August 16, 2015
August 4, 2015
Cecil was majestic and beautiful. He was of a kingly nature. In many ways he was both courageous and innocent. He had a keen sense. Surrounded by nature and a vast wilderness he had so much potential. Though at peace with nature there was something undefinable, something beyond that caused in him great stress. The struggle for survival defined him and gave him purpose. Yet, here on the precipice of greatness, to roar, to live, to fulfil his destiny, the attack came with extreme brutality.
Cruel and void of reason; the attacker was vicious. Cecil could not escape his ultimate confinement and faced a resilient foe.
The weapon had penetrated and was fatal. Unimaginable pain coursed his body. He tried crying out but managed only to gape in silence. Death would not come for an agonizing 10 minutes. Tears dropped as he struggled valiantly against the sharp cold blade that pierced his neck. The attacker was resolute. No pity, just business after all. Trophy secured. Cecil succumbed to the ravages of partial term abortion.
July 29, 2015
“The morning was turning out to be a real special day for hunting. The previous day the veteran (Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class) had canvased the area and found good evidence of deer. He stood taking in the sight before him. The gentle wave of tall Savannah pines caressed by the coastal breeze, the morning sun causing the Georgia morning dew to sparkle like diamonds, and splendid oaks decorated by moss dangling like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Indeed, a day of days.
He glanced over at the teenager. Why he had established a unique relationship with this skinny troubled youngster was beyond him. Yet, he had felt something. Intuitively he understood that the teen needed help and well, that was that. After an internal debate the veteran had given the teenager his granddad’s double-barrel shotgun to use for this hunt. For self-preservation and for general training he went through all the safety features he could recall.
One thing- the shotgun had a tricky trigger and no safety.
He had impressed upon the boy the proper position of the trigger finger as well as pointing the gun towards the ground at all times. They closed in on the area where he had scouted the day before. The teenager followed close behind. He turned to motion to the teen.
The young teen stood dazed and confused. Horror and shock took over. Smoke billowed from both barrels of the shotgun. The shot echoed majestically through the still forest. He dared not look up. The one person whom he looked up to more than anyone had surely taken the full brunt of the blast.
In the blink of an eye everything changed.
What was a great day was now a real tragedy. He had to look. But he didn’t see the twisted bloodied body of his friend. There standing before him was the veteran alive and well, with hands on hips, with eyes that were both furious and merciful. No words were spoken. The stare was more than enough. Without a word they walked out of the forest and went to eat breakfast.”
I recall this day many times. I was the teenager and my cousin Noel was the veteran (active duty rank was Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class and his Army Reserve rank was Buck Sergeant). More times than not tragedy is the outcome of such hunting accidents. In the blink of an eye life can turn. That day God’s providence offered the gift of life. Such a gift makes you appreciate every ounce of every day.
Here is something to consider. One day, in the blink of an eye all life will take a turn. Notice in 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52, “Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
In less time it takes you to blink is how quickly your life will change.
In that climatic instant you will be resurrected. Thus the writer describes this fantastic moment in verse 54, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” The statement in verse 57 is critical and cannot be overlooked. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This moment of being raised imperishable will only come through Jesus Christ.
One day, in the blink of an eye your life will turn, you will be changed. That day will be final. There will be no second chance. You will be raised imperishable or perishable. Are you prepared?
April 24, 2013
The mother tucked her son in for the night. Their nighttime routine was as regular as clock work or so the mom thought. Together they would say their bedtime prayer. Mom would be first then her son would follow. She was always eager to hear his prayer. His prayer was always new and refreshing. She would teasingly pinch his toe and then his nose. His smile would brighten her heart and instantly life would be as right as rain. She would always say, “Son, I love you with all my heart.” With that pronouncement their nightly routine would end with a huge hug, you know, one of those hugs we all need and treasure.
Then one night this routine was shattered in a most spectacular way.
