Only One Life

I avoid “Christianese” like the plague. I can speak it fluently, but it’s not preachingmy native language. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bonafide Jesus freak. It’s just that those who speak code seldom reach anyone but themselves. Think of the street corner preacher, shouting, “Wo unto ye!” Not a lot of people stop and say, “Forsooth! Art thou addressing me?”

And yet, when a heart is ready to hear, it can hear in any language.

The Institute of the Arts was a tiny academy offering classes in dance, drama, music, and art. And I was its new Artistic Director. I was way too young, but that didn’t matter because I was 20-something and knew everything.

We occupied the middle floor of a three storey building on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. The bottom floor was home to The Church of the Highway.

It was also home to the restrooms.

I stopped by with some supplies the Sunday before we opened, and went downstairs to use the men’s. As I entered the shoebox lobby, I heard a painfully un-tuned piano being pounded, and peeked through the church’s doorway. Mrs. Potter was just finishing leading the Rev. Potter in a final hymn.

Rev. Potter got up and welcomed the congregation (Mrs. Potter), then led them (her) in a prayer and proceeded to preach loudly and fervently, rolling his r’s and pounding the pulpit, while Mrs. Congregation shouted hallelujahs.

I ducked into the restroom. There was a plaque on the wall that read, “Only one life, ‘Twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last” (C. T. Studd). I was not a believer at the time because, as I said, I already knew everything. So I took the plaque down and put it in a drawer.

That was a proclamation of war. Every day Rev. Potter would put the plaque back up. And every day I would take it down. Sometimes several times a day.

Meanwhile, The Church of the Highway was running out of money. A congregation with only one member can’t last forever. Neither can an arts academy with only a few dozen students. Rev. Potter must have been losing confidence.

I know I was.

More and more, my smoke-and-mirrors sense of purpose was beginning to fail. Who was I? Why was I? There had to be more to life than me. My foundation of self was giving way and I was starting to fall through to the floor below. So, I started reading the Bible.

One night, after reading the words, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3), I rushed downstairs 5f27b753a95b2b1ccbfec8cabdc3fd15and pulled Rev. Potter’s plaque off the wall. But I didn’t put it in the drawer. I held it to my heart and recited, “Only one life, ‘Twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” And then I cried. Because as corny and religious as the words were, I’d finally realized they were true.

I’ve never doubted my purpose since then.

So thank you, Rev. Potter. Your congregation has two members now.

But you have to get that piano tuned!

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Blessed are the Meek!


Have a meek week!

Also check out: Dare to be Meek!

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No Room for Death


              “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”                ~Clarence W. Hall

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi

“There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.”
~Emily Bronte

He has risen!

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My 40th Spiritual Birthday

41 years now. I say these words every year. I live them every day.

Mitch Teemley

I walked into a church for the first time in my life on Easter morning 40 years ago. I’d never before heard the words “He is risen” or the traditional response “He is risen indeed!” much less said them. As I spoke those words I sensed that my life would be Resurrectionchanged forever. Mark Twain said the two most important days of your life are “the day you’re born and the day you find out why.” Easter 1976 was the day I found out why.

Is the Easter story your story? Or is it just Jesus’ story? Faith, real faith, is not a spectator sport. It’s up-to-your-cleats-in-the-mud participation. Jesus’ prayer for his followers–the reason He died and rose again–was “so that they may be one, as we (He and the Father) are one…so that the world may know.” (John 17:22-23)  People need to see Easter in us!

Do others catch fire when…

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Q. What’s wrong with this picture?


A. It should have been you (and me).

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ~Romans 3:23

“But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  ~Romans 5:8

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  ~John 15:13

Yes, it truly is a Good Friday.

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Death Loses

Little girl...skullWe are born in the shadow of death. No one gets out of here alive. But 2,000 years ago, Jesus signed death’s death warrant.

On the night before his crucifixion he taught his disciples to live in the light of this new reality. Breaking bread, he handed it to them and said, “I’m offering myself in your place. So that you might live. Never forget this.” (Luke 22:19–paraphrase)

Shadows are made by the absence of light. It’s your choice whether to live in death’s shadow…

Or in the light.

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The Wishing Map 60

Is there someone you share a secret language with? Someone without whom you would feel alone in the world?

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

Note: To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Fourteen: Two Spoos (Continued)

Previously: Feeling completely alienated from their friends and from one another, Gina and Zack headed home.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

Mom and Zack got home at 8:43. Zack excused himself and shuffled up the stairs. He sat in his room staring at the stacks of perfectly categorized comic books for half an hour.

There was a sudden knock.

“Can’t…not dressed…in bed…”

The door opened. It was Gina. “Spoo?”

Spoo was the universal form of address in a language known only to Zack and Gina Dore; they had spoken it as far back as they could remember. There were other oo words, as well.

“Moo,” Zack answered.

Gina crossed over and sat next to him on the bed. She put her arm around him. He didn’t respond, but he didn’t pull away either.

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