Thursday, November 10, 2022

You Can Never Go Home Again - A Walk Among the Tombstones - Purity 885


You Can Never Go Home Again - A Walk Among the Tombstones -  Purity 885

Purity 885 11/10/2022 Purity 885 Podcast

Purity 885 on YouTube: 

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a lamp post illuminated pathway leading to the Oswego River reflecting the multicolored lights of the city, all underneath the relatively white and pure light of the full moon comes to us from yours truly as I decided to go a walk into the night to revisit some old familiar haunts in my alma mater’s city. 

Well, it’s Thursday and as different as today is from most Thursdays I wanted to be consistent in my efforts to encourage others to stay on or to get on the path of Christian Discipleship by sharing another photo of yet another pathway as a visual representation of my sentiment that life is a journey to be walked out and it is best done in the presence of God, specifically through a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior.  

Yeah, after last night’s walk through Oswego’s Riverwalk and some of the familiar haunts on the Oswego’s West Side, I am feeling somewhat nostalgic and disturbed about what I saw and what I felt as I walked through the shadows of Oswego’s streets and my contemplation of my college days in the distant past.  

A lot has changed since my college days and my last visit to Oswego. I am no longer the person I used to be when I lived in Oswego, and no I won’t just say “went to college in Oswego” because that would cheapen the truth of my experience. 

From 1990 to 1994, although somewhat sheltered and provided for by the generosity of my family who paid for my “studies”, I had the opportunity to really explore who I was and who I wanted to be for the first time without the shadow of my family, of being just one of those “Clark boys”, impacting how others or how I myself, saw me.  

I got to be “me” for the first time in my life and it was in those years that the small dream to be a writer, that really began after reading Stephen King when I was thirteen, started to blossom and shape who I thought I was.  I saw myself as born of the same stock as Stephen King, Earnest Hemmingway, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, and even William Shakespeare.  I fell in love literature and the idea of being a writer but as bold as I was to fill my portfolio with wild experiences of running into the night, I didn’t really have a direction and certainly have the disciplines to write on a consistent basis. 

Even though I now write six days a week, what!,  I failed at the most basic level, that writers write!, right?. For all my confidence and courage to question authority, to anarchically defy it,  and to push the boundaries of my experiences, I was sheepish in actually pursuing writing. It was an unknow and unfamiliar path I was in love with, and I was afraid to follow it because I didn’t know where it was going to go, and I felt inadequate in light of the writers’ talent that I admired.    

Also I had really tied myself up in knots in terms of addiction. While I prided myself as being able to handle my liquor and to do the drugs and not let the drugs do me, the not so pleasant consequences to wild living and the resultant dependency revealed that I wasn’t as free as I thought. But that would only take divine intercession and 25 years to figure out.  

On last night’s tour of Oswego, I started with a sense of excitement and exhilaration as the crisp blowing winds coming off of the Oswego River reminded of my youthful exuberance for the night.  I gloried in those first steps of how wonderful the River looked and how good God was to safely bring me here to experience the beauty of the moment and I thanked God for the experience.  

But then I walked on down to the familiar haunts on Water Street, that were no longer familiar, and discovered not only disappointment and a sense of grief over the things that had changed but also felt shame and regret and deep sympathy for younger me, who was oh so ignorant, oh so lost.   Old City Hall was a favorite drinking establishment of mine on Water Street back in the day but while the building is still there it doesn’t appear to be to be a bar, or anything else, today.  Across the Street, The Ferris Wheel another less preferred bar is still in business, but as I chose Wednesday as the day of my return, downtown Oswego was a veritable ghost town, which I was actually glad for.  

I don’t think the party scene is, in terms of alcohol, is anywhere near what it was in the 1990’s in Oswego, but I was glad that I didn’t have to navigate around groups of college students out on the streets seeking for thrills.  And the solitary, dark, coldness, really brought home that those days in my past in Oswego are over, and that person of who I was back then have died.  

But that’s a good thing. I’m alive in Christ and a whole lot smarter than I used to be.  

As sad as seeing how things had changed, how businesses and buildings themselves were just gone,  I was glad that there was no nostalgic pull to return to the days of old.

