To quote a not so famous author… “It’s been a helluva couple of years!” He had been up and down the road in these past two plus years and it seemed like no matter how hard he tried or how much he prayed… the bad stuff just kept winning!

He got to the place where he began to doubt everything that had been holding him steady for more than half a century! Every time those closest to him tried to help all of their effort on his behalf, their prayers, their tears… nothing seemed to make any difference.

Then one day as he sat trying to pen the next chapter to a book he was engaged to write he found there were no more words. What had come so easy to him for so any years were as if the well was dry… he had nothing left to say.

As he sad, frustrated, discouraged with no fight left, an old man from a poor upbringing, deep in the Appalachian hills who had maybe a elementary school level of education walked by, pulled up a chair next to this man and just sat. For what seemed like the longest time. Didn’t say a word.

Finally, the author looked over at the man and said, “Is there something I can do for you?”

“No. Thank ya kindly. I’m fine.”

The author went back to staring at the blank page in front of him and in exasperation said out loud to no one in particular… “I give up.”

The old man who had appeared to be sleeping slowly raised his head and said, “What did you say son?”

“I said I give up! I’m tired of trying no matter what I do everything turns out wrong.”

The old man leaned in toward the author and looked him in the eye. The old man’s face showed a lot of years of a hard life, eyes so worn out, it was like he had all that he could take. And he said, “Did you hear about that poor, teenage girl, got pregnant ‘fore she was married… she had dream that her baby was going to be somebody really special. She got encouragement once in awhile that maybe just maybe this little boy might be special. He was to her anyway. Not much after the boy was a teenager, the baby daddy died and Momma was all alone again, poor, more kids now and nothin’ seemed to go her way. Her boy he grew up and took off like most do… oh he’d stop by once in awhile and check on her but he was gone a lot. She heard rumors that he had either been arrested or he was wanted for somethin’… She still loved though and she believed he was gonna be something special. Still her heart hurt every day when he wasn’t there and she didn’t hear much other than he was in trouble again. Finally she heard he was arrested and whatever it was he had done he was gonna be executed for it. Her heart crashed. She was as broken as any mother could ever be. Everything she’d ever hoped for was gone. She was ready to give up. She even showed up on the day he was to be killed and she couldn’t talk to him, couldn’t get close to tell him just one more time how much she loved him. Then as she looked out across the crowd, she could see her son lift his head and look toward her… She wasn’t sure but she thought he smiled and he said… “Sunday’s comin'”

With that the old man leaned back in his seat and said, “You know, I’ve had kind of a tough life. Most of my troubles I brought on myself.” With tears streaming down his cheeks, he went on… “But I remembered that story about that young girl who got pregnant and every time I’d feel like the bad stuff was winning I just remembered her son’s not so last words to her… Sunday’s comin’,,,”

With that the old man got up and walked away. The author sat there staring out after him. He closed his laptop and set it aside and just stared out toward the horizon as the sun began to set. As he turned back he saw that the old man had left a small New Testament sitting on his chair. The author picked it up and read the note scribbled in a simple hand inside… Be Ready Sunday’s coming.

LIFE on the rocks

The following monograph is a combination of an analogy given to me by a Christian brother as we discussed lives lived in the midst of storms and a slice of my own consideration of the subject. That latter comes with a bit of literary license and an apology to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle..

We understand that for many of our days we have sunshine and even after a storm we have rainbows. However, for those of us who have been kicking around this old world for more than a generation or two, we know that sometimes life brings intermittent showers, just enough to allow us to dance in the puddles and sometimes the rain feels more like a downpour… enough to keep our eyes off the dancing in the puddles and beginning to look for higher ground. Then there are times when tsunamis hit, and we are washed out to sea amid a gale that seems to have as its sole purpose to overwhelm us and drag us down to the dark depths of despair.

As we sat in a local restaurant just talking and figuring out the deeper mysteries of the universe, my new friend sensed that I was in the depth of the sea and it was as if I had an anchor from a battleship tied to my ankles trying its hardest to drag me down. It had seemed, at times since my terminal diagnosis that the Kraken had come upon my ship and reduced it to driftwood, leaving me to fend off the crashing waves and the irrepressible currents. He asked me if I had heard the analogy of the rocks. When I replied that I had not, my friend began:

         ‘Picture if you will that life is a large body of water, whatever size you might choose it to be. Sometimes it is a beautiful setting, and you find yourself floating along in life with your goal to reach the far shore where stands Christ waiting for you and watching your every moment. Then times get rough and the smooth body of water with the light current picks up and before long you are caught up in raging waters that cause you to gasp for air, sometimes taking in large gulps of seawater. Your arms flail about trying to make some kind of headway or to at least to keep your head above water. Then come the rocks.’

         ‘Most of us,’ my friend went on, ‘see the rocks as more trouble upon which we will crash and hurt ourselves, so we fight like crazy to avoid them. It is important,’ he said, ‘to see the rocks in a different way. They are tiny islands in a sea of despair. They are the young mother and her five-year-old who helped you load your groceries and smiled at you saying, ‘have a nice day’. They might be a larger rock. It is your grandson running at you full tilt when he sees you, grabbing on to you and hugging you as tight as he can, enjoying the kiss you plant on the top of his head. These ‘rocks’ are places where you can grab on, even pull yourself up onto for a time and rest, if even for a moment. Still they are there to help you, not dangers to avoid but momentary rest stops to help you regain your strength, your resolve, your outlook for the next battle against the waves. Yes, we have to slide back off the rock and continue our push toward Christ but along the way there will always be rocks upon which to rest.’

