Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The Bp. was here for Confirmation yesterday and Confirmed 14 youths and 14 adults – WOW!!!

As is his privilege, he gave the Sermon and since it was Pentecost he wore his mitre and used it to illustrate a part of his Sermon referring to the “tongues of fire” raining down on the Apostles. That is the symbolism of the headdress.

He also got to talking about inspire and expire in terms as we know them and I thought his visualizations were extremely well done. For he spoke about the “Breath of God” inspiring a newborn infant. The first breath a child takes being their inspiration or taking in of the Holy Spirit and the expiration of the Holy Spirit being the last breath we exhale as the Spirit leaves our earthly shell when we pass over. In between as we breathe in and out, we continue to take in His H.S. and then share it. Don’t know if what I’m explaining makes sense to anyone else but the imagery spoke to me and since I’m still breathing in and out I'll share my thoughts as the Spirit has led me.

Y'all have a good season of Pentecost, hear?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bittersweet Chocolate - Domino style

Well, we made it back from NOLA, got the daughter graduated and saw the son and daughter-in-law (stopped in Houston) on the way home. It’s good to see them back in Texas. They sure seemed happy to be off The Mountain.

Saturday was a busy day for us. Up, walk the dog, go to brunch (found a great new Brunch spot with a Bananas Foster Po Boy that was “to die for”), stop on St. Charles for fabric and then to a dress fitting. After that it was walk the dog again, change and then rush to Tulane for GRADUATION!!! Next, to an early dinner and then Tipitina’s to see the fat man himself, Fats Domino. Enjoyed the warm up (Fat’s Brother-in-Law) and at about 10:30 Fats came on stage. Weren’t sure he’d show until he came out, Fats’ pushing 80 real hard and appearances are tough on him these days. Therein lies the rub.

Next morning, I asked the wife her impressions of the performance and they were the same as mine. Have mulled it over and in answer to a couple of people who’ve asked: “How was the show?” I’ve replied: "Bittersweet." It’s the only way I can define it.

The Fat Man's still as good as he was 50; no, going on 60 years ago. He’s one of my favorite performers. (I believe I’ve already mentioned that if I’m still upright when he dies, I will attend his funeral.) It was a limited crowd that was privileged to see him, Tip’s can’t hold more than 300 or so people and everyone there was in love with him. PBS had a crew to record the evening for an upcoming special. I will treasure the memory for a long, long time. But, what about the bittersweet part?

When he came onstage, Fats sat down at the piano and began singing and playing and the crowd started gettin’ in the groove. However, after doing three numbers, he got up and started to walk off. Fats appeared to think he was through with his gig. One of his entourage gently spoke to him and turned him back around where he sat down and began to play again. After that, before each new number, one member of the band would whisper in his ear and then Fats would rock out with another piece. Still the same smiling face, still the same hands at the keys and voice on the mike, he sounded as good as ever. But I was struck by how old he was and it seemed he was being handled like a “trick pony”. It may well have been his last public performance. Let me tell you, I was saddened. An icon of my youth was being directed by a handler. Time has a way of catching up with everyone and I guess Fats finally got caught too.

Therefore, this morning my prayer is he be allowed the dignity to live out the rest of his life in his beloved City, savoring the food he so enjoys, playing his piano, composing when the mood strikes him, recording only if he's moved. Don't push him to perform; let him become the new Ambassador of The City that’s been his life and which he's represented so well for so many years. As he continues growing older let him work and witness its necessary rebirth and rebuilding and truly become its next Icon.

Luck always Fats, we love ya'.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Divine irony

I see today that the Westboro Baptist Church intends to picket the funeral of the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

Does anyone else see the irony in this?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Well ... there's a deep subject, no?

It's Tuesday afternoon and the son and daughter in law have left Sewanee, TN for Texas this afternoon. The wife is on the road back from Dallas after spending the night before a Doctor's appointment early this morning. The daughter is due to fly out of DFW this evening back to NOLA and my truck (no, I'm not in it) is due back from San Antonio sometime this evening. On Thursday after kenneling at least some of the four legged family we will be on the road to NOLA to see the daughter graduate Tulane. As an aside, we are supposed to have tickets to hear "Fats" play at Tipitina's on Saturday night - more to follow on that later.

