To some extent, we DO need to control our lives….for example, I need to take diabetes medication, and I think I recall you referencing one time that you have a pacemaker?  Are those not attempts to control our lives for the overall good, AND our continued existence on this earth?


     


    Perhaps it’s more clear if I think that for those things that I CAN control, for its own good, I should try….but for where there seems NO earthly or obvious solution to a problem, then surrender should be allowed and practiced.


     


    For me, it is difficult to wonder if I’m being tested sometimes; often during a problem or a difficult time, I will think, “well, this is normal—everyone goes through bad times”.  If I’m dealing with two problems at once, I say “well, this is unusual and challenging—but all I can do is my best to endure”.


     


    It just seems that in the past two weeks, problems C, D, & E have come up when I haven’t even put a dent into problems A or B yet.  And I think, “well, this is ridiculous…what’s UP with this?  Why can’t just a glimmer of good show through, just for a SECOND, to give me reassurance and allow me the grace and patience I know I need right now?”


     


    So, I guess right now I will test HIM.  I continue to pray, and I thank you so much for listening.


     


    Your brother,”


     


     


    For me, at this moment, there are two directions in which “little spirit me” can surrender. One, I can surrender to the Eternal Spirit Being that dwells within my heart. Or two, I can surrender to the old strong man that lives in my mind.


     


    For me, totally receiving and surrendering to each moment, as God’s perfect will for my life, is pure passive action, action that springs from a place of complete passive surrender. To do all that each moment requires of me, is to be poised and ready, lamp filled, wick trimmed, awake and waiting for the call.


     


    If the moment requires for me to take diabetes medication and if the required medication is available, then I’ll take it, totally aware that the results of my action is in God’s hands. If I live, praise God, if I die, Hallelujah! My race is run and I am with Him.


     


    I was on stage singing when my heart stopped beating. There was nothing wrong with my heart, but the nerve that connects my heart muscle to my brain wasn’t getting the signal through, telling the muscle to contract. So, no signal, no contraction, no contraction, no blood to my brain, no blood, no oxygen, no oxygen and it’s “Bye Bye time”. So they stuck a pacemaker in my chest.


     


    So far it seems to be doing its job, but the other day I had some funny chest pains that reminded me of my mortality.   Most people die of heart failure around 4: A.M. so when I went to sleep that night I had to accept the fact that I might wake up seeing Jesus face to face. Although I didn’t really want to leave my wife and family behind, I knew they were God’s children and He would take care of them. So that night as I went to sleep, I pressed into His Eternal Spirit that lives within me and said “Whatever Lord, whatever your plans are for our lives, whatever happens to me tonight, I know it will be your perfect will for all of us”.  Next morning when I woke up the first thought through my head was, “Wow I’m still here.”  


     


    I think when a person totally surrenders to something or to someone, that person then becomes a slave to the thing or the person they have surrendered to.


     


    So do we surrender to a God who loves us, and proved His love for us by allowing us to slaughter Him, and nail Him to a cross, while all the time saying “Forgive them for they know not what they do”?   


     


    Or do we surrender to the strong man, who lives in our brain and who is terrified of us, and tries to control us with the threat of punishment or the promise of reward, which produces only fear and greed.


     


    The prayer I learned from an old AA buddy of mine still says it all for me, “Please help me to change the things you want to change, Accept the things that you want to leave as they are, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I’ve kind of changed a few words and maybe added a few more but hey, it’s my blog and I can pray it the way I like it.


     


    When, problems C, D, & E come along and we haven’t even put a dent into problems A or B yet, remember it’s only the old dying strong man still responding to the ever changing moment with fear, pride and greed, never realizing that A, B, C, D & E are nothing more than bait, having been specifically designed to draw the “thought” man out of the deep strongholds within our minds, so we can see he’s still there hiding in the shadows. And he falls for the bait every time. Out he comes, roaring with anger, trembling with fear, trying to control the situation, and once he’s out in the open, once he’s revealed himself, then we can simply surrender him over onto the altar of faith and trust. Then we can watch the purification process take place as God transmutes this negative life destroying energy into pure, clean Holy Ghost power, a power that is totally surrendered to God’s will.


     


    It’s always darkest just before the dawn.   It seems the only way God can draw the enemy, (the strong man) out into the open, is to create a situation that to all natural appearances seems utterly hopeless. In order for that to happen there can be no glimmer of hope that can shine through, just for a second, to give us reassurance and allow us the grace and patience we think we need right now. If we saw a “glimmer” the strong man would see it too, so he would just stay hidden away. He would see there’s no need for him to respond because everything is going to work out just fine. So he wouldn’t make a move.


     


    It was only in His darkest hour, as Jesus hung dying on the cross that he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” at that moment He was in utter darkness, without a glimmer of hope in the situation He found himself in. That was the moment, with nothing but his faith in God, that He totally surrendered Himself and said “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”  That was when it happened, that’s when the father of lies, the king of death, the destroyer of men’s souls was himself destroyed.


     


    So the last line in the e-mail is exactly right, it is now our turn “to commend our spirits into His hands” and be transformed into His image. Jesus said, “The prince of this world is coming and he has nothing in me. Won’t it be wonderful when we like Jesus can say those same words. When the prince of this world can come, and find nothing within us that belongs to him, no pride, no fear and no greed, nothing to defend, because we have nothing left to defend. All we are, all we’ve ever been, and all we’ll ever be belongs to our God and savior, so the prince of this world will just have to take it up with Him.