         Completing his story, my friend sat back and, if we were in a Conan Doyle story, this would be where we both grab our shag of tobacco and refill our pipes, lighting them and allowing the room to be filled with the satisfying aroma of a decent black shag tobacco. Once satisfied that our pipes were good for a full bowl, we would sit back and consider the analogy as to how it fit our circumstances.

         I confess that I long for a time again when I could enjoy a pipe full of tobacco or at least the pleasant smell of such a peaceful combination of pipe tobacco, smoke and the night air.

  The analogy is a well-received one though I take issue with it on Christological grounds and perhaps a hermeneutical argument as to what God’s word says  about Christ’s intercessory role in particular. I believe that the Word of God finds Christ more either swimming alongside us, in a boat next to us seeking to pull us in or laying out the rocks for us and holding our hands as we access each one. When Peter sank into the depths while trying to walk on water to Christ, Jesus was there to reach down and pull him out not cheer him on from the boat or the shore. That, though, is the view from a scholarly viewpoint not the viewpoint of someone who is dragging along a chain under water while trying to survive the gale.

That Christ sometimes feels far away from us as we struggle, though, is not the point of the story but rather the rocks. God gives us rocks! Most of your rocks may come from family but maybe they will be ones from complete strangers like my encounter with the woman and her five-year-old son. The point is that we will have times where we are struggling in the depths of the seas and we will occasion upon some rocks. The question is what you will do with them and can you let them be your moment of respite before you again continue to swim toward that distant shore we envision as our final rest. It would be great to come upon a great big rock where we could erect a hammock and remain there indefinitely. That unfortunately does not appear to be how this analogy works. Maybe one thing we can do for others who find themselves overcome by the waves is let them share our rock, point them to more rocks of their own, even perhaps be a rock for them when they need a break.

That’s all I have. Just giving you this as something to ruminate on with your next shag of tobacco. But, whatever you decide, may I suggest along with that pleasing pipe of tobacco, order for yourself, LIFE, on the rocks.    

Thank you to Sirisak Nilubon for his powerful art work from


Christmas – celebrated in cultures around the world for over two millennia. On that very first Christmas a young girl, likely terrified about what was happening and what soon would happen as she had been feeling contractions and all the difficulty of early labor while traveling for miles, at best on a small colt. Mary may have wondered why Joseph at least didn’t order an Uber! Then again, there probably were only economy Uber donkeys available now so it wouldn’t have been any better than her colt and they needed to save money. Rome was taxing the palm leaves right off the trees! So Mary kept quiet.

No doubt the angels were protecting her and  helping her along but this was still a natural human birth and pain is part of the process. Her husband Joseph may have been about her age or perhaps even considerably older, the Bible isn’t clear. He helped all he could but sometimes it’s best to just shut up and drive.

But as divine a night as this would become, it was also a very human night. Tired from travel, hungry, labor pains, needing a place just to lay down. Mary needed her husband to find them a place to stay. “Why had he not made reservations ahead of time?” She may have asked herself. All he had to do was call or go on line… oh right, that’s a couple of thousand years away…  Mary thinks, “He could have sent someone a couple of weeks ago to go into town and made the arrangements “ The fact was he had not and now here they were in a very crowded city with no friends and not enough money to make a difference to an inn keeper this night. Mary was actually happy to have the bed of hay and straw to lay on, she would have taken anything at this point.

What was about to happen in this small cave that doubled as a barn would change the entire world forever. But even then, over two thousand years ago on the very first Christmas God was thinking of YOU and of me and of all of those down through the centuries for whom He sent His Son, Jesus to be their Savior, to receive and give them love, grace and forgiveness.  Yes, we were on God’s mind this night so long ago and you know what is also so amazing? Every single moment from eternity past until now, every moment …you and I have been on God’s mind, on His heart. With all that is going on in the world, we were on God’s mind and in His heart.

The Bible teaches that we can grieve, that is we can break the heart of,  the Holy Spirit who is of God and who IS God. Our actions, my actions break the heart of the omnipotent Ruler, Master, Creator of the Universe and all that ever was and all that will ever be. Why does He care so much that He gave His only Son to come to earth that night as a newborn baby, to live thirty plus years here teaching, healing, traveling, fishing, laughing and crying… being human all so that He could give His perfect life in our place and die so we may live? He came back again to life and lives now forever… that one night over two thousand years ago, Christ came and we can have a Merry Christmas! He came so that we might have LIFE and have it abundantly, the Bible says. That we can live with and for Him from now until eternity is over.. which it never is!

Sure you and I will break His heart over and over again but if our heart is right with His, those times will become fewer and He will always forgive us. I know I have not been the child God would want me to be, not even close. It seems the farther I travel in life the more I have the capacity for screwing up… are you like that too? I am betting I’m not the only one. We always seem to hurt those who love us the most and no one loves us more than God.

So, my Christmas wish for you is to get to know Christ. If you already know Him, get to know Him better. How? You ask. Spend more time with Him in the coming year that is my plan at least. I’m hoping that by spending more time with Christ and less time meddling in what the world has to offer, I will hurt God less and I will hurt those who love me the most less too.

Have a very Merry – Christ filled – Christmas! “Yule” be glad you did!

VOYAGE of the Starship Genesis Two Seven

Passenger Log                       Star-date 25 Novembers 2022

Not Alone

Greetings fellow travelers…    I believe that was a line from an opening of The Night Gallery with Rod Serling many ‘moons’’ ago (Pun intended!) We will get back to the story behind that photo for the Genesis 2:7 Voyage. First though it is time to celebrate Thanksgiving! Isn’t it incredible the speed at which this year has flown past? Many people I know are very happy to see this year fade soon into the history books and begin again. Congratulations to those elected this past election day. Our prayers are with them as they begin their service in a new role or another term to continue the service they have been performing. I think it is truly important we hold these men and women in our prayers. Their jobs are not easy ones. Our nation, our states, and our communities  need  godly leaders who view our world through a biblical lens and fulfill their roles justly. My voyage has allowed me to see the importance of these leaders who are setting the stage for our children’s tomorrows. We have entrusted to them the future and I believe we need to ask our God who holds and shapes those futures to be with them in every decision.