But with that said, my wanderings did bring me to visit a few sites that I fondly remembered. I passed what I believe were a couple of sorority houses back in 1990s t and a house where my friends had lived on West Third Street,  But again these buildings weren’t sorority houses anymore and my friends had moved out nearly 30 years ago, 30 years… 

Although I didn’t quite know where I was going last night, I did have a plan. I always loved Oswego’ Old Style movie theatre on West 2nd Street, as a pretense to get me out of my motel room way out near the shopping centers on the east side, I decided to go see a movie. I ended up nodding off to Prey for the Devil, which is not exactly high praise, because I figured it might give a couple of jump scares and I could consider it as more research for spiritual warfare. 

But before the movie, I had this pull to “get to the house”.  I was a member of a fraternity and that command to “get to the house” that would yell at pledges was always answered by me eventually while a student and as alumni.  The house was where to go. Brothers were there. Parties, fun times, and women were there! Get to the house!

So I followed that call.  

But the thing is, that while my fraternity still exists, “The House” at 30 West 5th Street was burned down by an arsonist during winter break of 1992.  Although there was initially talk of rebuilding, the fraternity eventually sold the land and bought a new much smaller, rather comparatively dismal, new house. 

So as I walked through the shadows of the night and the recollection of the past, I was a man without a home but still called to go.  No one has done anything with the property at 30 West 5th Street. Someone put up a doorway trellis where our pathway once led up to the stairs of what was a mammoth house.   So I took a photo of it, like someone taking a photo of a loved one’s tombstone.  (if you would like to see all the sights from last night’s wanderings I am sharing a link to my Facebook post that presents them. The last photo in the collection is the Trellis, it’s a little creepy.”

Photos From Oswego on Facebook

So while the walk through the tombstones of my past in the city of Oswego was a little sad, and the movie barely succeeded in keeping me awake,  I walk away from it all with a sense of gratitude and gladness.  

I loved my times in Oswego even thought they were severely worldly and broken in light of what I have come to know about the Lord and the meaning of life,  but that was my life.  I’m glad I searched for who I was back then. I’m glad I was bold and courageous in establishing “me”.

In truth, although I have regrets about the bad things that happened and the fact that my fear, feelings of inadequacies, and addictions kept me from following my dream, I can’t say that I didn’t give it a try. I tried to live according to world told me that would lead to my happiness but when you are following a lie it doesn’t matter how earnest you are, or aren’t, in pursuing it.  A lie can never lead to truth, and it shouldn’t be surprising that doesn’t bring peace either.  

But God is good, and He was gracious to show me the only thing that matters in life is knowing Him and living according to His ways.  

All the parties, friends, and excitement of youth are good for a season, but time marches on and that progression really reveals that we were living in an illusion. To quote John Cougar Mellencamp’s Jack & Diane: “Changes come around real soon, make us women and men”.   So we can’t stay there in the good old days, that were really a lie, a fleeting moment of our lives that were based bad information.

However, we don’t have to be sad about moving on into the hard truths about growing older and having to provide for ourselves. 

That is of course, if we really pursue the truth and seek the mystery of God.  The good news is unlike last nights journey through the night, when we seek the Lord things don’t get darker, things get brighter as God will reveal just how good He is and how good our lives can be when we stay in His presence and follow where he leads.  

So keep waling and talking with God. If you aren’t doing that, get on that pathway that leads to life and life more abundantly. You don’t have to deny your past, but you can get past it by coming to understand the depths of what we didn’t know and how much better God’s way is for us.     


Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Galatians 6:7 (NLT2)
7  Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Today’s verse urges us to not be misled into thinking we can somehow avoid God’s justice and teaches us that we will indeed reap what we sow.  

Okay the verse says harvest what you plant, and actually I would encourage everyone to check out the New King James version of this verse, and to use the NKJV as your foundational reference if you study the NLT.

Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

So as you can see, the NLT says the same things, basically, but it is different. Study all the versions of the Bible if you like but be assured that if you consult more than one version and study the whole counsel of God, you won’t go astray.  

As for going astray, that reminds me of my college days where among other worldly philosophies, I believe dthat “rules were made to be broken” but I always had the hopes that my cleverness would keep my violations hidden or at least keep my safe from prosecution and suffering.  

But it didn’t, I was arrested and changed once, detained and questioned and let go on a few occasions. I also suffered the negative physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences for my rebellious and wild living. 