     


    These are all just words and in themselves are as empty as an old movie, but if there is any reality in them, and we consume that reality, the nutrient of these words will help to remind us in our darkest hour, in our greatest need, to trust our God, and cast all our cares upon Him, because He loves us, and at every moment, He has our eternal well-being uppermost in his mind.


     


    Life is a two hundred percent reality, but I’ll get into that next time.


     


    BMcG

September 14, 2005

  • Thursday, September 15, 2005


    3.45 p.m. NZ time


     


    After Johnnie Bunch


     


     


      I was thirteen years old when Johnnie died. Then one day I overheard my mom talking with the family and it seemed Johnnie had left us with some very large gambling debts.  So we temporarily moved in with my aunt Dolly and her husband, Eddie Siroonian. Uncle Eddie, as I’ve called him all my life, became my Main Man; he was my father, my brother, my uncle and my best friend. No matter what happened in my life my uncle Eddie was always there when I needed him, always. To support the two of us and start to dig her way out of Johnnie’s gambling debts, my mom went back to work. She worked two and three jobs at the same time, ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day. I hardly ever saw her, so there was never enough time left over at the end of her day to handle my teenage energy.


     


      The following summer was the summer of 1949. Because of my mom’s work load, I went to stay with her brother, Eddie Warren and his wife Willa May. They had three sons, all older than me. Gene and Charles had already moved out to live on their own, but Phillip, just a year older than I was, still lived at home with his folks. That summer was one of the best summers I ever had. We did nothing, but we did everything. Eddie and Willa May lived way out in the country so for me every day was a great new adventure. There were acres of farmland, with large wooded areas. we found rivers and swimming holes where we went almost every day. Phil and I played and we fought. We made up games, daring each other to do the most stupid and dangerous things we could imagine. We rode our bicycles miles and miles just to see the latest cowboy movie. And as many young boys do, we discovered and experimented with our own sexuality. About mid-summer a Seventh Day Adventist preacher man started coming by to give my aunt and uncle Bible lessons.  And of course they made us come in, sit down and listen to the whole thing. All the charts and pictures and stories were pretty good, so we kinda’ looked forward to the days when the preacher man would come by.


     


      That Fall, the preacher, my mom, and my grandmother, along with all my aunts and uncles had a meeting and they all decided the best thing for me would be for my mom to enroll me in this brand new Seventh Day Adventist boarding school called Newbury Park Academy.


     


      Well, except for Johnnie’s funeral, I had never been to church before. I didn’t even know anybody who went to church. All I knew about the Bible, and the Ten Commandments, or the “Seventh Day Sabbath” were the things I’d learned from the Bible studies. I soon discovered that Seventh Day Adventists were really into those Old Testament laws and diets and stuff. Actually, I got quite excited about the possibility of going to a boarding school and learning more about all those wonderful, mysterious, spiritual realities.


     


      Because we were so broke, I wound up working in three or four different school departments to help my mom pay the school’s tuition. My room mate and I were up every morning at 5A.M. to milk about twenty cows. I used to skim the cream off of the top of the big, ten gallon milk cans, and take a quart jar of it up to breakfast every morning.  There’s just nothing like fresh cream on your cornflakes or your oatmeal to get your day started right. After the dairy, a quick shower and breakfast, I was off to my classes for the next six hours. I hated English, I loved auto shop.


     


    Then after school I worked on the farm until quitting time. The farm boss taught me how to drive everything, the WW2 jeep, all the farm trucks and tractors, as well as all the different pieces of farm equipment that went along with them. If it had wheels or tracks on it, I learned how to operate it. And we did it all, plowed, disked, harrowed, furrowed, irrigated, transplanted, dusted, and then harvested and shipped it to market. How I loved working the farm. 


     


    Each evening after dinner my friend Kelsey Hodge and I worked in the kitchen washing pots and pans. What a loud, laughing time we had. We took turns, one night I would wash and Kelsey would dry, the next night Kelsey would wash and I would dry. It didn’t matter who did what, it always ended up the same way, a huge water fight. We were constantly being told to stop splashing everyone and stop making so much noise. One of the girls told us they wanted to fire us, but because we scrubbed the pots and pans cleaner and faster than anyone they’d ever had working there, they couldn’t let us go.


     


    One of my more memorable experiences was when Donald McAleer and I were out for a Saturday afternoon hike. About three miles north of the school we discovered a deep canyon with a waterfall and a deep swimming hole. We tore off our clothes and in we went. Leaping off the big rocks, swimming under the falls, exploring the cliffs and the caves, it was an afternoon like you read about in books. Along about 5 o’clock we figured it was time for us to be heading on back to the school.


     


      We had stayed longer than we had intended, and we knew we would be late and we would be in trouble. So instead of going all the way back around the top end of the canyon, we decided to climb straight up the canyon wall and save at least thirty to forty minutes getting home. It was very, very steep. Some of the climb was straight up. But we took our time, being as careful as we could. I was going up first and Don was right behind me. I was spread out like a spider on a rock trying real hard not to fall off, and just as I was easing my way over the rim of the canyon, I was encouraging Don, telling him to be sure not to put all of his weight on any one point, and that we had made it, we were at the top. That’s when I heard a yelp and a rattle of stones, I turned to look and I saw Donald tumbling and bouncing his way down the face of the cliff.