Thanksgiving – the giving of thanks our appropriate response…

A brief note about the Riggs Family Thanksgiving held here today for this corner of the much larger Riggs Family Tree! (Ours is the one with most the nuts in it!) This is to be the last Thanksgiving in this house after almost thirty years of Thanksgivings. By springtime this house will be on the block and be sold. Most of the stuff will be auctioned and will be officially ‘downsized’! Major changes in life come in all forms and such change is  part of the voyage.

30 years ago this photo would have had just Ross, Karin, Heidi, Suzanne, and Sarah… Ross’ Parents Ralph & Glyndyne Riggs and Karin’s Mom Ruth, with Inga, Skeeter and Taylor King  From ten to twenty-eight!

In the photo – Far left Front to Back

Aaron Snyder, Paula Hernandez, Inga King, Nathan Booth, Scarlett Smith, Annabelle Snyder, Fiona DeVore, Audra Booth, Emelia Smith, Ross, Allyson Snyder, Trevor…… back to camera Rhett Smith, Sarah Smith, Taylor King, Cyd DeVore, Dave Snyder, Suzanne Snyder, Leland Riggs, Wesley Riggs, Daniel Riggs, Sarah Riggs with Everly Riggs, Lona DeVore, Andy DeVore, Nick Booth, Heidi Booth (Not pictured Karin Riggs)


David, King of Israel had a very exciting life with many blessings from God during his military career and as the leader of his people. Even with his failures, God called him a man after God’s own heart. Can you think of anything you would long for God to call you more gracious than that? A favorite Psalm of mine I reprint for you here because it fits directly with where my heart is in these last weeks.  

Not Alone: Test Results and a Glass Half Full

Because of medicine changes and on again off again steroids, Dr. N has been keeping a close eye on everything and about two weeks ago I had another PFT, pulmonary function test. My lung capacity is at 66% and my pulmonary function (the ability to move good air into the lungs and eliminate the bad air) is at 62%. These are both down from the last tests and down from last November specifically. I may have those numbers slightly off but no matter you get the gist.

One of the great things about Dr. N is his unrelenting optimism. He doesn’t sugar coat and he calls it like it is but he will always inject something like what he said to me this last time… ‘Yes both the numbers are down but they aren’t as far down as they could be so they aren’t declining as fast as they might…’  So, I take that as good news and thank God for that!

We have to have three consecutive tests to determine a pattern for what to expect in the year ahead… so this is test 1 of that series (the previous ones aren’t used because of the medicine changes during that time).

There were times in these past weeks where I felt very much alone, like the astronaut in the photo. I know during those times that usually the mood swings are due to the changes they are making in the steroids. I also know intuitively I am not alone. Your notes, your calls and your felt prayers help me greatly. Those who text me sometimes every day, your encouragement is so great! I hope the mood swings will subside as I come off the steroids here in the next few weeks. If they don’t then I know for certain I will have a doghouse in the back yard made available to me to stay in!

Another Test

This coming Wednesday I have a sleep study. I will try to prepare for that and make sure I take my Goofy doll and my Coca-Cola blanket both of which are provided by my grandchildren!!! I don’t expect any great revelations that is just to confirm what we already know intuitively. Probably there is a C-PAP in my future.  

I’ve Fallen

I want to thank everyone for your prayers from my recent trip to the ER. I had been feeling poorly all day one day last week. It was as if I was just getting weaker as the day progressed. I went to the Y to get some hot tub time in and when I came out, even with my O2 on but by the time I got to my truck my O2 saturation was down in the 70’s. I got home and made it to the bed but I walked past my in home O2 and failed to pick it up. When I felt strong enough I went to go get it and coming back out of the kitchen I got really dizzy the room began to spin and I fell against the wall with my shoulder. No damage to the wall or my shoulder. I got my bearings and pushed off against the wall to go to the bedroom and immediately the room was spinning and I was face down on the carpet. My phone, of course, was in the bedroom. Thankfully a few weeks ago I began carrying the Life Protect button (yes, yes I know the commercial and I’ve heard all the jokes) This button will pick up anywhere in the world. I hit it and after a coupe of seconds with a computer put me with a live operator who called the squad and then my family and she stayed with me on the line until the paramedics were with me. Long story short, dehydration, medication and some other things took me down. Thankfully no COVID and nothing more serious.     

Merry Christmas –

In case my next Voyage is not out BEFORE and I pray for all of you that God bless you greatly in the coming year. Please pray for  God’s will for me and the family in the year ahead. Uphold the family and those closest to me. Often times I believe their battle is harder than mine.

Love & Prayers


The Old Man in the Stands

Every Friday night in almost every community across the U.S. and on most college campuses each Saturday afternoon in the Fall, history repeats itself.  I invite you to travel with me to the stadium. Feel the brisk, fresh fall air. Hear the noise and excitement. Somewhere off in the distance a drummer and a coronet player are just hitting some notes to a rhythm, no reason. The ticket takers are in place. The concessions stand is open, manned by overworked yet  mostly willing booster club members.. The time is perfect especially if you are young and strong, part of all that is going on.

American High School Football Crowd

Your first step in making our trip is to be yourself.  Not the self which is frustrated by the small event yesterday or the ache you were getting last night as you tried to sleep. You cannot let homework or a work assignment which is eating away your duodenum with an ulcer which is growing .5 mm a day interfere either. Rather, just be you. Be the you which you have been since you can remember being you. This is easier for the senior citizens in the reading audience. Usually by the time we reach ‘senior’ status, each has usually been able to detect the seemingly unageing part of ourselves which feels the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Okay, now we can go to the football game. It is there we will find our friend, the old man in the stands.

