What Others Say

Just a note to thank you for your wonderful weekly columns in the Galveston Paper.
To open a newspaper and see references to God, Scriptures, Kindness, Peace, Loving one another is what our whole world needs now more than ever. -John D. Galveston, Texas

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Same Kind of Different As Me

Same Kind of Different As Me opens in movie theaters this week on October 20.  I first stumbled across the story in 2010 when my son-in-law suggested it to me.  The book had been out since 2005, a true story that bridges the social and racial divisions of our day.

Maybe I was drawn to the book because Ron Hall spent his childhood summers on a farm near my boyhood home of Corsicana Texas. His descriptions of Corsicana resonated with my memories growing up on Collin Street, one of the signature brick streets that reflect the glory days when the city boasted more millionaires per capita than any other town in Texas. Maybe I was drawn to the book because Ron and Denver intersect in the slums of Fort Worth east of downtown where my wife started her teaching career forty years ago.

Same Kind of Different As Me is actually two stories. One, the story of an illiterate black man named Denver who was raised in the cotton fields of Louisiana and ended up homeless on the streets of Fort Worth. The other, an upwardly mobile white man named Ron Hall who graduated from TCU and made a fortune in the art world. They each tell their story, and the remarkable intersection of their journeys.

But the true stories of Ron Hall and Denver Moore are not the main stories in the book. They represent other stories: the story of our country and its culture. Ron represents those who rise from middle class with professional opportunities that can lead to great wealth. He also represents the dangers of that path that include temptations for greed, materialism, shallow and broken relationships. Denver represents the alarmingly huge segment of our population that falls between the cracks, victims of prejudice, oppression, injustice and neglect. He also represents the dangers of that downward spiral that includes temptations of bitterness, anger, isolation and despair.

The greatest story underlying and connecting all of these is God’s story. Ron’s wife, Deborah is the entry point for His work, one person who was open, willing and obedient. She became the catalyst for connecting these two broken men from different ends of the social spectrum.

In a day when many look to government to heal our wounds and solve our social problems, Same Kind of Different As Me serves as a reminder that the real solution to our personal and social problems lies within us. It is often buried beneath our own prejudices and fears, but it can be unlocked and released with the keys of acceptance, trust, faith and love, all the things Jesus demonstrated and talked about.

God wants to use each of us, whatever our race, whatever our circumstance, whatever our background to make a difference in the world. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Life's Seasons

Two weeks ago we visited Rocky Mountain National Park.  The elk were everywhere. Their bugle echoed through the hills.  Peaceful cows grazed in the meadows under the watchful eye of the antlered-bull that gathered them for mating season.  Through winter and summer they disappear into the vast forests, but, in the fall, when the Aspen tinge the mountain slopes with yellow, they appear, bold and fearless. They have been doing this for thousands of years, long before humans wandered these valleys.

All of nature is synchronized with the seasons.  The geese fill the skies with wind singing in their wings.  Monarch butterflies migrate from Canada to Mexico. The maple, oak and sumac fire the hills with crimson and gold preparing the way for vast white blankets of snow.  

Our concrete, plastic and glass world attempts to insulate us from nature’s rhythms.  So do our drugs. They deaden our souls and our senses.  We are more alive when we connect with the rhythms God has built into his creation. The changing seasons seek to awaken us, to remind us that the same creative power that painted the mountains and designed the migrations of the birds also created us.   

All of life is lived in seasons, from birth to death. Each is made for celebration, for life and learning and loving: playful childhood, visionary youth, responsible adulthood, reflective old age.  The seasons of life fill our souls with songs of faith, love, hope, joy and sorrow. We all experience seasons of health and seasons of illness, seasons of plenty and seasons of lack, seasons of pain and seasons of joy. 

Ecclesiasts puts it best:  “There is a time for everything,  and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes  3:1-8).


In all of our seasons we can celebrate God’s presence as our Creator and sustainer, the savior of our soul. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Forever Friends

We spent last week near Vail, Colorado with another couple. The mountains were ablaze with golden Aspen, a great place for reflection in our “golden” years.  We were young when we first met.  My wife and the other two were fresh from high school graduations in Texas and Kentucky.  I was older and wiser by two years. 

After we married, we gathered in each other’s apartments as penniless newly-weds and played games, affordable and unforgettable entertainment. Our paths parted when we started our families. Identical twin girls for them, three children stretched over 13 years for us.  We stayed in touch at a distance.

Fifty years later, our children are grown.  They are advancing in their careers and raising our grandchildren.  We have completed most of our journey, in good health and full of memories, hoping to remain useful and finish well.

We are thrilled to make new friends for whom we are grateful, but we shared our youth with these friends when we were trying to figure out our own identity and had little idea of the direction our paths would take. We have other friends from our childhoods and our careers whom we love.  Some drifted away.  Some died. But this couple stuck.  Nothing can reproduce the treasure we have found. 
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And now that we have re-converged in the late years of our journey we are overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s goodness and grace.  We are more content than we were in our youth. We are still ambitious to do good and to bless others, but we know we are blessed beyond measure in ways we could have never imagined. Only God could do such a thing.

Friendship gives us a glimpse of the relationship God desires for each of us.  As Proverbs says, “There is a friend that stays closer than a brother.”  (Proverbs 18:24).

After three years walking the hills of Galilee and Judea, Jesus explained his relationship with the twelve in these terms:   “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:13-15).


No matter who we are or where we came from; no matter our race, gender or age, God desires to be our friend. He desires to lead us on our journey, from beginning to end.  An old hymn perhaps expresses it best, “I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!   He loved me ere I knew Him; He drew me with the cords of love,   and thus He bound me to Him. And round my heart still closely twine, those ties which naught can sever. For I am His, and He is mine, forever and forever.”