As much as I may have “gotten away with” things in some areas, I didn’t fully realize that there was no getting away from what I planted.  In some way or fashion, I, and everyone of us will reap what we sow.  

Cause and effect relationship show us this in the natural, but we should really be concerned with the unseen, our futures and where we will stand when God calls us to give account of our lives.  

No matter how much you get away with in life and no matter how skilled you are at keeping negative consequences at bay in this life,  the jig is up when you die, as the word tells us that it is appointed for men to die once and then to be judged. 

Sorry those who believe in reincarnation – one life only.

Sorry Atheists, there is a God, and He will judge you whether you believe in Him or not. 

And sorry,  if you don’t make Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life,  there will be hell to pay.  

You won’t avoid God’s justice and you will ultimately reap what you sow.  

So, trust in Jesus, rejoice over your salvation, but be sure to take today’s verse to heart in all its implications by also repenting our old rule braking ways and follow the Lord’s plan for your life, your sanctification.


As always, I invite all to go to where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

The Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 6

On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life

The Hiddenness of Practicing Piety

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:16–18).

Jesus takes it for granted that disciples will keep the pious practice or exercise [Übung] of fasting. The life of a disciple requires the strict practice of austerity. The only purpose of such practices [exercitia] is to make disciples more willing and more joyous in following the designated path and doing the works required of them. The selfish and lethargic will, which resists being of service, is disciplined; the flesh is chastened and punished. The practice of austerity makes me feel the estrangement of my Christian life from the world. A life which remains without any ascetic discipline, which indulges in all the desires of the flesh as long as they are “permitted” by the justitia civilis [civil order], will find it difficult to enter the service of Christ. Satiated flesh is unwilling to pray and is unfit for self-sacrificing service.

So a disciple’s life requires strict external discipline. This is not to suggest that the will of the flesh can be broken by discipline. The daily death of the old self cannot be achieved by anything other than faith in Jesus. But persons of faith, disciples whose will is already broken, whose old selves have died to Jesus Christ, do know precisely the rebellion and daily pride of their flesh. They know their lethargy and lack of discipline and know that to be the source of arrogance which must be conquered. This takes place in daily and extraordinary practice of discipline. The disciples are meant when it is said that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Therefore, “watch and pray.”[192] The spirit knows the path of discipleship and is ready to follow it, but the flesh is too fearful; the path is too difficult for it, too uncertain, too arduous. So the spirit falls silent. The spirit affirms Jesus’ commandment to love one’s enemies unconditionally, but flesh and blood are too strong, so that the commandment does not become the deed. Thus in daily and extraordinary exercise and discipline, the flesh must learn to understand that it has no rights of its own. The daily, orderly exercise of prayer helps in this. So does daily meditation on the word of God, as do all sorts of practices of physical discipline and austerity.

At first, the resistance of the flesh against these daily humiliations comes frontally; then later it comes hidden behind the word of the Spirit, that is, in the name of evangelical freedom. The flesh’s resistance to the word of Jesus becomes evident whenever evangelical freedom from legalistic coercion, from self-martyrdom, and mortification is played off against legitimate evangelical use of discipline, exercises, and asceticism; whenever lack of discipline and disorder in prayer, in using scripture, or in one’s physical life are justified in the name of Christian freedom. In such circumstances people have lost sight of the fact that daily life in discipleship is foreign to the world. They have also lost sight of the joy and the true freedom which genuine discipline gives to the life of disciples. Christians will have to attack the resistance of their flesh whenever they recognize that they have failed in their service, that their willingness has weakened, that they have become guilty influencing the lives of others or causing the guilt of others, that their joy in God is fading, that their strength for prayer is no longer present. Christians who recognize that will try to get ready for better service through spiritual exercises, fasting, and prayer (Luke 2:37; 4:2; Mark 9:29; 1 Cor. 7:5). The objection that Christians should take refuge in faith and scripture and forsake asceticism is without any merit. It is without mercy and has no power to help. What is a life of faith, if not an endless manifold struggle of the spirit against the flesh?[195] How can anyone live in faith whom prayer makes slothful, who is tired of scripture, or whose joy in God is stolen by sleeping, eating, or sexual desire?[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 158–160.

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