If you are currently in high school or college just be your you-you. The you which is you today. If you are beyond college age for any number of years, be the you who was at that game every Friday night as a teenager. You all have your part in mind. Think back and see your hometown crowd. There is always one, at least one, an old man who comes to mind.He never misses a game, no matter what sport. He is faithfully there in all kinds of weather and you know exactly who you are looking at. He is almost always in exactly the same seat.

Here it gets a little tougher because we have to be honest with ourself. The good part is you do not have to tell anyone. What did you think about that old man when you saw him – if you thought about him at all? Allow me to guess… ‘there’s that same cranky (weird, odd) old man. Why does he come all the time? Is he going to stare at the cheerleaders or is he just being anywhere other than home for something to do? Unless he came with someone, very few people talk to him. He doesn’t react to the plays just watches, same with the halftime show. In fact, he barely moves. Sometimes, our particular old man in the stands would be in a cranky mood and take it out loudly against the referees but usually, he just sat. If, by now, you have no recollection of such a man, maybe you were so caught up in all that was going on around you, you simply never even saw him. Maybe you found you so important you missed other things. That is a legitimate answer.

On Friday of this week, I was in the stands watching my grandson play football. I had a few other family members there but mostly it was just my nephew and me near the aisle, just watching the game. I took a moment to look around at the crowd and that is when I noticed it. I was the old man in the crowd. I realize 65 is not that old but in this particular crowd my age was skewing the median by its uniqueness for this crowd. My white hair and beard added to the picture and the oxygen type of tank I wear on my back with a hose up my nose certainly added to my appearance of aged. Because of multiple surgeries I walk slowly more like Lon Chaney’s stand-in than a human being so again it draws attention. I had one nice lady sitting on the aisle as I was making it up the steps caution me to ‘go slow and be careful’ in her most ‘how to talk to the aged and infirm voice’.  I could not shake off the image that I must portray to those around me, particularly the teens either there as spectators or players and cheerleaders. Several I knew but for the purpose here, I’ll focus on those who did not know me. To them, I was that old man. I wondered if they thought the way we had thought as teens and I’m pretty sure they did.

Papaw’s Girls

There was a difference, of course. My granddaughters came up to me during the game and we laughed and talked. They are cheerleaders so that helped my image greatly. I don’t recall ever seeing that with the old man in the stands I remember. That would change some views but still, that perception, expectation, or maybe that prejudice when we see a person who is older, if we are younger, then we seldom take time to imagine them when they were young, vital, involved in the same activities with which teens at this game are now. He was then what they are now. However, they don’t realize how quickly what he is now, they will be then.

But what about our old man? Remember,  the caveat if we are reading this as a senior person, we are not remembering how long it took us to get out of the car and into the stands because of our arthritis, surgeries, shortness of breath, or any other malady. We are remembering our real person the one that doesn’t age but is, I believe, who we are in our soul. That timeless person, who doesn’t think about the white hair and wrinkles but feels the same, is our eternal self. That is who we are in heaven for eternity. So, what about him, our old man in the stands?

Good Night Sweet Prince!

He may be remembering his Friday nights or his Saturday afternoons. He may be feeling the same spirit, the same rush of excitement at the big play as if he were the one crossing the goal line like he did for records long forgotten at his school. Maybe he recalls the thundering crash of bringing down that huge  Tight End during the state finals and how as he hit him it was like every bone in his body reverberated at once and all he saw was stars until halftime! Perhaps he remembers the night at halftime when he was featured as a coronet solo and how scared he was, only a sophomore and doing a solo. The horn may be put

Pep Rally and Bon Fire

away now for decades but that night is as fresh in his mind as ever. He sees the student section and remembers the bon fires and pep rallies. He remembers going to Homecoming with the prettiest girl in the school who, much to his surprise not only said ‘yes’ to Homecoming but said ‘yes’ to marrying him. He saddens for a minute thinking how she’s been gone now these ten years. All of it seems like only yesterday. None of these students he watches on the field have any idea about the game he is playing in his own mind, a game that was picture perfect forty or fifty years before.

I wrote at the beginning that the old man in the stands you recall may have sat emotionless, maybe with a partial smile detectable, or maybe as stern a face as can be made. I suspect the only difference is contentment. As he sits watching the game with memories flooding back as if they are held in the stadium seats and when all the people arrive, those memories are unchained and they flow easily back to the ones occupying that seat. If he believes his life to have been well-spent, then likely he is content. If the opposite is true, he may be overcome with regret for actions not taken, decisions made, hurts caused… too many things of which he cannot let go. Even though those hard memories come inside this magical place, he comes  each game religiously to be stirred again to action or perhaps he sees it as his penitence. How sad.

I have found, as it is my turn to play the iconic role of the old man, lessons learned. First, this time to play the old man comes much too quickly and second, we never notice life’s youthful moments are gone until they’re gone. More importantly, I have two choices evident to me each time I go to the stadium. I am the only one who can choose whether I am coming to be rewarded with wonderful memories of my past or to expect pain. With great memories I can spend an hour or so both enjoying the feats of this young generation and to regale myself with youthful memories that make me smile. This is because I have chosen contentment.  The other choice is to come expecting pain and receive penitence. Still, though one seeks penitence, he chooses to never forgive or forget. Such is a discontented soul. It seeks solace in the pain and it never comes.

For those who know Christ, there is still this decision to make because regardless of how great it is that Christ has paved the way to contentment, Satan puts up Road Closed and Detour signs everywhere to try to make us forget. So, if you are younger and want advice from the old man in the stands… enjoy every moment and live so you won’t face regrets.

