Tongues on Interstate 5

Tongues on Interstate 5

The gifts of the Spirit were expounded in the teachings from the pulpit, both at the Lutheran church where we first began our journey in this deepening relationship with God, and at Crossroads, the Christian community church into which the Lord soon placed us.

Probably the most controversial gift of the several gifts of the Spirit has been (and perhaps always will be)  that of ’speaking in tongues.’ First, controversial to those on the outside of the church- who view the phenomenon as simply ‘crazy,’ and then on the inside of the church itself, falling along sectarian divisions, running the gamut from acceptance on one end to repudiation at the other. (I feel you can judge the degree of acceptance, based upon the corresponding degree of veneration for the Word of God).

[Aside – Of course there can be problems with the high degree of acceptance on both scales, if they conclude that “speaking in tongues” is the sign of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, leading to a doctrinal conclusion (I believe falsely), that you are not a Christian unless you speak in tongues. That is simply not the case, and Scripture does not support that particular conclusion.]

Against this background understanding I was led to seek what this meant for me. From the time that I invited Jesus Christ to be Lord of my life, I felt a presence physically. Though nothing visibly touched me, there was something about these experiences that gave the sensation of touch. I can only describe it as something similar to when someone comes up beside you, out of the range of your vision, yet you feel their presence, palpably. Most times it is strongest during worship and my body reacts physically to the weight of the presence.

So, I had no doubts that the Holy Spirit was pleased to dwell in me. This, coming from the simple belief that if you accepted Christ into your heart, you have the Holy Spirit, for that was (and is) His promise. I had seen the operation of some of the other gifts via others and through myself (perhaps, more on this at a later date), but as to ‘tongues,’ I was waiting.

I do not recall that it was right away. There was a bit of time between my learning about such things and my direct experience of them.

I did not note down the day, for I did not keep a journal at that time. But I do know what I was doing and what happened.

I was on my way to work – alone, driving down Interstate-5 to Portland. I must have been praying, with my eyes open, of course. Anyway I felt the presence of the Lord. And I wanted to thank and praise Him for His nearness. I opened my mouth to do this and instead of expressing my thoughts in English, another language flowed effortlessly from my lips. Actually I was singing in this foreign language.The realization dawned on me slowly that I was singing in French, and the words were celebrating the elements of communion.

As those of you who have read pertinent posts in my blog, you know that my major in college was French. I can state that I am more fluent in reading French texts, than trying to speak it in conversation. Even then it is halting as I have to go through the process of selecting the words to express my ideas. Such was not the case here, that part of the control center of my brain was bypassed.

As I continued to sing, the French dropped away, and something new was substituted in its place. I felt as if my very spirit within was expressing my adoration towards the Lord in a direct one to one correlation. A language that I can only describe as that which is obliquely referred to in Scripture as “tongues of angels.”

I believe this latter experience to be what the Apostle Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 14 as that use of a tongue, without the interpretation, and is for the edification of the one speaking. It was for my benefit.

And as I am writing this it is with a renewed realization of the work of the Lord in my life to make me into the man he created me to be, for the work he has called me to do, began that day.

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I Learn Another Sword

I Learn Another Sword

Picking up from my last Memories post, we had one more thing to check off of our checklist to complete our move from Renton down to Vancouver.

I had a new job – check

We had found a new home – check, check

And a new home for my fencing – check, check, check

And now we were looking for a new church.

We limited our scope to one of the Lutheran flavors, specifically we would only consider one belonging to the Missouri Synod. We sampled one in the vicinity of our home, but nothing struck us. We widened the circle and finally landed at one on the opposite side of town.

Everything about the church seemed right to us. But especially the pastor. We had not met the like before. There was something about him that was, for the lack of a better word, ‘charismatic.’ As it turns out that was exactly the right word. He taught from the Bible, not from another book, such as any currently invogue self help psychology piece (a la transactional analysis). The style is called expositional teaching, which is done by going through the Bible text, line by line, and expounding upon its meaning, giving historical and cultural context to better understand the people written about and God’s dealings with them.

And there was teaching we had never heard before. We were taught about the Holy Spirit – something always catechized but seldom introduced into any sermon from the Word (i.e. The Bible).  A whole new understanding and deepening was opened to us. Not something brought out of a man’s imagination – for what he taught was right there in front of us on the pages of our Bible. We now had a place to call our church home.