     


      I felt so totally helpless, there was just nothing I could do except stand there and watch as Don disappeared into the rocks and trees so far below. I knew there was no way I could climb back down the way I had come up, so I ran as fast as I could, all the way back to the first steep gully that cut down into the canyon. I went crashing down through the trees and the bushes, running and leaping from stone to stone, over the fallen trees and tangled brush until I had worked my way down to where Don was lying in the rocks on the canyon floor. I was calling his name, Don, Don, are you all right? I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Then as I got closer I heard his broken whimpering voice, “Oh I’m hurt, I’m hurt, help me, help me”.


     


      When I reached him I could hardly believe my eyes, his face looked like raw hamburger meat. His body was torn and bleeding. I didn’t know what to do. I guess I should have told him not to move, and ran to get help, but I just couldn’t leave him there by himself. So I helped him get slowly to his feet, miraculously he didn’t have any broken arms or legs, although his jaw and a few ribs were broken but he could still walk. So I helped him as best as I could, half carrying him up and out of the canyon, constantly assuring him that he was going to make it all the way back to school, and we did, we made it. Off he went to the hospital while I got in trouble and had to explain to all the faculty members why we were late and what had happened. Later Don and my buddies treated me like some kind of a hero. But I always thought that Don was the hero; he was the one who fell off the cliff. He was the one who climbed up out of the canyon with two broken ribs and his jaw broken in three places. He was the one who went stumbling and bleeding the three miles back to school. I just happened to be there when it happened; I really had no choice in the matter.


     


      After a year or so at the Academy I had pretty well settled into the routine of things. My grades were good, I loved the different jobs I got to do, I had made some really great friends and all was going along quite well, until one fateful Friday afternoon when a new girl enrolled in school. She was a knockout. Tall and thin, with legs that went all the way from her ankles to her arm pits. I had never seen anyone like her. She had dark brown eyes and cascading sable hair that gave her a smoldering, mysterious look. I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. Like a moth to a flame, I was captured.


     


    Saturday evenings were the big play nights for the student body, with volley ball and roller skating, stuff like that. And of course there she was, the new girl, right in the middle of it all, and she was all that I could see. I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know what I said or how I did it, but somehow, at the end of the evening, I wound up walking her back to the girls’ dorm. She was eating an ice cream. And on the way we stepped into a shaded alcove to talk. We kissed. Her lips were freezing cold, wet and slippery sweet from the ice cream. What a kiss. Every cell in my body responded, expanding and bursting with the pure, all consuming pleasure of that kiss. I was totally addicted. I had never experienced anything like it in my life. I only knew I had to have more of that wonderful stuff. So I told her my room mate, Dave Totten, had a car and later on that evening he, his girl friend and I were going to sneak out and drive down to Santa Monica to visit some of their friends; I asked her if she would like to come along with us. To my great surprise and delight she said yes, she would love to come with us.


     


    Well I gotta tell you, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven because a lot of teenage hugging and kissing went on in the back seat of Dave’s car that night.


     


    We got back to our dorms in the wee hours of the morning. Climbing back into our room through the window, we checked on the piece of string we’d left stuck between the door and the jam. It was still there, so we knew our night out had gone undetected. We were safe. Or at least we thought we were. Dave and I had just enough time left to get changed into our working clothes and get our butts on down to the dairy.


     


    Because of our early morning milking schedule, Dave and I were always the last ones to arrive at the cafeteria for breakfast. And that morning as we walked in, we knew something was amiss. All the girls were giggling and staring at us. All, that is, except Dave’s girl friend and my date from the night before, because they weren’t at breakfast. Obviously something had gone horribly wrong because as soon as we sat down at our table, Mr. Will, the boys’ Dean, hurried over and informed us that our presence was immediately required in Mr. Rice’s office. Mr. Rice was the Principal, the President, the King of the school. There was no doubt about it, trouble had found us out. The girls had been caught sneaking back into their dorm, and they’d told their inquisitors what they had done, and who they’d done it with. Our goose was cooked, big time.


     


    As we walked into Mr. Rice’s office that Sunday morning, it seemed like the entire faculty was waiting there for us. They told me to go back out into the hall and wait there because they wanted to talk to David first. So I waited in the hall. I waited, and I waited and I waited. After what seemed like at least a week, or maybe even longer, they called me back into the office. Dave must have left by some other door because I never saw him again. They sat me down and told me how disappointed they were in me. They read me the riot act from cover to cover. They said I was nothing but a trouble maker and I had never followed the rules of the school.


     


    One of them said he had even seen me ‘chewing gum yesterday in church’. I knew that wasn’t true, because I hadn’t even gone to church the day before. I’d ditched church and stayed in my room all morning listening to a rhythm and blues station on my secret little radio, that I wasn’t supposed to have. But I couldn’t defend myself by telling them that, because the school rules said all the students were supposed to be in church on Saturday morning, and no one was allowed to have a radio in their room. So yes, I had to admit to myself that by not going to church and listening to my illegal radio, I had broken the rules, but I hadn’t chewed any gum like they were accusing me of, because I wasn’t even there. I thought to myself, ‘this phony, self- righteous, so called man of God, has just lied about me, and I can’t say anything to prove he was lying, because I would just further incriminate myself.’ But I knew in my heart ‘this guy has just broken his own rules, he’s just as big a rule breaker as I am.’


     


    Then they went on to say, if I would promise to never ever break any more rules, they would give me one more chance, and I could stay in school, but I would be on probation. So I told them I would do my very best, to never again break any more school rules, but I just couldn’t promise them that I wouldn’t, because I just might, I mean, I would do my absolute very best not to break them, but I just couldn’t make a promise to them that I might not be able to keep. I felt that was the best, the most honest answer I could possibly give them, but it wasn’t good enough for them, so they expelled me right on the spot, right then and there I was done for.