For most of my years I could mimic the line from the Sinatra song, ‘regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…’ That is until recently. Under the scourge of a terminal illness I have let slip from me what is perhaps the thing which is easiest to lose and the hardest to regain. I have not held up as well as I should and it is difficult to still see in the eyes of some who mean so much to me such disappointment. This is a regret one cannot shake off like Sinatra might sing. So, I must learn that even with regrets I must seek contentment even if it never comes. If you are where I am and you battle these choices, again get to know He who is Christ. Once you have accepted Christ’s forgiveness… chose memories – no regrets, just right! If regrets remain, reclaim the good memories for claiming the regrets will lead only to a lonely and dark place.

Football Player acknowledges Veterans at game


 It is here I must tell you the story about the man I met and became friends with almost immediately in the men’s restroom at the Wayne County Fair Grounds! I realize how completely odd that sounds. We were, at least, not near the sheep barn. This man I found amazing. Here is how it began. I saw him go in at the same time I did. He was wearing a U.S. Air Force veteran shirt and hat so already we had a connection. As I left a high school age young man went in who apparently knew this other gentleman and they talked inside for a time about the younger man’s thoughts about joining the military and the elder man was attempting to steer him toward the Air Force. Eventually the young man left and soon after the elderly man came out. I introduced myself and told him about Legacy of Honor. Then the best part happened… we talked. This gentleman is 88 years old. He was in the Air Force at the end of the Korean War and was assigned to the crew of a B-29 bomber. By the time he was twenty-two he had been promoted to crew chief of the aircraft and then the aircraft’s engineer. He laughed and said, ‘not bad for a farm boy from Wayne County’.

Had I never taken the time to wait for him to exit the lavatory and strike up a conversation he would have been just another old man in a veteran hat and shirt. Instead I met a new friend who had incredible adventures flying the B-29 thousands of feet higher than it was supposed to be able to fly and so low that the icy waters near Thule, Greenland got sucked into the engines directly of the ocean. I met a new friend who was content with few regrets. Just because one is content with where his lot in life is currently, it doesn’t mean he’s glad those younger days are gone. He is glad the memories are intact.

The old man in the stands will probably always be part of our lives. Maybe it’s time we notice him and learn something from him. It will do both sides good. And if we are the old man, maybe we need to be willing to share our contentment and how we found it and learn the way for dealing with regrets. 


Since there is no way my being in heaven is dependent on what I do then obviously it must be based on what someone else has done and I’m not referring to another sinful mortal like myself who is lighting candles or saying mantras over me to try and get me accepted into heaven.

It has been a while since my last posting to Ministry Minute, my blogs have been involved with the posts from Voyage over on the site dealing with my terminal illness. Current events have taken place though which compel me to return and enter a short piece on the assurance of salvation. For those who follow my post, you would just know that I will start out my writing with a famous movie line.  This one brings us the title of this blog and comes to us in the re-release of some of Clint Eastwood’s most iconic roles. This one, his first ‘Dirty Harry’ movie when his lunch is interrupted by a bank robbery in downtown San Francisco. One of the bad guys is injured and trying to escape. He falls to the pavement, his shotgun within a handbreadth away and ‘Harry’ points his S&W Model 29 6 inch revolver at him and says, “I know what you’re thinking, punk. You’re thinking “did he fire six shots or only five?” Now to tell you the truth I forgot myself in all this excitement. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and will blow you head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself a question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?” The ‘punk’ acquiesces and as Harry walks away the would-be bank robber asks him if he had any bullets left… he says “I gotta know” – click Harry’s gun was empty. That’s a long way around to get to my point but I think you’ll find it worth it!

Allow me to set the stage for you. It is the middle of August, a hot day for anyone and this day, hotter and muggier than most, a definite ‘dog-day afternoon’ but that’s a different  movie with Al Pacino! I have had the honor of officiating funerals for friends, relatives, and some folks I barely knew. There is one thing the family needs and that is the truth of the Bible and Jesus’ own  words that provide a hope for heaven for even His worried and weary followers. On this particular day, however what the family and their friends receive from a pastor who does not believe in the doctrine of grace and those attending instead receive a hodgepodge of a theology not at all based on Scripture. Rather, he shares his belief that there is no way to know for certain if one will go to heaven when they die. Their only hope for heaven is their own good works and maybe, just maybe, if their friend and family member laying in the coffin there in front of them did enough good things and had enough people praying for him, then also to have as a real stroke of luck,   someone standing near Jesus when he arrives at the gate to put in a good word for him. Then, maybe Jesus will let him in.

 I am so glad that God’s Word makes it clear that there is NO WAY I can ever be good enough  for heaven! Whew! That’s settled! I never have to try to work my way into heaven again! I don’t have to because Jesus said that only those who are perfect in their works can get into heaven and that there is no one perfect, not one! There, settled. No sense worrying about that for He said, as Matthew quoted Him, “Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”[i]

Since there is no way my being in heaven is dependent on what I do then obviously it must be based on what someone else has done and I’m not referring to another sinful mortal like myself who is lighting candles or saying mantras over me to try and get me accepted into heaven. The person who has already done everything that needs to be done for me to be in heaven is JESUS. I can lay before you several texts that speak to the issue and persons like that pastor (I use that term loosely) would say I’m ‘proof-texting’ which means just going through and finding Scriptures to back up what I am saying and they would be right if I was taking the verses out of context and twisting their meanings but the meanings in these verses are clear.