The night began routinely enough. The mother tucked in her son; they prayed, she pinched his toes and nose and then he gave her his world winning smile. Yet when she was about to say, “Son, I love you with all my heart” he reached up with his hand to silence her. Time stopped. Routine was shattered. His smile was broader than ever before and his eyes, oh his eyes, radiated a light so full of innocence that she felt as if she were caught up in a massive black-hole pulling her into a world of pure love. She was enraptured. Then gesturing to his entire possession of toys said, “Mom, I love YOU with all my toys.”
The chords of her heart were stroked and in that single moment of clarity she knew what genuine love must be like in Heaven.
The story that I have revealed is true. A wonderful moment of love shared between mother and son. Love shakes us, molds us, connects us, shapes us, motivates us, challenges us, moves us, strengthens us, confounds us, and dares us. These precious love moments are but a reflection of a bigger purpose and spiritual force. They serve as windows begging our attention to perceive the true source of genuine love. From that pure source love springs and never runs dry, is limitless in mercy, looks beyond faults, strikes the chords of our heart, and is always true.
God is love.
The mother’s son conveyed a type of love we yearn for every day; to love one another with the entirety of who we are and all that we have. Sadly, we miss the mark here. But, this is exactly the love God demonstrated so perfectly in the life and death of His Son Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 John 4:9 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
You may have failed in so many ways. You may have lost countless opportunities to love. Perhaps all you’ve done lately is be a negative, critical, unforgiving, and hateful person.
Today, God says to you and to a needy world, “I Love You with All My Son!”
The love of Christ is as powerful as any black-hole. His love is an event that is life-changing. This dynamic love is tugging on your heart every day. The question is will you allow your heart to be pulled in and be embraced by His Amazing Grace? Only then will you be able to experience and share a love “that passes all understanding.”
Late at night as the wind howls outside my window and the moon casts bizarre images on the bedroom walls, I detect furtive movement out of the corner of my eye. Each time I try to focus on the movement the image mockingly disappears into the shadows. I was a young boy at the time and I imagined something terrible was hidden in those shadows. Night terrors were what my dad called them but I thought differently.
One night my dad rented a room at a spooky looking hotel. We had traveled a long way from Houston, TX headed home to Rincon, GA so dad was exhausted and needed rest. All I wanted was to get to that wonderful place called home and more to the point I sensed or rather imagined that there was something creepy about the motel. I couldn’t come up with any legitimate reason why we shouldn’t spend the night. How could a young boy explain to his dad a fear that sounded crazy and far-fetched? I hid under the covers praying that my fears were unwarranted. However, the light emanating from the bathroom suggested otherwise. The light appeared strange; rather than being warm and natural, the tone had an unnatural quality purposely concealing a clandestine operation.
Sleep eluded me.
Soon after dad was fast asleep I sensed a presence next to my side of the bed. I dared not take a look. I waited. My heart pounded in my chest. For what seemed like an eternity nothing happened then I felt ice-cold boney hands ease under my body. The clandestine operation revealed! I knew without a doubt that my life depended on crying out. With all my strength “Dad!” then within seconds his loving arms were embracing me, protecting me, and pulling me to safety.
The shadows retreated.
There are powerful events that we experience in childhood that affect us both mentally and spiritually. Divorce is one of those jarring events. I don’t believe parents are neither fully aware of the drama of divorce nor fully conscious of the war that rages within the minds of innocent children. Children are left with unanswered questions. What was once a home (even a fractured one) is instantly gone. We feel abandoned. We have difficulty expressing our bewilderment and pain.
You can be sure that whatever the cause for divorce, children are at risk!
Satan lurks to use these events as opportunities to create as much chaos as possible. This is one reason why Jesus warned, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” John 10:10. Satan wants to debase all that is good and innocent. There are many children of divorce parents who are hurting; a deep ache exists, a forever scar. Be mindful of the reality of this even in cases where the divorce was legitimate. Many are now adults who are still haunted by memories hidden in the shadows of the past.
One night long ago my dad embraced me and pulled me to safety. He was there for me. He was my hero. Yet, my dad did something even better. He taught me that God was the only one able to heal my broken heart, to give me peace over troubled waters, to give me power over fear, and to empower me to live a life of meaning and purpose. Are you hurting? God will heal you. What is hidden in the shadows that have you in the grips of fear and anxiety? God is here for you. His Grace will enable you to experience a victorious life!