I'm amazed at how transient our population has become. Hadn't considered it until sometime yesterday when I got to thinking about the miles we all will have traveled this week. Daughter - 1200 miles (Sunday flew into Dallas to take some photo's and as she was already there she drove down to visit her Mom on Mother's Day). Son & daughter in law - 1000 miles (they are moving to Houston for his schooling). Wife - just 200 miles to her credit (the Doctor's visit). And my truck - 400 miles (both ways). From here to NOLA it's 500 miles one way so the wife and I will log another 1000 total by Sunday's return. That comes up to 3800 miles for 4 people and one lonely pickup in a week's time and it seems to me a lot. I will grant that this situation is neither normal or ordinary but it begs the greater question: Do we still have roots and if so, how deep are they? I'm not sure I know.

I fear that society in general is becoming "throw away", much the same as a lot of the goods we purchase today that aren't made to last. It's become to easy to pack up and move on down the road, to travel here and there as the mood strikes.

A sense of home is very strong in me. I've lately been going thru some old family picture albums and am in awe and envy of the community they demonstrate. I posted a reply to a blog I read just this morning dealing with the quantum change my Granddaddy witnessed in his 73 years from 1899 to 1973. He was smart, well read, accomplished and relatively well to do but everyone in a large family stayed pretty close together and certainly didn't experience the type of travel I've just described. You know, it's easy to get from here to there today, and the opportunities we're presented are much greater than years back but bigger's not always better and I can truthfully say I think I'd prefer to be back in the day of those photos, warts and all.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Petty Party Politics

In news of the day, I understand that “W” is giving a “White Tie” Dinner for the Queen and that Senate Majority Leader and consummate partisan hack Harry Reid declined his invitation. I guess he is so poisoned by his hatred for the President that he won’t even accept a State Dinner invitation that honors the Queen of England. This strikes me as akin to the several Global South Primates refusal to take Communion with PBp. Schiori in Tanzania. The Global South Bps. exhibited a tremendous lack of grace in that action and Harry Reid, it appears, has now done likewise. No further comments are necessary and one can draw their own conclusions.

And in other news of the day:

“A tenured college professor is set to be fired for simply sending out an e-mail to colleagues containing George Washington’s ‘Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1798.’

On Nov. 22, 2006, the day before Thanksgiving, Walter Kehowski, a professor in mathematics in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) sent the e-mail containing Washington’s message to all MCCCD employees, using a district-wide service designated for ‘announcements.’”

(FYI Washington’s Proclamation read:

“WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.”

G. Washington)

“Within weeks, five MCCCD employees filed harassment charges against Kehowski, claiming his message was "hostile” and "derogatory.”

I'm assuming umbrage was taken in its decidedly religious context, though historically I am to understand that Thanksgiving was originally a religious holiday. I don’t see anything in this Proclamation that indicates anything about which almighty God Washington was referring to but I suspect it was the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (coincidentally the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims). The closest I can place this within a Christian context is his dating of the document as the 3rd of October (in the year of our Lord), 1789. Certainly the point could be made that the terms B.C. & A.D. both were common Christian usage at the time; therefore, his “in the year of our Lord” could be considered a reference to Christ but the point could be made also that common usage was common usage and such was how anyone would date a document at that time.

Folks, political correctness is working hard to drive the final few nails in the coffin of our founder’s experiment in government so that we can next kiss our constitutional freedoms goodbye.

Ain’t much else to say today. Y'all be careful out there.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

And awaaay we go!

Something is dreadfully wrong with parts of The Episcopal Church.

News of the day is that NJ Governor resignate Jim McGreevey now wants to become an Episcopal Priest and is pursuing the track for ordination. Here we have an openly Gay person who is arguably the "fearless leader" of one of the most corrupt administrations in the history of New Jersey politics. A state, BTW, that is and long has been renown for its corruptness. Call it "Louisiana North", if you will.

I would assume that he is pursuing ordination within the Diocese of Newark, but then why should that surprise anyone. It seems that the ultra liberal wing of our Church is bent on destroying any semblance of normalcy and attempting to see how far over the top they can go without being called on the carpet for their actions.