Let’s begin with Ephesians 2:8-9  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” That seems fairly clear that our salvation has little or nothing to do with what we have done. Another important verse comes also from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in Chapter 1 let’s just glance at verses 4 through 6, 13 and 14. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.’” Adoptions as sons (daughters). Let me just ask if you know of anyone who was unadopted? Once you are family… you are family. Then in the following verses, “13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Check the part that says, marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit – our guarantee that we are God’s possession.

There is one final set of verses I want you to consider and though the list is very long and could be a long Bible study, which it has been many times before, I’m keeping this one short for your reading pleasure.  This comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. He asks the question as to what can possibly separate us from the love of Christ. Here is Romans 8:38-39, Paul writes, “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I am going to give you one last very short verse which provides me great comfort as I move down the path of this horrific disease that is robbing me of air, the ability to simply breathe. Even now as I sit at my desk in the study where for almost thirty years I’ve been writing and studying, I have to sit here with oxygen being pumped into my nose so I can breathe. Still, as I understand this verse, when I look toward the day when my lungs take their last labored breath of earth’s air and my human eyes with their lenses replaced due to cataracts close in death, I have not reason to fear. Listen to the words of Paul again writing to the church at Corinth concerning his own short time left on earth. He writes in 2 Corinthians 5:8-9, We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” There is no intermediary state, no roaming the earth looking for that one thing we did not complete in this life so we can to on to the next. Immediately, we are ushered from this existence into the very presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. No worries. I am not now, nor will I ever be in this life good enough to merit heaven. That doesn’t mean I quit seeking to grow in faith, that is part of sanctification, growing to be more like Christ each day but I’m doing so because I love Him and want to be like Him. Should any who have been subjected to the false teaching of those who proclaim there is no way to know for certain you  or your loved ones will be in heaven upon your death, I encourage you to study not just these few passages but  get with a solid Bible teaching church and grow in your faith!

1 All Scripture texts have been taken from and are NIV or NKJV.


DOCS GALLORE – The Passenger’s Log-Stardate 7 April 2022

The ‘Lander’ craft of the Starship Genesis two-seven is shown in the photo here to help relate the story of God’s goodness over these past weeks.

Ofev, the drug of choice to battle the onward push of the IPF disease in my lungs has been elusive. First, it was difficult to find and then, once it was found, it was getting the insurance company to approve paying for it. The cost of the medicine runs around $60,000 a year. A phone call from Dr. F’s office this past week informed us that the insurance company had agreed to pick up the tab with us having to pay the co-pay. The co-pay is just under $800 a month Then Dr. F’s staff enrolled us in a program that is designed to help cover co-pay costs. In this case, they are covering 100% of the co-pay. This has certainly been a concern for us and it is a blessing from God to see that it has been covered. Likely The Passenger will begin the new medicine around Easter. The side-effects of this medicine may outweigh its usefulness, particularly since we know it is not expected to cure the disease but simply try to hold it at bay. It will become an issue of quality of life. I remain, however, fully convinced that God will heal me from this disease and I will be present at all of my grandchildren’s weddings!

As this ‘VOYAGE ‘ is penned, the Passenger has been afflicted with a chest cold for the last few days. It may have developed into something worse. (By the time I publish this the real story is known and conveyed here.)

We are off to the hospital (it is the weekend) to get some bloodwork drawn and  an x-ray. A follow-up now as, publishing this was delayed, I can tell you that thankfully, there is no pneumonia found. A second trip this time to see the folks at Primary Care are hitting me with a strong wide-coverage antibiotic trifecta including a great shot in the bum just for good measure! A panel of some sort is being run, that procedure required a swab from the back side of my naval and to access it, the nurse stuck the stick up my nose! Because I was reducing my steroid rate and was now quite low, that likely along with this infection is making my body’s ability to fight it that much more difficult. So, back up to the top of the steroid ladder to take a firepole back down within the next two weeks. I will not need to go to an amusement park this summer, the roller coaster ride I’ve been on now for awhile will suffice quite nicely, thanks!

The doctor’s office reported the results of the bellybutton swab. I cannot begin to spell the name of the virus that has attacked my lungs in addition to the disease already there but it is an aggressive one. The doctor said that with the combination of the two, this particular virus and my disease, it certainly could have killed me. Thank you Lord that it did not!

It’s been an interesting time with doctors, dentists, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers these past couple of weeks. Okay, nothing with the b, b, and c crew but besides the physical maladies, Dr. DW, my eye doctor found at least a partial explanation for my eyesight getting worse and it is an opportunity for him to keep his surgery fingers nimble, a cataract has reappeared on my one eye and that needs removed. And last week, I broke of a section of a molar so the dentist, Dr. F gets to take a ‘crack’ at it! One would think I was trying to get my supersonic-level insurance deductible met in three months!

But, I said this is a report on God’s graciousness.

The eye issue is a quick and easy repair. The broken tooth did not create a root sensitivity.   I was able to see Dr G. for my regular pain management check-up and in that time we discussed the need for me to see Dr. C who did my first and second spinal fusions to address the left leg pain that is keeping me awake at nights, and if necessary, Dr. G will do injections into the trigger points to forestall the pain! However, each and every issue that has come up is treatable with little if any downtime. I can report that God’s goodness is plentiful and fully felt.

As to matters for prayer there are two specifically and a third for good measure.

1. For the family… it is tough on each of them, in their own walk in life whether a young elementary student or the wife of an aged goat, watching the Passenger have to make this Voyage is never easy.

2. For me, being surrounded daily by reminders of my disease, the pills, the oxygen, the  worried looks on faces… is very difficult. I have a need to escape and go from time to time from this reality to another one. At times, it has been to God I must go. I turn off the world and just visit  with Him and there are times that I need to just go somewhere, anywhere for some length of time. I’ve done one such trip with Aaron to Phoenix, or when its warmer, some fishing time on the lake or maybe take an Amtrak ride to somewhere no one but Amtrak goes is the ‘ticket’!