But with it came a significant reckoning for me.

I attended one of the small group meetings at the church. We were encouraged to get to know one another better as individuals before the meeting got underway. I sat with a man of about my own age by the name of Randy. I went first. He listened to my introduction of myself as being new to the area, working for a cinema circuit across the river in Portland. And very into fencing.

He said a few words about himself, and what he did. But what he added next stopped my mind in its tracks. He stated simply that he was a follower of Jesus Christ. But more than the simple words were stated, I knew by its emphasis that it was of supreme importance in his life – taking precedence over everything else he had mentioned – indeed the governing direction for his life choices. There was not a hint of pride, spiritual or otherwise in the declaration.

It was something that challenged my life, who I was and where I was going. The unexamined life is a treadmill from one milepost to the other, and can become numbing, when one is completely focused on the self. Randy’s words had sent me into what is classically called a dark night of the soul.

I will not bore you with a litany of confessions I made before God in the privacy of my room. More importantly, at issue, was, who was the Lord of my life? Was I the measure of what is right and wrong? Or was there something or Someone outside of myself who knew better?

Not without reason is the Bible, God’s Word, likened unto a sword.

Hebrews 4:12 –

‘For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’

In my case, the Word was a scalpel (and a mirror – another appropriate and biblical comparison) that revealled the gulf between myself and a Holy God. It illuminated my need for the gift the Gospels offer – forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His execution for my crimes.

As this work of the sword was all inward, (and I must say, continues to do so), from then on there was another emphasis to be added, a sword directed outward, in another manual of arms so to speak. In the training of another Master.

I was no longer lord of my life, but Jesus was.

No going back. No going back.

[Other posts that cover my spiritual journey:]

Three Kings Went Forth

I Can See Clearly

My Brother vs the UU Church

Moony and the Baptists

My Brother’s Accident

I Fence the Marx Brothers

I Fence the Marx Brothers

After our move from Seattle to the Vancouver/Portland area in 1980, I was looking for a place to continue my interest in the sport of fencing. It so happened that the club at which I fenced in Seattle – Salle Auriol, also had an affiliated club in Portland by the same name. (Portland’s club was coached by Yves Auriol; and Seattle’s by his brother Leon).

The one downside was the location, Vancouver-wise, that is. The studio was on the west side of Portland. I drove into my job in the heart of downtown Portland. So I was commuting mainly on the I-5 corridor – to and fro. No big deal. But on the days I fenced, it meant an extended trip further away from home – up the hill on the Sunset Hwy, past the Zoo, past the exits to Beaverton, and off on the exit to NW Cornell Road, where the meetings were held in an athletic club.

But it was worth it. Not only was it good exercise, something of great value for an office-bound cubicle dweller, but also the challenges of fencing there improved my form and fencing abilities.

Among the major factors for this were two of its main members, the Marx brothers, Robert and Michael. Robert was the older of the two, by a couple of years, taller than six feet and skilled in the use of the epee, a heavier weapon than the foil. Michael, an inch under six foot was a master with the foil. At the time he was the current US National foil champion, and had been since 1977. And he was also on the 1980 US Olympic fencing team.

(You may or may not remember, but the US teams did not compete in those Olympics set for Moscow because President Carter called for a boycott that year after Russia invaded Afghanistan in late 1979. So Mike did not compete until the LA games in 1984. His brother Robert was also a member of the team in ’84, competing in the epee events).

Anyway, I did get to fence the Marx brothers in 1980. And in a tournament.

It wasn’t for any national standings that I can recall. Purely local, and perhaps just an exhibition. It was held on the campus of the Lewis & Clark Law school.

I faced off a dozen or so fencers on that Saturday morning, including the Marx brothers. They beat me of course. But I beat all the other contenders, placing third for the tournament. (Bronze?)

It was exhilirating.

My interest in fencing faded away shortly after that. I had been challenged and began to train in the use of another sword.

But more about that later – so stay tuned and Watch This Space.

The Mountain Blows its Top

Eruption of Mt St Helens

We moved from Renton down to Vancouver, Washington in February of 1980. Just in time to see a mountain go up in smoke.

My Mom and Dad were already living in the area. We’d been visiting them for a couple of years  – (more of an imperative from their perspective, as we now had a grandchild of theirs to bring on our visits).