     


    I don’t know whatever happened to Dave or the girls, I never saw them again. The school called my mom that morning and told her to come and get her son. I wasn’t welcome there any longer because I was just a trouble maker and there was no room for trouble makers in their school. That was it; there was nothing more they could do for me, she would have to come that day, and take me away.


     


    That afternoon as my mom and I drove down the long driveway from Newbury Park Academy, I never looked back. More than ten years would pass before I would go into another church. My take on Christianity was, they’re all just a bunch of rule breaking, self righteous hypocrites who were demanding that I live by laws they don’t live by themselves. Who needs people like that with all those rules that nobody can keep anyway?


     


     


    That’s all for now.


    BMcG

September 10, 2005

  • Sunday, 11 September 2005


    10.10 a.m. NZ time


     


    SURRENDER TO LIFE


     


    I, myself, have only just in the last few weeks discovered that every hard and difficult experience, every painful, crushing adversity that has ever come my way, was a perfectly choreographed, tailor made moment. Each and every experience has been specifically designed to touch and reveal some area within me that needs to be released, so that I might grow into whatever it is that God has in mind for me to become. I find that when I am awake to what’s going on in and around me, and accept each situation as a gift from God, allowing His Holy Being to work it out through me, He is glorified, and I experience the miracle of His presence within me and around me.


     


    It seems to Mari and me, that whatever God provides for us to experience in this present moment, is the very nutrient our spirit needs to grow and be transformed into the image of Jesus. Reality itself is God’s soul food. Each living moment is another word in God’s language, speaking to us, directing our lives, writing His story through us, from one moment to the next. And as we stand poised and awake, ready to do whatever the present moment requires of us, we are at rest in Him, knowing all the while, it’s actually His Holy Spirit moving through us that does, or doesn’t do, what needs to be done or not done. It’s God within us that endures what needs to be endured.


     


    As we surrender our minds and bodies to Him, life becomes a free ride for us. We can sit in the Holy of Holies, one with the Father, one with the Son and one with the Holy Spirit. We can listen and watch them respond with their words and their actions to whatever the situation is that rises up around us.


     


    History is His story; we are just the writing instruments through which the ink of the Holy Spirit flows on to the parchment of time. If we are poised and awake to each moment, His story is written. If we are lost in our thoughts, fearing what might happen tomorrow, or regretting what we consider to be the missed opportunities of yesterday, our part in His story is not being recorded, and we end up with a life full of blank pages, because we weren’t awake to the drama of life as it was being played out all around us. We were lost in our thoughts and not awake to reality.


     


    I can remember the sarcastic laughter of people’s response to the words “Jesus saves” as they would reply “I didn’t know I was lost, yuck, yuck, yuck”. Well if we “knew” we were lost, we wouldn’t be lost would we. I mean do we know we’re asleep when we’re sleeping. I don’t think so. It’s not until we “wake up” that we “know” we were sleeping.


     


    We all know how impossible it would be to cram an entire cow into our mouth and swallow it in one gulp. So what do we do? We cut the cow up into bits small enough to cook and then serve it up on a plate. But you can’t stick a whole T-bone steak in your mouth either, so what do we do? We take our knife and fork and slice off a tiny bite sized piece that we can comfortably chew on. And that my friends, is exactly what this present moment is, a bite sized piece of His story. There’s no way our little pea brains could handle the entire history of mankind in one gulp.


     


    My wife says our lives are like a dot to dot panting and we don’t know what or where the next dot will be. Each dot is a moment, an experience, a word He is writing through our lives, and we don’t know how, what or where that next word is going to express itself. How exciting is that!


     


    To me reality has become the living words of God. So my friends let us wake up. Let us press into these living words of His story and not miss a single letter of this miraculous ride.


     


    Lately Mari and I have been talking about how most of us try so desperately to control our lives and our life situations.  But we have discovered over the years, since Jesus is our life, trying to control our life is like trying to control Him.  When we surrender to life and instead of trying to control it, allow it to control us, we are actually surrendering to Christ in us and around us and allowing Him to control and direct us.  So many people have asked us, “what is God’s will for my life?”  We have found for us, that God’s will for our lives is what IS.  We call the “isness” of life, the business of God. 


     


    Last week a friend of mine told me that at the end of the story everything will be all right, so if things aren’t all right; it’s not yet the end of His story.


     


    So let’s all of us wake up and smell the roses. 


     


    BMcG


     


     

August 26, 2005

  • Saturday, 27 August 2005


    12.30 p.m. NZ time


     


     


    THE PROMISE


     


    When I was nine years old, I lived on Lashbrook Avenue in El Monte California. It was an asphalt street with no sidewalks. There were ten or twelve guys who lived on my street. It’s funny but I didn’t know one girl who lived in my neighbourhood.


     


    Twenty five yards down from my house was the Rio Grande River. It was lined on both sides with miles of large trees, shrubs and acres of wild growing blackberries and grape vines. We invented dozens of games we would play down at the river. We would find a big tree; we’d all climb up into it, and then climb out to the very end of one of its branches. The game was to see how many of us kids it would take to break the branch off of the tree. Sometimes the branch would be so strong we would have to send one of us home to bring back a saw to start the break. Then CRACK, down we would go, screaming with fear, hanging on for dear life. The dogs would all be barking, we were all hollering, yelling and laughing. Then the branch would hit the ground, and it would bounce. Kids would be flying off in every direction. Then we’d just lay kind of quiet for a minute to see if anyone had broken anything, like an arm, or a leg or anything like that. Incredibly, that whole summer, no one ever got hurt, not real bad anyway. Oh there were bleeding knees and elbows, scratches and bruises everywhere, but no broken bones. Not one.