Folks, we're losing sight of the mission of our Church. I pray daily for our Church; however, it seems to me that I'm doing something wrong as things just seem to get worse.

Maybe I should be praying for schism?

A letter to the Global Church from Darlene

Got this and subsequent correction in a newsletter I read and thought it worth posting. Will offer no comment, draw your own conclusions.

A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna

Dear friends,

This past week has been filled with much sorrow. Many of you have heard by now of our devastating loss here in an event that took place in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch, the city where believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26).

On Wednesday morning, April 18, 2007, 46 year old German missionary and father of three Tilman Geske prepared to go to his office, kissing his wife goodbye taking a moment to hug his son and give him the priceless memory, “Goodbye, son. I love you.”

Tilman rented an office space from Zirve Publishing where he was preparing notes for the new Turkish Study Bible. Zirve was also the location of the Malatya Evangelist Church office. A ministry of the church, Zirve prints and distributes Christian literature to Malatya and nearby cities in Eastern Turkey. In another area of town, 35 year old Pastor Necati Aydin, father of two, said goodbye to his wife, leaving for the office as well. They had a morning Bible Study and prayer meeting that some other believers in town would also be attending. Ugur Yuksel likewise made his way to the Bible study.

None of these three men knew that what awaited them at the Bible study was the ultimate testing and application of their faith, which would conclude with their entrance into glory to receive their crown of righteousness from Christ and honor from all the saints awaiting them in the Lord’s presence.

On the other side of town, ten young men all under 20 years old put into place final arrangements for their ultimate act of faith, living out their love for Allah and hatred of infidels who they felt undermined Islam.

On Resurrection Sunday, five of these men had been to a by-invitation-only evangelistic service that Pastor Necati and his men had arranged at a hotel conference room in the city. The men were known to the believers as “seekers.” No one knows what happened in the hearts of those men as they listened to the gospel. Were they touched by the Holy Spirit? Were they convicted of sin? Did they hear the gospel in their heart of hearts? Today we only have the beginning of their story.

These young men, one of whom is the son of a mayor in the Province of Malatya, are part of a tarikat, or a group of “faithful believers” in Islam. Tarikat membership is highly respected here; it’s like a fraternity membership. In fact, it is said that no one can get into public office without membership in a tarikat. These young men all lived in the same dorm, all preparing for university entrance exams.

The young men got guns, breadknives, ropes and towels ready for their final act of service to Allah. They knew there would be a lot of blood. They arrived in time for the Bible Study, around 10 o’clock.

They arrived, and apparently the Bible Study began. Reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The boys tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs and as they videoed their work on their cellphones, they tortured our brothers for almost three hours*

[Details of the torture--* Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.]

Neighbors in workplaces near the printhouse said later they had heard yelling, but assumed the owners were having a domestic argument so they did not respond.

Meanwhile, another believer Gokhan and his wife had a leisurely morning. He slept in till 10, ate a long breakfast and finally around 12:30 he and his wife arrived at the office. The door was locked from the inside, and his key would not work. He phoned and though it had connection on his end he did not hear the phone ringing inside. He called cell phones of his brothers and finally Ugur answered his phone. “We are not at the office. Go to the hotel meeting. We are there. We will come there,” he said cryptically. As Ugur spoke Gokhan heard in the telephone’s background weeping and a strange snarling sound. He phoned the police, and the nearest officer arrived in about five minutes. He pounded on the door, “Police, open up!” Initially the officer thought it was a domestic disturbance. At that point they heard another snarl and a gurgling moan. The police understood that sound as human suffering, prepared the clip in his gun and tried over and over again to burst through the door. One of the frightened assailants unlocked the door for the policeman, who entered to find a grisly scene.

Tilman and Necati had been slaughtered, practically decapitated with their necks slit from ear to ear. Ugur’s throat was likewise slit and he was barely alive.

Three assailants in front of the policeman dropped their weapons.