My Dad worked with Tom Moyer Theaters in Portland OR, an up and coming theater circuit (my Dad had made a switch from General Cinema Corp back in 1977). He passed on the word to me that they were looking for a film booker to help in their film-buying department. Film booking was what I did at the Saffle Theater Service in Seattle, so I had the skills and experience. And thinking it would be a good move, I applied.

I got the job, and a whirlwind move ensued. In short order, we sold our home in Renton, packed up our household and ourselves, and trooped down I-5 to Vancouver.

(Aside – I think my book collection weighed more than all our furniture and our individual body weights combined. The moving company miscalculated on their estimate – which created a problem. Mr Moyer would only pay the estimated amount and refused to pay their final billing. I didn’t either).

We stayed with my folks while we were looking at homes, and were turned onto a property by my Mom who had a friend wanting to sell their almost brand new home in the Hazel Dell area. We put our signatures to the contract on March 15 (the day that a series of minor earthquakes began to shake things up below Mount St Helens, a snow-topped cone in the nearby mountains), and were safely nestled in our new house by the beginning of April.

Things really began to shake after that, or so they reported on the news. For we never heard a peep from within our home, or from my folks’ house – where we passed most Sundays for supper. And their house was one whole hill closer to the mountain than ours.

We didn’t hear it on the day Mount St Helens erupted either – Sunday, May 18, 1980. Again, we were alerted about the event on the news, and immediately went outside to look. And there right from their front yard we saw what looked like a column of smoke, belching forth from the top of the mountain, and rising up and up, out of our sight. It was drop jaw, awe inspiring.

And that was not the end of it. More eruptions followed in the next five months, including one that sent the ash our way (the original eruption had exclusively gone eastward).  I had to go up on our roof and scoop the ash out of the gutters by hand. It was surprisingly light-weight and silt like.

And it was getting everywhere. Advise was being offered to car owners to make sure extra precautions were taken to insure that carburetors were protected against its intake. (Imagine a full roll of toilet paper substituted for the regular air filter).

We missed the last big eruption in October of 1980. Our attention was focused elsewhere.

For on that day, our son moved the mountain off of our minds by his birth.

Revisiting Our 1975 SoCal Trip

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I have been scanning the photos from our many albums lately to preserve them for the future. (Alarmingly a few are fading away). In that process I have not only come across more photos from our 1975 trip, but also other mementos – tickets, brochures, schedules, etc. from that adventure.

With this has come a better knowledge of what happened when.

Our flight down (via United flight 453, seats 13a and b) was a red eye, departing Seattle at 10 pm on October 19, and arriving at LAX at 1:34 the following morning. So I can now give an exact time for my ordeal with the splitting headache.

Our first day there was very busy.

Through the info in the album, I now know that the order of our doings were exactly opposite of what I had earlier recorded. We did Hollywood first (Oct 20 through 22) – our chance spotting of the Selznick studio – and tours of MGM – Paramount- Universal; and then Disneyland was second (10/23-24).

And my memory was jolted by these:

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I had forgotten we had toured the NBC studio in Burbank and took in the Tonight Show while there. But when I commented to my wife that I didn’t remember ever seeing Johnny Carson, she replied, “Of course not, Silly, Robert Goulet was his guest host that day.” Another jolt to the memory.

That particular detail came back to me. But who else was on the show for that evening?

I did a Google search and found a Wikipedia list, giving a day by day description of the Tonight Show episodes.  It contained a confirmation that Goulet was indeed the guest host for that episode. And it also listed Phyllis Diller as his guest on the show.

I can hear her laugh even now.

On Monday I will put up a page by page copy of the Disneyland booklet for that year under my research category. I hope that it may be of help to someone researching Disneyland in the 1970s.

[How much was the E-ticket going for? Or what exactly was an E Ticket? – certainly not what it is in our day.]

So stay tuned, and Watch This Space.

The 1977 California Trip: Seaworld, the Deep, and the San Diego Zoo

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Though I planned this post as part of the 1977 California Trip series, I put it aside. I just couldn’t remember the events well enough to write anything interesting about them.

But then in the process of combing through an old box of photos I came across some from that leg of our trip. They had been separated from the others I knew about.

