Pastor Wrinkles: House On Fire Pt. 1

I was recently charged with the responsibility of holding a discussion class on the book of Acts over a twelve week period. Some of my readers have asked if I could share the class as an on-line discussion because they could not make it out to the Wednesday night talk backs. I have never tried such a thing before; But I figure, what’s to be lost by giving it the old college heave-ho? So let’s all have a discussion on the book of Acts shall we?

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:1-8 NIV

Some quick notes as we begin:

The Book of Acts is addressed to Theophilus which basically translates “God lover” or  “Friend of God”. He could have been a real person or maybe the book is simply addressed to any person who loves God.

The Book is officially entitled The Acts of the Apostles, but it is important to note  the chief actor in the book is the Holy Spirit through the apostles.

The author of this book is traditionally accepted as Luke the physician who accompanied the apostle Paul on his missionary journey. This is the testimony of the early church fathers: Eusebius, Clement, Origen, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. Further both the Gospel of Luke and Acts are addressed to Theophilus seeming to make them two parts of a whole.

The book is dated to around 63 A.D. and covers the span of time from around 33- 63 A.D. when Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Neither Paul’s death (65 A.D.) or the fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.) are mentioned.

Here is my first question for discussion:

Acts 1:1-8 mentions that Jesus taught many things after his resurrection. We see some of these teachings in Acts 1:1-8/ John 20:19-21:23/ Luke 24:13-49/ Mark 16:9-20/ Ma 28:16-18

Create a list of  things you see Jesus teaching post resurrection. If you could only sit in on one of these teaching which would you choose? Why?

I will give you a few days to ponder this first question before I post the next. I look forward to our discussion. 🙂

Friday Fictioneers: 7-26-13

Copyright - Douglas M. MacIlroy

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”-Henry David Thoureau

So this week I decided to try a ride with the Friday Fictioneers! You can find out more about them by going to

Here is my 100 word story!

The Hyangadi Tide

I watched as the Hyangadi Tide made its way across the Dead Mountains. . This thick band of mist that spanned the poles of our desert planet had come again as it had every two months since we had arrived here twenty years ago.

            My frown deepened until I could feel it scratch the dry cracked corners of my mouth.

The moisture gatherer at my side,our only salvation, sat quiet like the rest of the sleeping village below.  I pressed the ignition once more. Nothing.

We were all in God’s hands now.

The Celebrant: This Was Us Pt. 4


Left side of the sanctuary six pews from the front just beside the stained glass window of Jesus in the temple. That was where our family sat every Sunday after Adam insisted we start going to church. He was none too keen on Polly becoming a Jesuscizer until she started bringing home the church ladies for tea. When he realized that most of these ladies were Winchendon’s society dames and that all their husbands perched in the spreading limbs of the First Baptist Church he was quick to join the flock.

I can still remember the first Sunday we all went to church together.  Adam sat by the sunny painted Jesus in the window. Paul was beside him. Mother sat between my brother and me. I was next to the church lady with the big feathers in her purple hat who smelled of Ben Gay and face powder.

Paul and I got coloring books again.

“Momma I’ve already colored this one?” I said as I thumbed through the same book I had been given the day mother visited Doris.

Adam leaned across the pew and shushed my face. I felt the little sprinkles of his spittle tickle my eyelashes. Mother flashed him a cross look that quickly melted under his glare.

“Well why don’t you just use the inside covers and color Momma some pictures of the pretty windows Natty?” She patted my hand.

I put  my head down and nodded. I blinked fast to get the spittle out of my eyes before Adam could call it tears. He had a thing about boys crying especially in public.

I glanced over at Paul who was viciously scribbling his second page with one brown crayon. Then I looked around for other children and noticed that many of them were engaged in the same race to cover their coloring books with as much crayon as they could. Some wielded blue crayons. Some red. One little girl had even brought her own markers and was blacking in the eyes of every picture in the book. I turned to the front inside cover of my book and carefully drew a rectangle in brown crayon.

The service began. My family stood. I sat engrossed in the triangles and squares that made up the temple around the boy Jesus. Three hymns passed and I was working on the faces of the doctors who questioned Jesus (though I didn’t know that’s what they were at the time). The offering plate slipped by and all I noticed was that the green of the money was the same color as the table-cloth depicted in the window. Doris preached. I colored. Doris gave an invitation for people to come down to the altar. I was coloring the walls around the window.