Meanwhile Gokhan heard a sound of yelling in the street. Someone had fallen from their third story office. Running down, he found a man on the ground, whom he later recognized, named Emre Gunaydin. He had massive head trauma and, strangely, was snarling. He had tried to climb down the drainpipe to escape, and losing his balance had plummeted to the ground. It seems that he was the main leader of the attackers. Another assailant was found hiding on a lower balcony.

To untangle the web we need to back up six years. In April 2001, the National Security Council of Turkey (Milli Guvenlik Kurulu) began to consider evangelical Christians as a threat to national security, on equal footing as Al Quaida and PKK terrorism. Statements made in the press by political leaders, columnists and commentators have fueled a hatred against missionaries who they claim bribe young people to change their religion.

After that decision in 2001, attacks and threats on churches, pastors and Christians began. Bombings, physical attacks, verbal and written abuse are only some of the ways Christians are being targetted. Most significant is the use of media propaganda.

From December 2005, after having a long meeting regarding the Christian threat, the wife of Former Prime Minister Ecevit, historian Ilber Ortayli, Professor Hasan Unsal, Politician Ahmet Tan and writer/propogandist Aytunc Altindal, each in their own profession began a campaign to bring the public’s attention to the looming threat of Christians who sought to “buy their children’s souls”. Hidden cameras in churches have taken church service footage and used it sensationally to promote fear and antagonism toward Christianity.

In an official televised response from Ankara, the Interior Minister of Turkey smirked as he spoke of the attacks on our brothers. Amid public outrage and protests against the event and in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of thought, media and official comments ring with the same message, “We hope you have learned your lesson. We do not want Christians here.”

It appears that this was an organized attack initiated by an unknown adult tarikat leader. As in the Hrant Dink murder in January 2007, and a Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, minors are being used to commit religious murders because public sympathy for youth is strong and they face lower penalties than an adult convicted of the same crime. Even the parents of these children are in favor of the acts. The mother of the 16 year old boy who killed the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro looked at the cameras as her son was going to prison and said, “he will serve time for Allah.”

The young men involved in the killing are currently in custody. Today news reported that they would be tried as terrorists, so their age would not affect the strict penalty. Assailant Emre Gunaydin is still in intensive care. The investigation centers around him and his contacts and they say will fall apart if he does not recover.

The Church in Turkey responded in a way that honored God as hundreds of believers and dozens of pastors flew in as fast as they could to stand by the small church of Malatya and encourage the believers, take care of legal issues, and represent Christians to the media.

When Susanne Tilman expressed her wish to bury her husband in Malatya, the Governor tried to stop it, and when he realized he could not stop it, a rumor was spread that “it is a sin to dig a grave for a Christian.” In the end, in an undertaking that should be remembered in Christian history forever, the men from the church in Adana (near Tarsus), grabbed shovels and dug a grave for their slain brother in an un-tended hundred year old Armenian graveyard. Ugur was buried by his family in an Alevi Muslim ceremony in his hometown of Elazig, his believing fiance watching from the shadows as his family and friends refused to accept in death the faith Ugur had so long professed and died for. Necati’s funeral took place in his hometown of Izmir, the city where he came to faith. The darkness does not understand the light. Though the churches expressed their forgiveness for the event, Christians were not to be trusted. Before they would load the coffin onto the plane from Malatya, it went through two separate xray exams to make sure it was not loaded with explosives. This is not a usual procedure for Muslim coffins.

Necati’s funeral was a beautiful event. Like a glimpse of heaven, thousands of Turkish Christians and missionaries came to show their love for Christ, and their honor for this man chosen to die for Christ. Necati’s wife Shemsa told the world, “His death was full of meaning, because he died for Christ and he lived for Christ… Necati was a gift from God. I feel honored that he was in my life, I feel crowned with honor. I want to be worthy of that honor.”

Boldly the believers took their stand at Necati’s funeral, facing the risks of being seen publicly and likewise becoming targets. As expected, the anti-terror police attended and videotaped everyone attending the funeral for their future use. The service took place outside at Buca Baptist church, and he was buried in a small Christian graveyard in the outskirts of Izmir.