They were all taken with a little Kodak 110 camera.

So I’ve put them into a slideshow, and will let them, for the most part, tell the story themselves.

We left Hollywood behind and pointed the Plymouth Arrow towards San Diego to take in its tourist hotspots.

Seaworld in Mission Park filled our first day. With no problems having manifested so far about our plexiglass window, I no longer had any anxiety leaving the car behind in parking lots. So I could enjoy exploring the park, its exhibits and shows.

We used the SkyRide to get the lay of the land to better plan our time in the park. We didn’t make it up into the Skytower but we didn’t need to.

The big attraction, of course was Shamu, the Killer Whale – (that detail I had to look up, for I wasn’t sure that it might not have been Namu). You can see him in one shot giving a damsel a smooch. He appeared in a little entertainment called ‘Shamu goes to College’ (as you will note from one of the sets, visible in the photo).

That evening we caught the opening of the film The Deep, based on the book by Peter Benchley – a hot property at the time because of his hit ‘Jaws’ of two years before.

The next day we spent at the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park. Lions, turtles and bears. Oh my! Galapagos turtles that is.

Then it was back to Renton and home and work at the Saffle Theater Service. The next time we were down in the Southern Cal area – we had kids – three of them – which I will cover at a later date, so stay tuned and Watch This Space.

Becoming a Father

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I’d always wanted to see “The Seven Samurai.” Ever since I heard about it, that is. I think I came across the title for the first time among the listings in a 16mm film catalog (for non-theatrical rentals) that I acquired somehow along the way – that and The Film Encyclopedia that sat prominently on my bookshelf, when I wasn’t pouring over it.

Then on practically the last day of 1977 up pops an ad in the newspaper, touting the showing of “A breath taking 3-hour epic” at the Movie House in the U-District – “The Seven Samurai.” I made plans for my wife and me to see it. I invited our best man (and my fencing buddy) Dave along for the show.  And that last decision probably saved me. For if he had not been there, I would have been in for a world of hurt.

As it was, the seats in that particular venue delivered a world of hurt. Hard, unyielding wooden chairs, not a hint of padding. You see, my wife was five months along in her first pregnancy, and three hours of swords and samurai on those concrete-like seats were not her idea of a fun time. But she held in there, mainly for the sake of not making a scene before our friend.

Was it worth it? Maybe I shouldn’t answer that. (My wife sometimes reads these posts).

Anyway, the movie wasn’t the only thing that had an overly long running time.

By the end of April of 1978 we were going past her due date. One week late. Two weeks late. As the number of days past the due date mounted, she began to dread the inquiring phone calls – “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” And people began to offer various suggestions for “helping” the baby along. Like taking the prospective ‘mommie’ on a bumpy ride over the railroad tracks. Two more weeks went by and that began to sound like a viable option.

There was one activity though that we chanced upon that held out the promise of inducing labor. Sonics fever!

At the time, ‘our’ team, the Seattle Super Sonics was battling the Washington Bullets for the NBA championship. They came in fourth on the season in their conference, so it was a huge struggle for them just to get into the finals. They had to top the other three teams – the Lakers, the Trail Blazers and the Nuggets. And we watched with great interest, my wife especially.

The first two games were held in Seattle. The Sonics won the first in a comeback finish, but the Bullets took the second. It was during that second game that my excited wife was down on all fours, belly to the floor, cheering the team on.

My wife delivered before the next game was played.

And I was right there with her. We had done the Lamaze classes, so I was sort of prepared for it.  But the baby had been gestating for ten months; so come time that the water broke, there wasn’t much left. And I wasn’t prepared for when the physician brought out a pair of forceps, inserted them around the baby’s head and started pulling. I watched in shock as my wife’s body was dragged down the table with each yank.

We were both relieved when our baby was out with us, but concerned for the marks on the sides of our daughter’s head. And the unforgettable look in her eyes. A look of bewilderment that conveyed a sense of feral fear. The very second our eyes locked my heart lept.

One talks about mothers bonding with their babies. I bonded with our baby in that instant. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her.

Well, the Sonics lost the series in 1978, but were back in the championships the very next year. And after losing the first game, swept the next four. And beat the Bullets in that rematch.

And our little toddler was gleefully ripping the books from my bookshelf, cascading them into a heap onto the floor. And I didn’t care.