     


    Sometimes we would play King of the Mountain. We found an area in the woods where the grape vines had covered hundreds of square yards of trees.


    When we climbed up through the branches out on to the top of the tree, we discovered a huge grapevine safety net. Kinda like the nets trapeze artists use to keep them from hitting the ground when they fall. We would find the tallest tree in that area and then try to throw everyone else down from the top of that tree. The last one left standing at the top was the King of the Mountain, at least until we could climb back up and throw him off. The grapevine netting was so thick and so strong that we often forgot we were playing twenty or thirty feet above the ground. But occasionally someone would break through and disappear crashing down through the branches. When that happened, we would stop the game and all crawl over to look down through the hole where they had fallen to see if they were all right.


     


    One time I fell through myself. All summer long we never wore shirts or shoes, so when I fell down through the grapevine webbing wouldn’t you know, I fell right into a tangle of blackberry vines. There I lay, enveloped in the thorny embrace of Ma Blackberry, totally unable to move. Only my best friend, Marvin Richards, was willing to come climbing down through the branches, hanging by his knees he reached into my thorny prison of pain, and helped pull me out of the berry vines.


     


    Marvin and his brother Harold lived right across the street from me. Most everyday after school we would all get together in their front yard and play. We would play pirates, tag, hide and seek and sometimes we would just wrestle. One time while wrestling, we all wound up in a big heap. We’d been at it for an hour or more, so we were all totally worn out, just a big tangle of arms, legs, feet, heads, hands and dogs. We all had a dog in those days.  After a moment or two of just laying there, someone in the pile said, ‘You know, grownups don’t know how to do this any more’. ‘Yeah they’ve forgotten how to play’. ‘Yeah all they do is sit around and talk’, with one voice we altogether said ‘BORING!!!’. Then someone else said ‘Let’s never forget how to play’. So that afternoon we all made a promise to ourselves and to each other, no matter how old we got, no matter where life would take us, we would never, ever, forget how to play. I don’t know about the rest of the kids in that pile, I don’t know where they are or even if they’re still alive, it was sixty years ago. But I, for one, have never forgotten the promise we made. My wife and friends say I’m the oldest teenager they know. I love to play, always have, always will.


     


    Matthew 18:3  and He said ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’.


     


    When you’re walking with the Lord, you don’t get bored, sing hallelujah amen!


     


    That’s it for now.


    BMcG

August 20, 2005

  • Saturday, 20th August, 2005


    7.45 p.m. NZ time


     


    My First Step Dad


    John A. Bunch


     


     


    Sometime in 1942 my mom remarried. Her new husband’s  name was John Andrew Bunch. He was 27 years old, and my mom was 26. I don’t remember when I first met Johnnie. He just seemed, to all of a sudden, be there. He worked as a foreman for a large construction corporation, so we never lived in any one place too long. As soon as a job was finished we’d pack up and move on to the next building site.


     


    Johnnie’s father, ‘Dad Bunch’, as he was called by the family, was an old Texas outlaw kind of a guy. All shrivelled up and wrinkled, tough as barbed wire and smart like a fox. He drank his whisky straight, rolled his own Bull Durum cigarettes and lived well into his nineties. He loved to tell foul, dirty jokes just to embarrass us kids. He also loved playing the horses. I guess that’s where Johnnie learned all his social skills because one day he’d come home from the track with a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels and hundred dollar bills sticking out of his shirt pockets, and the next day we’d be borrowing money for groceries.


     


    Johnnie had two daughters, Nancy and Bonnie. Their mother, just like their dad, was also an alcoholic. So from time to time the girls would come and live with us. They were both older than me. Nancy was a sweetheart and treated me like I was truly her baby brother. Bonnie was stubborn and petulant and used to beat the crap out of me in front of my buddies. How embarrassing was that. One summer Nancy worked for ‘Dad Bunch’, saved her money, and bought me a bicycle, Bonnie beat me up, and that about summed up our relationships.


     


    By the time I was twelve years old my mother had caught up with Johnnie’s drinking habits, and drank herself right into full blown alcoholism. And of course the more they both drank, the more they fought. I mean screaming, cursing, fist punching, nose bleeding, eye blacking, head splitting fights. Then when they settled down a little bit, off they would go to the bedroom to have sex. So that was my role model for marital bliss, get stumbling drunk, have a bloody violent fight and then have sex. My mom and step dad were not happy campers.


     


    I became so filled with hatred toward Johnnie Bunch, for the alcohol and all the violence he had introduced into our lives, that I started working on a plan to murder him.


     


    Then one December day, I came home from school to find everyone all moaning and crying. My mother was sobbing with grief. I said mom, mom what’s the matter. She told me Johnnie had unexpectedly died. He was only thirty three. He was six feet two inches tall, strong and healthy as a horse. But he had an aneurism of some kind, and BAM he was gone. Outwardly I put on a good show of pretended sorrow and sadness, but inside I was shouting, “YES, you got what you deserved you drunken SOB, and you’ll never hurt my mother again.”  I did feel a bit guilty for being so happy that he was dead, but not so guilty as to nullify the relief I felt in knowing ‘he was gone’.