“Come on!” Adam said grabbing my hand.

He took me and my brother forward. Mother trailed behind tears in her eyes. Doris beamed.

An older man approached and drew my father away from the family. Doris began to lead the congregation in Amazing Grace.

I smelled Ben Gay. My mother and the church lady took my brother and I aside. Mom held my hand as the church lady talked with Paul. He was almost seven. He watched my father praying in the corner and nodded his head as the lady asked him questions. He bowed his head and prayed with her. My mother wept as two of her men joined her in Jesus. I held my picture close to my chest as the church applauded.

The service ended and we began to make our way out of the church. People kept stopping us.

They would shake my father’s hand and say things like “Welcome to the family Adam.”

Paul was swept away by a group of children who wanted to bask in his altar-made- celebrity.

I held my coloring book up to my mother, “See Momma. I finished the window just like you said.”

“So you did baby boy! It’s beautiful!” She gushed hugging me.

That was the day I fell in love with art.

Pastor Wrinkles: Socks With Sandals

I admit I am a bit of a rebel…at least when it comes to foot wear. I find myself bucking the conventions of podiatric propriety all the time. I wear socks with sandals on a regular basis 100_2902

 and I almost always wear white socks with my black suit and dress shoes.

Pastors by definition live in a fish bowl. Our lives are open for all to see and criticize down to the finest detail (even our footwear believe it or not). Right or wrong, it’s a part of the vocation we all learn to live with and pattern our lives around.  I suppose how I choose to dress my feet is my little way of sticking it to the man. 🙂

All kidding aside though, we all “wear socks with sandals” in certain areas of our lives.  There are  things each of us have decided we are just going to be stubborn about. Sometimes our stubborn streaks are given to nothing more serious than wearing socks with sandals or whether or not we will eat broccoli. Yet there are also times when we pitch the battle flag on more serious hills and determine that no matter what people say, come hell or high water, we aren’t giving ground.

When our nonnegotiables are based around biblical holiness we should keep them no matter what people say; But there are times when our nonnegotiables  flaunt Scripture and God’s purposes. We know it. We recognize it. Our best friends and even our pastors are warning us off and yet we still insist on “socks with sandals” even after God has told us to get with His fashion trend.

My question to you today is:

What area of your life is a “socks with sandals” area?

Is your stubbornness healthy or self-destructive?

If it is self-destructive what are you going to do about it?

Shopping Away Forever

“This post is written for the 110 Creative Challenge Contest, hosted by Thewhitescape

The Pharmacopus doffed his cap as Faerie entered the store. Her silver bells jangled in acknowledgement of the welcome.  Faeries were seldom seen shopping in this part of Forever. At the back of the store a  Humbug fluttered its black wings in disgust.

“Pooh.” Faerie said.

The Humbug melted  becoming some child’s nightmare in the Sensed world.

She found what she sought in the deadly toxins aisle. Her silvery hand bent to the bottle marked “Faerie-Graying”.

She paid with her silver bells.

“You know what this does?” Pharmacopus asked.

Faerie nodded, then smiled.

Outside the store she drank the whole bottle. Forever faded away and Somewhere a baby was born.

The Celebrant: This Was Us Pt. 3

My mother was the first “Jesuscizer” in the family; But it all really started with Dr. Seuss.

We moved from Ayer when I was three. Adam worked carpentry  in those days and had become something of a tool specialist. When an opportunity came to buy a small hardware business in the town of Winchedon forty-five minutes north, he packed us up and followed the call of Abraham. Mother was not so happy to move away from all she had known. Ayer was home and a fairly prosperous one for her. While Adam scraped and grabbed all his life for every morsel he could salvage Polly Dahlstrom grew up with at least a brass spoon in her mouth. My grandfather on that side was a banker. His wife was the proverbial stay at home mom who engaged in bridge and woman’s club. My mother  was sweet sixteen all through high school: Captain of the cheer leading squad, home-coming princess and then queen.

My father was not her first pick but when high school ended so did my mother’s magical control over the world. She went from being the big fish in a small pond to being the shrinking violet at Fitchburg State College where she went to become a kindergarten teacher. She met Adam Dahlstrom after she graduated from college Cum Laude. The September after graduation she was working at Marshalls to keep her father happy. Adam was working at Marshalls on weekends, The Sentinel and Enterprise  as a press man during the week and cleaning office buildings nights to keep the other bankers happy. My grandfather liked Adam’s industry. So Polly married Adam the following fall just as she began a career in the Ayer Elementary school system.