I Boil Water

I Boil Water

1n 1977 we left behind our little apartment on the Monorail in downtown Seattle and moved into our first home – a cinder block affair up in the Highlands area of Renton, WA. It was a simple rectangle comprised of – a living room, kitchen/dining room, bath, and two bedrooms. We’d been married only three years, and were expecting our first child (hence the need for a bigger place).

We were familiar with the area – down NE 8th St to Monroe Avenue NE, then west took us to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, where we were married. (And by a singular curiosity, going left on Monroe took us by Greenwood Memorial Park, and the gravesite of Jimi Hendrix).

I wasn’t much of a cook or a baker or even a bottle-washer. But I did pride myself that I could do breakfast – i. e. boil water.

I was going about this task one morning. The wife was out and I had the kitchen all to myself, and I had decided to make some oatmeal for my breakfast. So, I completed steps one through three –

1- put the water in a pot

2 – placed the pot on the stove, and

3 – turned the burner to high.

Something distracted my attention before step four, putting the oatmeal in. The exact detail escapes me. Newspaper delivery, perhaps. Something that needed my attention out in front of the house, anyway. That’s how I found myself out on the front yard, doing whatever it was – only come time to turn back and re-enter the house, I found a locked front door staring me in the face.

For some reason I pounded on the door – (maybe just to test if it really were locked, and not just stuck closed instead). Then panic sunk in as I realized that that pot of water was merrily bubbling away full blast on the stove. What could happen if I did not get back in, in time? And how much time would be too much time?

I waited too long under that particular sword of Damacles until I screwed up the resolve and broke a window in the back door and gained access to the kitchen.

But sadly, it was too late for the pot. The water had had enough time to boil completely off, destroying the pot (one of our wedding presents, of course). I had to explain the reason behind its demise and the state of the window to my wife upon her return.

I still make oatmeal for myself. It is still a favorite for breakfast. But these days, I always use the microwave.

Thirty Years in the Making

Thirty Years in the Making

William Wilberforce

In 1987 I returned from a mission trip to Argentina. It was a important time in my life. And an impactful one. In fact, I believed that the next step for my life and that of my family was a move to Buenos Aires as a missionary.

It made sense – given my training in language (for my minor in Spanish I had studied under an Argentine professor),  and the fact that the witness of a Wycliffe Bible translator had been an element in my conversion seven years earlier.

So while I was waiting for things to come together – certain things would have to happen if it were to come to pass, I was avidly reading biographies of missionaries and other historical Christian figures. One such individual was the British statesman and Christian, William Wilberforce – an important political figure in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He believed that God’s call upon his life was to bring an end to the slave trade. Something about this man as portrayed in the biography by John Pollock resonated deeply in my consciousness.

More people needed to know about him, his love for God, and how that motivated him.

I was sitting in church service, and thoughts were percolating through my brain about Wilberforce, like – someone should make a movie about him. A Voice said to me – No, it’s a musical.

What a great idea I said to myself (for Wilberforce had a reputation as a marvelous singer). But I was called elsewhere. What did it have to do with me? I was waiting for leading as a missionary.

That all ended when the Lord spoke through the Scripture in another Sunday service. The words of Ezekiel shattered the image of what I thought I was called to. I am not sending you to a people of another tongue [Ezekiel 3:5]. I know the word was directed at my heart, to tell me that my call was not as a missionary to a foreign land.

So what to do.

Another word came. Another sermon had a phrase that hit my heart too. What’s that in your hand? [Exodus 4:2] I had recently bought a fountain pen, with which I took down notes from the sermons.

I put it all together. And began to write a musical based on the life of William Wilberforce.

I have just completed the first draft this last week.

“Wilber – A Musical.”

It has been a long journey. And all in God’s timing. There were certain things I needed to learn and to experience along the way.

Now I am waiting to see what’s next.

Silvered Hair

Silvered Hair

(The birthday girls in their birthday month).

You can have your gold
On its looks, I’m not sold
Give me silver and its gleam
That – I whole-heartily esteem

But if you think
This whim strange
Your opinion
I seek to change
For God Himself
Gives His approbation
On His saints
In silver acclamation

Render to them your praise
Fitting their renown
As complement to the Lord’s
Silver crown.

[Proverbs 16:31]

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