     


    But Johnnie did teach me a few good things that have served me well through the days my life. He taught me how to put on my socks and tie my shoe laces. And by watching him shave, I myself learned how to shave. He showed me how to make what I consider a delicious steak sauce. There are those who don’t care for it, but I love it, (like my wife.) It’s a three, two, one mixture. Three parts Hines ketchup, two parts A-1 steak sauce, and one part Lee & Perrins worcestershire sauce. YUMMY!


     


    And the two most wonderful lessons of all, he taught me how not to drink and how not to treat my wife. Thank you John, for being my teacher in the school of life, and now that I’m older I can understand how you had some deep issues of your own, that sadly you never got to work out.


     


    A friend of mine once told me, as we get older, even the enemies we had in our younger years eventually become our friends, because they were there and did all the things you did.  They walked the same streets, went to the same movies, drove the same kind of cars, ate the same food, and in some cases, even dated the same girls. And like it was with me and my step dad Johnnie, sometimes learning how not to be, and what not to do, is just as important, sometimes even more important than learning what we should do, and how we should act.


     


    That’s it for now.


     


    BMcG

August 11, 2005

  • Thursday, 11 August 2005


    7.15 p.m. NZ time


     


     


    MY FIRST GIRLFRIEND


     


    We had moved to East Los Angeles. My mom, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, my aunties and me, were all still one big happy family. Just two houses over from us there lived another family, the Thayers, Alvin, Phoebe and their four children, Beverly, Adrian, Holly and Jimmie. Our two families bonded as friends and remained in close relationship for the rest of their lives.


     


    At the time I was seven, Holly was about nine months older than me and Jimmie was around a year younger than me, so we spent endless days in our backyards playing together, digging holes and filling them up with water, making tiny little mud bricks and building little mud brick houses and bridges with lakes and rivers and roads. When you’re seven and eight, there’s nothing like a world of make believe. And of course one of our favourite games was hide and seek, and we played it almost every day.


     


    It was during one of those hide and seek games that Holly and I wound up hiding together in the bushes along the side of the house. It took whoever was “IT” at the time, a very long time to find us; so while we were lying there side by side, waiting to be discovered, we kissed. I don’t think we really knew what we were doing; but we’d seen grownups doing it, so we thought we’d give it a try.


     


    As I think back on that first kiss, it was kinda like kissing the back of my own hand; but there must have been some mysterious something about it because it made me feel very nice, and I thought I’d like to try it again. And I guess Holly must have had a similar experience because the very next time we went out looking for a place to hide, we went together, and we did try it again, and again and again. From that day on, for the next five or six years, I had a deep crush on Holly Thayer. Even when our families moved to different parts of Southern California, whenever they would get together, I would always try to get Holly away somewhere so we could continue with my kissing lessons.


     


    As the years went by our lives went in different directions. Finally we lost all contact with each other. Then one day I heard she was married, and that she had a family of her own. I can only pray that her life turned out as wondrously fulfilling as mine.


     


    But I do know this for sure, a fella never forgets his first kiss, or his first crush.  Thankyou Holly, for the wonderful childhood memory, you were my first.


     


    that’s all for now………


     

    BMcG

August 9, 2005

  • Wednesday, August 10, 2005


    11.30 a.m. NZ time


     


    Marie’s Birthday Weekend


     


    Mari and I just returned from a 4-day birthday weekend in Tauranga, New Zealand. For Mari’s birthday present, our friends, Lindsay and Lynne, booked us into a suite of rooms that opened onto a 4th floor balcony looking North East across the Pacific Ocean.


     


    We walked the beaches, combed the reef and explored the Mount. Even though it’s winter here in New Zealand, it was a gloriously sunny day. As evening came on we not only lost the sun, we lost the weather. Great black thunderheads came rolling in from the East and with them came the wind and the rain. The surf kicked up to about 6 feet, all choppy and broken up, exploding over the reef and the rocks, hammering the beach for the next 36 hours.


     


    Next morning was dark, heavy and wet. So we just stayed inside all day, dry and cosy, watching through the windows as the weather ripped at the trees and tried to tear down our building. I grabbed a big yellow pillow and a good book and took command of one of the couches. Lindsay was in total control of the other couch, reading three different newspapers at the same time and the girls played cards all afternoon.


     


    That evening Kevin and Nicola showed up with their two children, along with a huge amount of Mediterranean take-away. We watched The Rat Race on a DVD as we consumed almost all the food. I gotta say it’s really hard to eat and laugh at the same time, quite messy and sometimes dangerous. After the movie, Kevin, Nicola and the kids were off to their rooms and we shut it down for the night. Before bed, I opened the window in our room just a tiny bit so I could hear the wind, the rain, and the sea brawling their way through the night.


     


    Next morning was clear, clean and spectacular. We took another walk out onto the reef. We spent some time watching the surfers chasing the big swells left over from the day before. The girls went shopping while Lindsay and I cruised the book stores. I stopped to listen to a twelve year old boy named Matthew, busking on the street. He was very good and I couldn’t help but wonder about the life that was stretching out in front of him. Lindsay and I wound up having coffee along with a couple of slices of pear and custard pie. Yummy! The girls showed up just in time to finish off our pie, and we headed on back to our hotel. That night was Lamb Shanks and Taco Salad. Stuart, a friend of Lynn and Lindsay showed up for dinner and we all watched Frequency on another DVD. I went to sleep on the couch and woke up in the middle of a gardening show called “Mucking In”, said good night to everybody and went to bed. It had been a wonderful, laid back, holiday day.


     


    Next day was check out time.