Two assistant Governors of Izmir were there solemnly watching the event from the front row. Dozens of news agencies were there documenting the events with live news and photographs. Who knows the impact the funeral had on those watching? This is the beginning of their story as well. Pray for them. In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, Susanne Tilman in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. “Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do,” she said, wholeheartedly agreeing with the words of Christ on Calvary (Luke 23:34).

In a country where blood-for-blood revenge is as normal as breathing, many many reports have come to the attention of the church of how this comment of Susanne Tilman has changed lives. One columnist wrote of her comment, “She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do.” The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. What will happen to this church, this light in the darkness? Most likely it will go underground. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church. Should we not be concerned for that great city of Malatya, a city that does not know what it is doing? (Jonah 4:11)

When our Pastor Fikret Bocek went with a brother to give a statement to the Security Directorate on Monday they were ushered into the Anti-Terror Department. On the wall was a huge chart covering the whole wall listing all the terrorist cells in Izmir, categorized. In one prominent column were listed all the evangelical churches in Izmir. The darkness does not understand the light. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” (Acts 17:6)

Please pray for the Church in Turkey. “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverence,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.

The Church is better having lost our brothers; the fruit in our lives, the renewed faith, the burning desire to spread the gospel to quench more darkness in Malatya …all these are not to be regretted. Pray that we stand strong against external opposition and especially pray that we stand strong against internal struggles with sin, our true debilitating weakness.

This we know. Christ Jesus was there when our brothers were giving their lives for Him. He was there, like He was when Stephen was being stoned in the sight of Saul of Tarsus.

Someday the video of the deaths of our brothers may reveal more to us about the strength that we know Christ gave them to endure their last cross, about the peace the Spirit of God endowed them with to suffer for their beloved Savior. But we know He did not leave their side. We know their minds were full of Scripture strengthening them to endure, as darkness tried to subdue the unsubduable Light of the Gospel. We know, in whatever way they were able, with a look or a word, they encouraged one another to stand strong. We know they knew they would soon be with Christ.

We don’t know the details. We don’t know the kind of justice that will or will not be served on this earth.

But we pray-- and urge you to pray-- that someday at least one of those five boys will come to faith because of the testimony in death of Tilman Geske, who gave his life as a missionary to his beloved Turks, and the testimonies in death of Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, the first martyrs for Christ out of the Turkish Church.

Reported by Darlene N. Bocek (24 April 2007)


A preface from Turkish World Outreach:

We received a few emails saying some elements in "A letter to the Global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna" were exaggerated. However, since none of the messages stated what was thought to be exaggerated, we did not send a retraction. Instead, we contacted the pastor and his wife who prepared the message and shared the negative email messages we had received. The spouses of the men who were slain reportedly say they want people around the world to know what took place, and the real objections appear to be from foreign workers who understandably feel threatened by unwanted exposure to their mission work. In addition, some people felt the graphic details of the torture the men experienced (though apparentlyfactual) should be omitted. The following corrections were sent by Pastor Bocek and his wife, and we have made these corrections in the attached text. Thank you for your prayers. - Steve H.

Dear Friends,

We are amazed at how quickly the Global Church communicated the message of our friends' deaths. Thank you for your continued prayers for Semsa, Susanne and the Church in Turkey.

We need to make a couple of corrections on the letter we sent out.

First, if you forward the letter again, due to sensitivity issues please take all the details of the torture off, replacing it with "They were brutally tortured for 3 hours" and ask your friends who you have forwarded the previous email to do the same. Also, later in the article where it says their throats were slit "from ear to ear, practically decapitated" we are not sure of the actual size of the cuts, so please delete those words from the letter as well. We won't know actual details until autopsy reports are made public; news reports and articles we were basing our information on were possibly exaggerated.

Second, my faulty estimating mistake put the word "thousands" when in fact there were only about 800 people at Necati's funeral.

Third, I made mistakes in names. Susanne Geske (not Susanne Tilman), and Tilmann not Tilman.

If you can make those changes, and pass on the information I'd appreciate it.

As a wonderful follow-up, we know for a fact that three people in the last week have committed their hearts to Christ in response to the sufferings our friends went through: John 12: 24-25 I tell you the truth, unless a kernal of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds. The man who loves His life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Darlene Bocek for The Protestant Church of Smyrna