Month: March 2018

The Silhouette Man – A Soggy New England Story

The Silhouette Man – A Soggy New England Story

Annually our family would take a vacation from North Central Pennsylvania to Bangor Maine, where my mother had grown up. Our journey usually took place in the sweltering heat of August; just a few weeks before school started. Anticipation would build all summer long as we neared the day of departure.


The trip would take place in the old Chevy station wagon; loaded to the brim with camping supplies, snacks of all kinds, and luggage strapped precariously to the roof. Mom and dad, along with me and four sisters all packed in and ready to roll!


We would begin our yearly adventure by heading east, out across Pennsylvania; turning northward up through Schenectady, New York, and then veering eastward again, stopping in New Hampshire for the night.


Pulling into the campground, we would unpack the tent, dad making sure it was all up and secure. Once the tent was up, dad would get the fire going and mom would start getting the food ready; normally hot dogs and burgers, some beans and of course, marshmallows for dessert!


Up early, we would be off to Bangor, where we would spend a week with family; often taking a trip to Bar Harbor to see the ocean; it was a highlight of the trip. The sights and smells of the Atlantic Ocean would overload our senses.


I remember the deep throaty blast of the tugboat blowing, as it pushed big ships into the docks. The smell of the salty sea air and the crashing of waves against the craggy shoreline brought fanciful memories of stories I had read as a young child; Moby Dick, Robinson Caruso, and of course Pirate stories!


I was always fascinated by the ocean and found myself drawn to it. I recall gathering stones, seashells, even seaweed to take home, making the car smell awful; mom drew the line with my seaweed; it had to stay behind!


After a week visiting relatives, our journey home would begin. We would go home a different route, maximizing our ability to experience new sights and sounds; often visiting a lighthouse or two, as we traveled down the coast of Maine.


One particular trip home, we stayed at a small campground near the coast; Salty Acres Campgrounds, near a place called Goose Rocks Beach.


We arrived in the late afternoon, and by the time we got the tent set up, it was nearing 6:30 in the evening. I could hear the waves crashing nearby, and wanted desperately to go and see them before we went to bed. I was 14 years old at the time and felt sure I could get to the beach and back before dark.


Mom and dad reluctantly allowed me to walk around the campground to see if I could get a look at the beckoning ocean. They warned me not to be too late; I agreed, confident that I would find the beach, gather some shells and be right back; things did not go according to plan!


As I headed toward the sound of the crashing waves, I came to a forested area; undaunted, I began to look for a way through the forest; I was sure the ocean was very close. The sun was beginning to set, long shadows from the taller trees began to soften the lighting, and I knew I needed to hurry.


I saw a small trail heading into the woods; I was certain that this was the way in, so I began to hurry down the path. I took a small turn, about 50 feet into the woods and paused to look around.


As I looked to the right, something caught my eye; standing about 10 feet from me, was an old man. He reminded me of the dark silhouette man you might see standing by a tree as a decoration in someone’s yard, only this silhouette, was a real man.


He was a thin man of slight build with white hair flowing down from under the Scottish hat he wore on his head. He was smoking a curly pipe, the kind that the great detective Sherlock Holmes used to smoke. He was leaning against a tree. When I saw him, I nearly jumped out of my skin!


I stopped, my heart beating a mile a minute; he took the pipe out of his mouth and began to speak to me with a pronounced New England drawl, he said;


“Wouldn’t be going out there if I was you. Tide does be coming in soon, and fog with it; nope, I wouldn’t be going out there if I were you.”


He put the pipe back in his mouth and clicked the stem with his teeth.


I heard those words, but I was still tingling from the scare he gave me, and I said quickly; “Oh, I won’t be long” then I went quickly into the woods.


As I sped down the path, still shaking from the encounter with the old man, I quickly lost track of the twists and turns I had made. I did not notice the other trails crossing the one I was on either.


I stopped and listened for the sound of the waves and they seemed to be very close. However, the sun was now down low, and I knew it would be dark within a half hour, so I needed to get back, but I was lost!


I walked quickly in the direction I thought would take me out, but the woods got thicker and thicker. I went in another direction; more trees, and now, it was getting darker; I began to panic.


Finally, I saw what looked like field through the trees and I headed toward it. As I broke out of the trees, the field I saw was actually a salty marsh. It was about a quarter mile across; I could see a highway and a small store of some kind on the other side.


It was getting darker and becoming hard to see where I was going, but I decided my best bet, was to go across the marsh, so I started across. As I headed out into the marsh, I quickly realized that the whole swamp was full of channels of seawater. The channels were not very wide so I jumped over the first few.


After about 15 minutes, I was nearly halfway across. As I looked at the little channels, I realized the water was beginning to swirl and the channels started looking deeper and wider; then the words of the old man came rushing to my mind!


“Wouldn’t be going out there if I was you. Tide does be coming in soon, and fog with it; nope, I wouldn’t be going out there if I were you.”


The tide was coming in quickly, so I got a run for it and tried to leap across one of the channels, but it was too wide. I landed about 2 feet from the other side and went in over my head; the water was deeper than I thought and the bottom that I hit, felt like bottomless mud.


I panicked, I came up out of the channel like a wild-man, clawing and scraping to get out, then I just started running, jumping and splashing my way across the swampy marsh, until I reached the other side. I must have looked like a swamp creature coming out of there.