     


    Lindsay got a little 4 wheel cart up to the 4th floor to put all our luggage on. The cart wasn’t very big, and I had our stuff stacked up on it so high it couldn’t hold any more. Then off we went down the hall to the elevator. Lindsay was walking in front of me with both his hands holding a stainless steel serving tray all stacked up high with books and newspapers.  I was following along behind, being as careful as I could so as not to spill any of my stuff off the cart. So when we got to the elevator I pushed the button. And when the door slid open I gently started pushing the cart into the elevator. But not quite gently enough, for as soon as the cart’s front wheels hit the threshold of the elevator door, the cart stopped dead, and all the stuff, suitcases, carryon bags, DVD player, boxes of food and bottles of soda pop, and my ukulele, all went sliding off into the elevator.


     


    About that time Mari showed up on her way down to the dumpster with several plastic bags full of trash. She took one look at our situation and said “I think I’ll take the stairs”, and off she went.


     


    Lindsay and I both started laughing; we just couldn’t believe what had just happened. I jumped into the elevator and started piling stuff back on the cart. Lindsay’s hands were still full so he used his hip to help push the cart on into the elevator. I pushed the Ground Floor button, the door slid shut and down we went. Stuff seemed to be falling off of the cart as fast as I could put it back on. Then the elevator stopped and the door slid open. Lindsay, arms still being full, backed out of the elevator trying to help me by pulling the cart with his elbow. I was still busy trying to pick up stuff off the elevator floor and throw it into the hall and onto the cart. As I turned around to get the last item, my ukulele, I felt the elevator door close on my backside. I couldn’t believe Lindsay would let the door close while I was still in the elevator, so I started pushing the button, trying to open the door, it wasn’t working. I kept jabbing at it with my finger, nothing!  Then I noticed the Ground Floor button was still shining red so I started pushing it. At first it didn’t work either, I was hollering, laughing and yelling, “Lindsay… what’s going on, open the door”. Just then the door started to open.   As it did, I looked up expecting to see Lindsay with the cart and all our stuff, but instead, there stood my wife, with her hands full of trash bags, and we both spoke at the same time, saying “Where’s Lindsay”. I said, “isn’t he here with you?” She said, “No, he was in the elevator with you”…. “No, he just got out with all our stuff.”…. “He didn’t get out here.”…. “Well, where could he be?” I said over my shoulder, as I walked out into the parking garage, thinking he might already be at the car.  No Lindsay.  I walked to the front desk, thinking he might be there checking out.  Not there.


     


    I was walking around the parking garage dumbfounded; mumbling to my self, “Where in the world could he be?” Mari was over at the dumpster, yelling at me across the floor, “Where in the world could he be?”


     


    Then it finally dawned on me, we must have stopped and got out on the first floor. When the door closed the elevator ran so smooth; I didn’t even feel it moving. I then realized, that’s why the door wouldn’t open when I was jabbing at all those buttons, the elevator was moving on down to the ground floor. Then I thought about Lindsay standing there with the cart, all our boxes, bags and suitcases, hands still full of stuff, watching the elevator door slide shut and then hear it drop on down the shaft, and I started roaring with laughter.


     


    Mari, having just finished unloading our trash in the dumpster, came over to me and started laughing at me laughing. She asked me “What’s so funny, what’s going on?”  As I tried to tell her, I started laughing even harder, so hard I could barely speak, but at last I was able to blurt out the story of what had actually happened. Seeing it all in her mind, she erupted into a fit of uncontrolled laughter. I was laughing so hard I had to lean against the wall to keep from falling down. And right at that moment, Lindsay comes out of the elevator pushing the cart with his elbows ‘cause now his arms are even more full of stuff, and with a silly grin on his face he’s saying “Hey, where did everybody go?” 


     


    Well, that did it. That was the final feather. That put us all away. Mari and I both came totally undone with laughter. We laughed and laughed as Lindsay told us about his experience on the first floor; how he had reloaded the cart, only to have it all fall off again as he tried to push it back onto the elevator. By the time Lynne came down and asked “What’s going on”? Mari, Lindsay and I were totally useless with laughter. Having laughed so hard for so long we could barely explain to her what we had just been through. As we tried to tell Lynne what had just happened, we would explode into even more waves of rolling laughter. On and on it went until finally, with the car loaded up, out on the highway, still chuckling occasionally as we thought about how wonderfully stupid and funny it had all been, we settled into the long, and comfortable ride home. Lynne’s only response to our profoundly funny experience was, “Oh you guys”…… I guess you just had to be there.


     


    That was a birthday weekend we will never forget. Mari and I have been married for 32 years, and never in all that time, have we ever enjoyed a laugh like that.


     


    Happy Birthday honey, and may we have many more.


     


    That’s all for now.


     


    BMcG

August 3, 2005

  • Thursday, 4 August 2005


    10.00 a.m. NZ time


     


    My Grandmother Lucy


     


     


    When I was growing up we always had chickens in our backyard. Always had fresh eggs and occasionally we would have fried chicken. I still love fried chicken. But one day I was out watching my grandmother in the chicken coop; she was chasing the chickens all around their pen until finally she caught one. I didn’t know what she was up to, so I was watching her real close. She came out of the chicken yard, locked the gate, took that chicken’s head in her right hand, and started spinning that chicken, flip, flip, flip and flammo, she flung that chicken half way across the backyard. Then she dropped the chicken’s head in a bucket and went back into the house.