3. Pray for the family as they deal with a Dad who sometimes makes no sense (it’s been like that for decades!) There are times now when I think they look at me and wonder “What in the world is he thinking now?”

Thank you for your continued support. I have no idea what the future holds but I know who holds the future. I commit it to Him and the changes that are coming in my life and the lives of those closest to me and pray that everyone involved will be comforted and even blessed by what may transpire.

In His Precious Love,

The Passenger Ross

LEVIATHAN:Creature of Mystery

LEVIATHAN: a Creature of Mystery

Other than staring out into space, there are few things in nature to help a man understand his diminutive stature in relation to creation then to look out across an open ocean. As long as history records, the ocean has been, for mankind, a place of danger, a place of life-giving food, a place of adventure and a place of mystery. Ancient sources in mythology refer to creatures of the deep that defy explanation or even description. Some of those are even known in theological references specifically, the Leviathan.

Wikipedia has this in regard to Leviathan. “The Leviathan of the Book of Job is a reflection of the older Canaanite Lotan, a primeval monster defeated by the god Baal Hadad. Parallels to the role of Mesopotamian Tiamat defeated by Marduk have long been drawn in comparative mythology, as have been wider comparisons to dragon and world serpent narratives such as Indra slaying Vrtra or Thor slaying Jörmungandr. Leviathan also figures in the Hebrew Bible as a metaphor for a powerful enemy, notably Babylon (Isaiah 27:1). Some 19th-century scholars pragmatically interpreted it as referring to large aquatic creatures, such as the crocodile. The word later came to be used as a term for great whale, and for sea monsters in general.”

Yet, God, Himself, the Creator of all heaven and earth spoke directly of and named Leviathan in his word in several places specifically in talking with Job. God replies to Job‘s challenge to him. God asked him several questions about Job’s own ability to build, create, and control the universe. One of those questions involved Leviathan as we read in Job chapter 41 verse one. God asks Job, “Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?”

God is very clear about this amazing sea creature of His. He extols it’s uniqueness in the following verses:

“Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook? Will it keep begging you for mercy? Will it speak to you with gentle words? Will it make an agreement with you for you to take it as your slave for life? Can you make a pet of it like a bird or put it on a leash for the young women in your house? Will traders barter for it? Will they divide it up among the merchants? Can you fill its hide with harpoons or its head with fishing spears? If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering. No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; sling stones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is its equal— its a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”*

What an incredible description of an amazing creature. And yet we know that there are many more. Still, mankind in all of his “wisdom“ or scientific exploration have never seen them. In thousands of years of searching the planet, not all has been found. The world is God’s world and we are to be reminded of that fact.

We can search creation and the descriptions of creatures found throughout that creation and in so doing we find the minuteness of our beings. Yet, that search reveals an even more amazing fact about mankind. In all of its smallness in comparison to creation, there is only one of God’s creatures that was made in His image, is immortal, and was the object of a depth of love so deep, God allowed His only Son to die to save us.

For you, what part of God’s creation reminds you of your place in His world? Is it looking out across a vast ocean wondering at what lies beneath the surface? Is it staring into a vast night sky considering what lies beyond? Is it looking into the face off a newborn baby or into the eyes of an elderly person? Perhaps you’re just clinging to the fact that God is God, He is still there, and He is still in control.

Often times it is a natural disaster or dramatic weather events that remind us that we as human beings are not in control. It’s also likely whenever there’s a good outcome to a natural event there is no mention of God. If there is a horrific outcome there is a chorus from people wondering ‘How could a God of love allow this?’

May it ease our minds in times of distress, if we are fortunate to hear the sound of rolling waves in the ocean or in wilder times the crash of the waves wave against a stalwart rocky coastline or seawall, to know that God who created and controls without issue Leviathan and so much more, remains in control, and He loves you more than mere words can express.

*Job 41:2-34


PASSENGER’s LOG Stardate 22 February 22


By Rev. Dr. Ross L. Riggs

The Passenger’s Log Stardate 21 February 2022

I carefully began opening the wrapping paper, so intricately designed, and precisely folded. It was the highest grade designer paper. It must have cost more than most of other gifts strewn about the table. I could not begin to imagine the gift inside. Before I went any further with the opening of this incredible package, I felt drawn to the package not so well adorned. It wasn’t my birthday. In fact, you could say it was almost the opposite. People were gathering and giving me  presents, cards, stopping by our house with food for the ‘family’ just like they would do had I ‘passed’ and I’m not talking a mid-term exam! I was even getting  cards and comments by folks thanking me for what a blessing my life has been and how doing everything I do even as I am dying is so incredible. Okay, sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it? This isn’t really happening, at least not to the degree emphasized here. But, you have before you the conspicuous two-sided coin. These are things I’ve learned recently some are insights that have come through events and some in thanks to a very special person who has been asked to join the crew.


We should be telling people the positive things we enjoy about them. We should be doing random acts of kindness for folks just to say, ‘hey thanks for being you.‘ It does do some good for the family of one deceased to hear how much their loved one meant to others, it is cathartic. But it would have done the newly deceased some good to have heard it too, before he lay with coins upon his eyes for the boatman. 

But wait… could there be a third side to the coin? If you choose to make certain that someone knows how much they mean to you, tell them now… don’t wait! Perhaps there is someone for whom you’d like to do a random act of kindness. Do it. BUT, please do it before you learn that they have a terminal disease with no known cure. To be continually treated like you either have already died or that your death is such a far-gone  conclusion both will zap the fight out of just about anyone. If my death is eminent and the inability of medical science is such that  there is very little hope, then why prayers for healing or pleas for a miracle? Then why try? We can say we are praying for a miracle but do we really believe they happen? Does our attitude instill courage or inflict hurt on our brother or sister in Christ?