“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4.
January 24, 2013
I could never escape “The Look”. Wordless, timeless; a defining moment filled with meaning, conviction, purpose, hope, and love. The Look has all this and more. I can get away with a lot of things but The Look transfixes me, anchors me, and grounds me.
The Look forces me to see the truth of things like no other.
We all come across a similar Look in the faces of those we love, those we respect, or people in position of authority like teachers or policemen. I remember as a teenager in church one Sunday the guest speaker was anything but interesting or lively. I decided to take matters into my own hand. So, I began to write notes or use my index finger and middle finger pretending to be a person running a mad race over books, knees, and anything else. We began giggling and soon my dad was standing next to the pew giving me the Look. Red faced, I wanted to disappear.
Wives are famous in their art of simulating The Look. Husbands are caught flat-footed many times and are frozen in mid-sentence with that magical Look from their lovely wives. Parents have this art as well. Just argue with your parents kids and the Look will quickly surface with amazing results.
However, all such Looks pale by comparison to The Look that stirs the heart of our soul. Who has The Look that causes such drama? Jesus Christ!
Consider Peter whom Jesus specifically picked out to be an apostle. Peter was excitable, strong willed, emotional, brazen, bold, and courageous. But Jesus knew that Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat. The Devil had inside knowledge (as he does with all of us) that the outwardly strong Peter had a weakness of the heart. Jesus prayed for the battle ahead, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.” Lk.22:32.
Based on Peter’s own rash statement Jesus predicted he would fall away. Peter subsequently became filled with pride, cussing, lying, and denying Jesus Christ. Sound like anyone you know?
Then the most important moment in Peter’s life occurred. “…Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Lk.22:60-62.
The Look from Jesus was a monumental shift for Peter. Peter, who had wept so bitterly, would later write in 2 Peter 1:1 “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” He was once a rebel but now a servant. What was once lost was now found in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
The message of the cross cuts through the riff-raff and looks right into the heart of your soul. Jesus died to address your heart problem. God has always been interested in your heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Breathtaking and pivotal is The Look from Jesus Christ.
He is Looking at you through the Gospel message of Saving Grace. His love probes and stirs your heart. Just as Noah found “favor in the eyes of God” so can you. You may feel far from help but salvation is only a Look away. Will today be the life-changing moment for you?
January 12, 2013
This is especially true with real golf characters like my Uncle Allen and Clarence, and my dad (Erwin). They loved the game and played golf with a special flare but at the same time didn’t take the game too seriously. They found something special in golf like Arnold Palmer who said, “What other people may find in poetry, I find in the flight of a good drive.” My dad had some training but like all great duffers you relearn the trade. There’s no cynicism or excuses in golf. You’ll find more champions and specialists in golf than in any sport known to all humanity.
Just ask your friendly golf companion.
Clarence and Allen had unorthodox swings. Allen had this weird crouch; on his back-swing would rise to his toes and on the down-swing would hunker down to his knees. Clarence would stand addressing his ball (maddeningly too long) and tilt his head just before teeing off. My dad was more suave, swinging so easily and fluidly that you had visions of a dashing Brit who would say afterwards, “fabulous my dear chaps don’t you think?” All of which made for great entertainment and wonderful moments. One particular moment stands out.
The drama unfolded around a par 5 dog-leg to the right. The green was large undulating lazily towards a small pond positioned to the left on your approach. The day was gorgeous- blue sky, sunny, a touch of breeze coming from Hilton Head Island. No mosquitoes or big Savannah gnats to fend off. This was one of those picture perfect days all golfers dream about. So, here we were standing on the green patiently waiting for Clarence to putt in his birdie.
We all had putted so he could have his moment in the sun. A birdie for a seasoned duffer was monumental and would provide future swash-buckling tales.
The ball was just 3 inches away from the cup. Clarence approached and addressed the ball. Crickets chirped, birds sung, a sprinkler chattered in the background, a slight breeze caused leaves to ramble across the green; a prop engine airplane hummed faintly over-head, somewhere an old Grandfather clock stroked, and we all breathlessly waited.