     


    I thought, “wait a minute here,” and I ran over looking into the bucket.  There it was, the chicken’s head, still blinking its eyes. I mean I could still see the chicken over on the other side of the yard, all flapping its wings and scratching in the dirt, kicking up dust and stuff. So I picked the chicken’s head up out of the bucket, ran over to where its body was flopping around and tried to stick the chicken’s head back on its neck. I thought, “grandmother broke the chicken,” so I was trying to fix it back the way it was. But it wouldn’t stick on, it just kept falling off. It wasn’t blinking its eyes any more, and it finally stopped flapping and twitching.


     


    About that time my grandmother came out with a bigger bucket, filled with scalding hot water, picked up the chicken by its feet and dunked it down into that scalding water. Then she pulled it out of the water and started ripping the feathers off in big handfuls. It wasn’t long before the chicken didn’t have a feather left on its body. Then she took a sharp kitchen knife and sliced open the chicken’s stomach, out came all this weird looking stuff and she dumped it into the bucket the head had been in. Later she dug a hole and buried it somewhere out along the back fence.


     


    That was the last I saw of the chicken until that evening when I sat down at the dinner table, and there she was, all toasty golden brown, surrounded with bowls and platters filled with smashed potatoes and gravy, string beans and corn on the cob, a big tossed green salad and my grandmother’s fresh baked apple pie.


     


    I loved my grandmother, she could do anything. I carry her memory in my heart, she is a part of who I am, but someday, in the not too distant future, I know I’ll get to see her again. Is that cool or what?


     


    There’s lots more stories, but that’s it for today.


     


    I’ll be back ………… (Maybe)


     


    BMcG

August 2, 2005

  • Tuesday, 2 August 2005


    8.30 a.m. NZ time


     


    It poured down rain all last night, but today the sun is sparkling off the sea, bouncing around the trees, throwing rainbow prisms of colour that go ricocheting off the wet, dripping leaves, right into my eyes. What a glorious moment to be alive.


     


    As I stood there, soaking it all into my being, I had a couple of thoughts. And a few minutes later when my daughter called to wish her mom a happy birthday, (today is my wife’s birthday) I was sharing those thoughts with her. Then she said, I should post these thoughts on my blog page.


     


    So here they are. Nearly every person living in the world today has heard at one time or another, a radio broadcast. Now I know there are those who, because of where they were born and where now they live, have never heard a radio broadcast. But those folks probably won’t have access to this blog page anyway, so I won’t be including them in my little group of radio listeners.


     


    So, my first thought was how a radio broadcast is a means, or form of communication. Science tells us that our universe came into existence as a result of a “Big Bang”. Scriptures tell us that our universe was spoken into being when God said, “Let there be light.”  I believe that as a result of God’s spoken words, there was a “Big Bang”, and the whole universe was blown into existence.


     


    Now to me, speaking words is a form of communication. And broadcasting them is a way to reach as many people as possible. So I thought of the universe, as nothing more than an archive storage unit, containing the broadcast recordings of every infinitesimal event that has ever occurred since the “Big Bang” until this present instant. Wow, what a show!


     


    So it’s all there isn’t it, every act, every word, even our thoughts and our dreams, all recorded in stereophonic sound and living colour on God’s great recording machine “the Universe”.


     


    That was my first thought; But then came, what was for me, a truly wonderful thought.


     


    The programme is still going on. It’s still being broadcast and the ID letters are, REALITY 101 on our awareness dial. The way we tune in is by surrendering to this present moment.


     


    The reason I believe the “Big Bang” show has not finished and is still being broadcast, is simply because every particle in the universe is in a state of constant change. Where every particle is located at this instant, has never before been in its present position, and it keeps on moving. It’s alive. This present moment is a living thing. It changes its shape every split nano- second. And I find that when I surrender to this ever changing reality, I change with it. I grow, I become whatever it is that God has in mind for me to become. When I don’t surrender, when I don’t let go of the past, of yesterday, or even yestersecond, I become stuck, frozen in the graveyard of time.


     


    The other day Mari and I were talking about how most people are all trying to control their lives. We thought back over the years, on how when we first started surrendering the control of our life and began to let IT control us, things within us started to change. The situations were still the same, but in a state of surrender, our old responses of fear and control were no longer necessary. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, and in our surrender to life, we discovered that life itself (Jesus) loves us very much and loves to provide us with whatever it is we need to grow and to become like Christ.


     


    We discovered that for us it wasn’t going to church or reading the Bible and memorizing scriptures, it wasn’t fellowship or prayer or prayer meetings that produced any spiritual growth within us, although God did use all of these things, these structures and forms, to point us in His direction. All of these things have been like sign posts directing us along the way. Not one of them, in themselves has brought about any spiritual growth within us. But what they did do for us was introduce us to “Reality”. We have found that “Reality” is the only FOOD that feeds our spirits. When we press into the sacred presence of Christ, found within the “Reality” of each precious moment, when we surrender to the tailor made “Reality” that God, Himself has prepared for us to experience, we live and breathe and have our being in a continuous consumption of His Being. Eating “Reality” is like living in a constant state of receiving communion, a constant state of prayer, a constant state of change and growth.


     


    “Reality” itself is His blood, His body, His sacrament, His spiritual food for our soul.


     


    So those were my thoughts this morning, which are for me truly wonderful thoughts. The programme is still going on. It’s still being broadcast and the ID letters always have and always will be, REALITY 101 on our awareness dial. The banquet is still being served; and the way we tune into the right frequency and receive this life-changing food is by surrendering to the sacrament of this present moment. Jesus Christ Himself.


     


    It’s just a couple a thoughts I had this morning, so what do you think?


    Email me.


     


    BMcG


     


    I’ll be back ………… (Maybe)