I recently met someone whom I haven’t met yet. If that sentence confuses you, then buckle up buttercup. An instiller of hope, a believer in miracles this person works in international trade and has lived most of their life on two continents.  This person, whom we have dubbed Guardian M, has a strong faith in God and I have invited M to come aboard the Starship Genesis Two Seven as a spiritual caregiver and as special counsel. Already doing these tasks in real life for  an uncle who no longer can subsist on his own, Guardian M stepped in to meet his needs. There are actual points where Guardian M exists in a person but there are also ways in which Guardian M is a composite of a church family who put together some books they knew the Passenger would have an interest in, or the pastor who reached out to make an open invitation to talk, flail wildly in the air with fists drawn tight, or howl at the moon when the mood is just right. Guardian M is also the long-time friend with whom all false fronts are down. But this one Guardian M, in the flesh, the one who is the inspiration for this piece, has grabbed on to the promises of God, His willingness to move mountains, to breathe life back into the lifeless and has said to me, you shall prevail and in the decades ahead will scoff at the idea that death was the only available door.

Guardian M aboard the Starship Genesis two-seven


This visit for which we have waited, labored over phone calls to insurance etc. for what seems like the last four months. It will come to fruition this Wednesday, Feb. 23 and the CAT scan was completed for the new doctor to see as  they provide the information back to Dr. N. The Passenger had a chance to review the CAT Scan report. Here are the basics:

If we skip all the big words, the distribution of all the indicators of IPF is seen most anteriorly and at the lung bases. It goes on to say, “Mild worsening of nonspecific fibrotic lung disease… Overall, this is mildly worsened from 09/04/2021. There are a few new small patchy ground-glass densities mostly in the upper lobes.” It is not getting better. We knew it wouldn’t minus God’s intervention. So, we have to pay close attention to Guardian M with the emphasis the divine.

On MARCH 17 The Passenger will be back with Dr. N for a recap of these reports and an idea of where we are headed next!

The Unique Human Soul

The Bible says that in the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  (John 1:1) It goes on to say that The Word, Jesus Christ created all things and without Him, nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3) A confusing way, perhaps, to say that Jesus Christ of the triune God-head, creating everything.

Amoeba Proteus splitting

Christ ordered creation so that an innumerable part of God’s creation reproduces after its own kind, whether they are mammals, reptiles, fowl, fish, insects, or others. Single cell organisms and even plants are able to reproduce in some fashion, from the pollen in flowers migrating by wind or insects to other flowers through pollination to reproduce after its kind to pinecones carrying seeds for new seedlings to sprout. Reproduction and birth, life and death are common to so much of the universe. Humans, however, are unique in the marvelous story of creation.

When a human child is born, from the time even upon its conception, that tiny collection of cells developing is different than anything else in the cosmos. Human beings are absolutely the only beings that carry as part of that individual, an eternal soul. From the moment of conception, that human baby has a soul. The part of those cells which makes them a person, truly is immortal. When God breathed life into the lifeless figure of Adam, He set the standard. The breath of life contains the soul which God has chosen to live forever, to be part of a relationship between God and His creation.

God spoke, as recorded by Moses in Genesis, to the pre-incarnate Christ and the Holy Spirit and said, Let us make man in our image (Genesis 1:26) and that simple statement set in motion the creation of immortal human beings, whose outer body will grow old and decay, but the person – the soul will live forever. King David knew that his child who died as a consequence of David’s sin would be with him in heaven. But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. (2 Samuel 2:23).

Before Genesis After Lucifer’s Fall

 Where  each person will live forever is a choice made somewhere within the divine decrees of God and each humans’ freedom of choice, but every person – every soul lives forever. Only those who know Christ as Savior, who come to the Father through Christ, will live forever in heaven. The rest are condemned to a life of eternal torment, pain beyond expression, and separation from the love of God. Hell is a place never meant for humans but designed for those angelic beings that revolted against God and were cast from heaven before time began. God has longed for  that relationship and has done everything to assure each of us a clear pathway to the cross.

The uniquesness of the human soul as eternal is awe inspiring alone. Still, the story, continues that not only are those who follow Christ to live immortal lives in heaven after their earthly body is destroyed by physical death, but those who follow Christ begin living their lives in heaven the moment they accept Christ’s gift of eternal life. Reread that last sentence and let it sink in. We’ll wait.

A grotto in Ephesus Turkey, Paul with Thecla ministering

Humans need not wait until their souls are freed of their ‘earthly coil’ a term coined by Shakespeare in Hamlet. Positionally, those who are saved by grace are already ‘in heaven.’ Paul writes, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ...” (Ephesians 1:2-3) The language used shows a completed work. Has blessed us shows that it is already finished. We already have every spiritual blessing that are found in the heavenly places.  Certainly we can say, ‘it doesn’t feel like I’m in heaven’. Of course, we are not physically there but positionally. What that means is that when you die in Christ you need not worry about am I going to heaven because you are already there. Allow me to use a simple example. Your parents are citizens of the United States living in Germany. While they are there, you are born. You are positionally an American citizen although you have never been to America. You, however, have all the rights, privileges, and all the blessings of being an American although you have never set foot in this country. Does that help? No one, legitimately, can take your American citizenship from you. If you leave Germany and come to the passport control for the United States of America, they will not look at you and say, you are not a citizen, you must go to the other line and they will consider your request and your credentials. No, they will say, “Welcome Home”.

Christ welcoming a saint

Once you have really and truly accepted Christ’s eternal gift of salvation, you are a citizen of heaven. When you arrive there, escorted by angels into the very presence of Christ, He will welcome with open arms and as He holds you, will whisper, ‘Welcome Home.’

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