Finally, he putts.
The ball rings the lip of the cup. He missed! Reacting to this egregious crime Clarence leaped in the air and shouted “shhhh…oot!” He did this with such force that his upper false teeth sailed out of his mouth, tumbling in slow-motion through the air and miraculously landing right beside the cup and golf ball. In the background dad stated dramatically, “Clarence, don’t let this game eat you up.”
Thanksgiving brings together family, friends, and church-family. Use this time to be even more thankful for family, the making of new memories, reflecting on those who have passed on and who have left such a mark on your life. Clarence and my dad are no longer living. I thank God for those special Saturday’s playing golf, walking down the fairway, laughing, enjoying the day with my family- a cast (that is still growing) of very unusual yet much beloved characters.
Be thankful and remember what truly matters.
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chron.29:14.
Curtis Bruce Kessler
The woods behind my Uncle William’s house provided the opportunity for my cousin Joan and me. We were preteen so who wanted to play in the confines of a yard when you could escape into the universe of a forest? The possibilities were endless. So, we dashed here and there, waded through South Georgia’s dark tea colored streams, excitedly looking under rocks to see what creatures existed below, laughing, and scouting for the next wonder waiting around the bend.
Suddenly, we stood looking over a ravine.
The water dropped right before us. We eased to the edge and peered down marveling at the sight below. The waterfall was spectacular. How was this possible we wondered? Yet, although deep the ravine was not too wide. We could imagine that with real effort someone could take a running jump and safely land on the other side. I wondered nervously if this was an optical illusion.
Then, without warning, Joan grabbed my hand and said with a knowing confident smile “We can make it!” I had my doubts but amazingly what came out of my mouth was “Ok, if you say so.”
Holding hands and with zealous determination we took off running and jumped.
We missed-judged the distance and fell. Falling but somehow still holding hands I turned to Joan, “I thought you said we can make it?” No comment, just her knowing confident smile. Down we went. Seconds later we hit the water. I remember plunging deep then darkness eagerly surrounded me. I could barely see the light above but that refracted ray was enough to give me direction and purpose. Air bubbles floated all around me as I swam valiantly towards the light.
I dared not look back into the dark abyss. The light was getting brighter and brighter. I was almost there. I intuited that my cousin was about to do the same. Seconds later I broke through to the surface. Then I woke up. After all these years this dream is one that I remember most and one which has come to mean something very special. Here is the reason.
Our life-journey in Jesus Christ is one of discovery and true adventure. We experience surprises, mysteries, treasures, as well as difficulties and trouble. Like my dream we often come to a crossroad or ravine in life that throws us in a difficult situation. We experience a thrill of leaping over the problem or being literally thrown into deep water. At this point we cry out like David, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.”
Like my dream darkness seeks to confuse and overwhelm us. The abyss pulls us in a direction that will lead to greater depths of hopelessness. In these moments of real pressure and despair we thankfully have the light of Jesus as a beacon to hone in on to rise to safety. We dare not look back into the abyss. So we look up to the cross and rise in faith. “The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?”
You see, after all is said and done; we can make it through anything in life. Why? Jesus gives us the power and victory. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37.
Although a dream, I will be forever grateful for my dear cousin Joan as she with a courageous knowing confident smile held my hand to say “We can make it!” By the grace of God we all can and will.
Curtis Bruce Kessler
Would you consider the death of a human being a gift? Our hearts are quickened when we hear of a father defending his child and paying the ultimate price, death. We are sometimes confronted with tragedy as in Newtown, Connecticut where administrators and teachers died heroically to save their precious little children from a madman. We are moved beyond words.
Death has a way of getting our attention and striking the chords of our heart.
Amazingly, Christmas is about life, about the birth of a child, all the goodness of humanity, but this day is also about a Savior, Christ the Lord, about sacrificial love, about redeeming us from our sins, and grace. The very core of humanity is impacted.
The loss of a loved drives this point home as no other.