Adam was magically hired on by one of the leading builders in the Acton area. Mother was ready to settle into an idyllic life in the shadow of her parents. Adam it turned out liked full sun so when his opportunity came he moved himself out from under the spreading chestnut tree that was my grandfather and headed north. Winchendon was a town with no small reputation. Polly’s parents protested. Adam ignored them.

I remember my third year mostly because my mother spent the better part of it crying. On my fourth birthday my grandparents came to visit and they brought me a new book by Dr. Seuss, who it turns out was a friend of an acquaintance. Gramps managed to procure a signed copy of The Cat in the Hat and presented it to me after the chocolate cake.

That night as mother was putting me to bed she brought the book to my bedside. Smoothing down the covers she seated herself next to me and cracked the spine of the big book and read the dedication to me.

“Dear Nathan, Always remember no matter what happens in life Don’t be sad that it’s over. Smile that it happened.” Theodore Seuss Geisel. 1979

Mother read the whole story to me. I remember she had to blow her nose several times  interrupting the shenanigans of  Thing One and Thing Two. The next morning she towed me and Paul to the Baptist Church across from the drug store uptown.  She set us up with coloring books and crayons and set herself down to speak with the pastor, a gray-haired woman who called herself Doris.

Paul and I finished two coloring books a piece and several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which Doris produced from her over-sized black purse as if by magic. The shadows were growing long before Mom and Doris said their final a-men and from that time forward Mom was a Christian, a true- blue Jesuscizer. With her it was never really an insult though. Polly meant her faith. It didn’t smack of the tin can rattling beggary I was later to see in so many others. I think that’s probably because she made the choice for herself not for someone else. She owned her faith and in the end that made all the difference.

The Celebrant: This Was Us Pt.2

In case you missed it here is The Celebrant Pt. 1


In the dark I heard the shrieking wail of metal on metal. I felt the clacking thunder shudder my rib cage. The air smelled of sulfur,  pine pitch and summer sweat.  I gagged as blood and vomit expelled themselves from deep inside my gut.  I sat bolt upright in bed as the darkness of my dream dissipated in the comparative light of midnight. My fingers explored the heavy covers around me expecting to touch upchuck that would insist  some part of my dream had been true. Finding nothing I drank in the air through my runny nose. The sulfur and the pitch were well gone and all I could smell in the air was the lemon of furniture polish and the itchy fragrance of white linen treated with Clorox.

The dream had plagued me all my life. It came more frequently during my times of high nerve, which means it visited more as I advanced into my teen years. The nightmare paralleled two things:  my downward spiraling relationship with Adam and every outbreak of zits. The latter would have been natural enough, I suppose. I know of no teen-age boy whose vanity is unaffected by the plague of youth. All of us react differently. My brother,  Paul, shaved the zits off his face religiously and pushed it off to old razor blades. I dreamed of life’s train running me down in the dark, engineered by a father who refused to accept me.

The fact that Adam did not love me nor I him was absolutely not natural. I wanted to connect to him but just couldn’t. To say that  our relationship was unnatural is not to say that it was uncommon. I know I am one of many who have lost their dad’s long before they died.  The bogey man of alienation comes to us all; But the fact that so many of us allow the love that should be between a father and a son to be totally consumed by differences, that is unnatural.

I spent years wondering how Adam became the driving force behind my nightmare rather than my savior from the repetitive terror. I worked through a very complicated web of differences that played out between us: He was a conservative  business man.  I was a teen-aged socialist. He was a man’s man, an arm-chair quarterback, a died in the wool sportsman and I was what my brother liked to call a band fag. Add to that my penchant for calling out every little hypocrisy I saw in my father’s church and how could we not have been at odd’s. But after many years of searching I at last found the hinge that the door of our separation hung on. It lived  in my ten-year old memory. Oddly, it all came back to the Fruitlands where my mother told me her story of the night I was born.

“That whistle was blowing the night you were born Natty. It made me glad to know we weren’t alone. All I could think as I pushed you out was how here we were in the middle of nowhere and there not 300 yards away was a whole train load of people watching me give birth.”

Adam harumphed as she finished, “It just creeped me out.”

Like most walls ours was built on a foundation of agreement.