Christmas Eve night a few years back as I watched my dad pass away I had noticed along the hallways of the Hospice Center the glow of the Christmas tree, lights dancing off the silver glitter, gifts beautifully wrapped, yet, what mattered was love. Divine love soothes us when nothing else will, inspires us to care and sacrifice for others, offers hope beyond loss and tragedy- life and family, life and sacrifice, life and love, life and grace, life and death.
Christmas is a celebration; life and family, life and love, life and sacrifice, life and death, life and the gift of grace.
The birth and death of Christ gets our attention. We are loved. Our hearts are struck. We are changed forever. We are filled with a joy that passes all understanding.
What a gift.
Curtis Bruce Kessler
September 5, 2012
I don’t think people really understand the devastation and pressure that a child is faced with when their parents are having problems. The pain and cries of the children are manifested in many ways both mentally and spiritually. Divorce is not a kind word. Divorce is in many ways brutal. I do not say this lightly or with malicious intent to miss-characterize people who have been divorced and have moved on. I speak from reality and one that has experienced the effects of divorce as a child.
A child cannot grasp the full meaning of divorce however they do understand when something is broken or better yet when those they love are hurting. Anxiety reaches a boiling point and because we (the children) have no idea what to do or how to fix the problem we live vicariously on a threshold between a world that will either crush us or lift us to a better place. No one is immune from a broken home especially an innocent child.
A child depends on you, whoever is closest to them.
The burdens of the sometimes forgotten children are unimaginable and in those difficult life-situations one essential act is what they need to survive. There was no way I could have verbalized what I knew in my heart and soul at age five, that my mom and dad were not well. Something was not quite right. No one seemed to know what I knew and who would listen to a five year old anyway?
Nighttime was always the worse.
No, this had less to do with how my parents acted but more to do with the fact that the night or the darkness seemed to come alive taunting or reveling in the trouble devastating our family. Lying in bed eventually I would feel a great presence lurking from some point in my bedroom. Strange shadowy shapes would form within my peripheral vision but when I would attempt to look directly at them they would furtively scatter away. Utter blackness as dark as caverns winding deep in the earth would stare back at me with soulless hungry eyes and would seem so sinister and menacing that I would shout out. Many folks would call these night-terrors.
I would just call them the cries of children from broken homes.
One particularly hard night I remember I was allowed to sleep in my parent’s room. Here of all places I thought the darkness could not penetrate. Surely this would be a safe refuge from the forces I sensed troubling all of us. Yet, once the light was turned off, the silence and darkness came alive. I had my answer. Soon, I realized that tonight would be different.
Something stirred in the shadows then suddenly a dark figure materialized out of the darkness. Walking slowly and with purposeful menacing intent the dark figure headed straight for me! I was paralyzed with fear unable to move or shout out for help. Within seconds of reaching the far end of the bed the dark figure was grabbed by my dad! I watched through breathless tears as my dad fought valiantly with this fiend. They struggled mightily then down they fell in the pit of darkness. I couldn’t see and everything was deadly silent. Oh, I prayed so! After what seemed like an eternity dad walked up to my bed.
He wore a smile and gave me a hug that spoke more to my heart than any words.
He then simply raised his fingers to his lips and said, “Shish, all is well, you can sleep now.” This would be the affirmation of love that I sorely and desperately needed for in the days to come my parents would be divorced. I really cannot say or tell you if the shadowy figure was real all I know is the real substance from my father was love, the constant affirmation of being loved, and the sacrifices he made demonstrating that love.
Children from broken homes have lost something they can never regain- their family, their father and mother, their home. This lost-ness is a gut-wrenching experience. Some will forever be in search of that allusive family spirit that was cruelly taken away. Their cries along with other children of broken homes echo yearningly late at night. Can you hear them? Pray for them. There is a dark force that seeks to destroy their lives as well. The only way out of this darkness is the light of love, the affirmation of love, and loves great selfless sacrifice.
Fathers and mothers, friends and family, act on that healing love today before time runs out. Every child needs to know they are loved, that “all is well, you can sleep now.”