I recognized the little store and realized the campground was not far away and I started walking toward it. I saw a car coming down the road; it was my mom and dad, worried and looking for me.


They stopped and asked what happened, and I pointed to the marsh and told them of my harrowing ordeal. Dad just shook his head and told me to walk to the campground; I was too messy to get in the car.


When I got the campground, I took a long hot shower. I came over and sat by the fire; still shivering, not because I was cold, but because I was still somewhat traumatized by the whole ordeal.


Had I only listened to the wise old man at the edge of the woods, I would have avoided the whole thing!


I still love the ocean, and whenever I get a chance to spend time there, I cherish every moment. One thing I have never quite gotten over is a certain “feeling” I get whenever I see one of those silhouette men in somebody’s yard.


When I see one, especially in the waning hours of the day, I get a little flutter in my heart and I remember the old man at the edge of the woods.


As I remember this story of my youth, I can recall many times, words of wisdom came to me, and I refused them. The Bible give amazing direction regarding wisdom; one of my favorites from the Book of Proverbs ring loud and clear . . .


Proverbs 2:1-9

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,

2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;

3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,

4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;

8 He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.

9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.


Oh that I wish I would have heeded the words of the Silhouette Man on that summer evening on the coast of Maine. I would have avoided the traumatic experience altogether!


Heed the words of wisdom given to you; even those words of wisdom coming to you by surprising people you encounter on your journey of life. Ponder those words, consider their value and avoid discarding them.


If you choose to rebuff those words of wisdom given to you, do not be surprised if you find yourself looking like a swamp monster some evening, walking aimlessly though life, smelling like seaweed!


By all means, go see the ocean, explore the world, be daring and adventurous; but do so with all the wisdom you can gather; it will make the adventure so much more enjoyable and fruitful.


I hear the waves crashing, and a tugboat horn blasting; I think a new adventure is in store for me . . . Mr. Silhouette man, where are you?















Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Family, Humility, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments
Crying in a Bucket – A Lesson in Humility

Crying in a Bucket – A Lesson in Humility

The year was 2000 and our church had just undertaken an amazing act of faith; we purchased an old school building. Built in 1924, it served as the High School in our community for many years. Later, it became a middle school; in the year 2000, the school placed it for sale, and by God’s provision; we bought it!


We began to renovate the building, a little at a time, but the task was daunting. As we went about the work of renovating the building, we also went about the work of renovating the hearts of people as well.


We developed a food ministry, and outreach center, along with a variety of ministries aimed at helping g the poor and disenfranchised.


Over the course of the next few years, we met dozens of wonderful people; many of whom came to a saving knowledge of Jesus. The folks we encountered were interesting, to say the least!


One of the folks I was privileged to know, was a gentleman named Brad. He was a tall, lanky man, about 65 years old at the time. He would frequent our center, stopping in several times each week.


Brad was a pleasant man; witty with a wry sense of humor. He was a chain smoker, and chose to live outside, under a bridge during the summer months. He would stop in my office and chat endlessly about everything!


I had a large comfortable, cloth chair, in my office that Brad’s thin, gangly frame would disappear into as he chatted. The chair would retain the “essence” of Brad, long after he left. It was during this time that I learned of the blessing of Febreeze air freshener spray!


As time progressed, I found myself cutting short some of my visits with Brad; not wanting my office overly saturated with the scent of stale cigarettes and campfire smoke.


Sometimes I would see him sauntering down the hall toward my office and I would quickly meet him in the hall; feigning some work project, I needed to get to!


One day, the phone rang in my office and it was one of the wealthiest people in our community. He previously owned a large manufacturing center in our area and was a multi-millionaire! The conversation went something like this . . .


“Hi Rock, this is **** and I would love to come and talk to you about your building, I have some great ideas that may interest you and your church, can I stop down next Tuesday morning and see you?” I was stunned and said, “I would love to meet.”


Over the weekend, my head was spinning. One of the wealthiest men in our community was coming to see me; I wondered what he wanted. I wondered if he would want to help us renovate; with one stroke of the pen, he could cover the entire cost of the project, with room to spare!


Monday came, and I looked at my office and realized how dirty it was. I figured I had better give it a good cleaning, since I was going have a very important meeting the next morning; a meeting that could alter the direction of our church renovation project immensely!


I got a bucket of warm soapy water, a scrub brush and a couple of rags. I got on my knees to wipe the dust off the baseboard. As I was scrubbing, I got the sensation the Lord was nearby.


I continued to scrub and I felt the Lord ask me a simple question; “Rock, what are you doing?” With a little excitement, I began to share that a very important man was stopping by the next day; perhaps he would help finance our project!


There was a moment of silence; I was waiting for some indication that God was listening; perhaps He would help persuade this wealthy man. As I waited for His response, I felt Him ask another question; it was a simple one, and it changed my life.


He asked; “So Rock, how is it that you would clean your office for this very wealthy man, but you never even swept it for Brad?” I was undone, busted if you will! Still on my knees, scrub brush in my hand, tears began to splash in the bucket.


I stopped cleaning, emptied my bucket, and spent most of the day repenting of my foolishness, reminded of the passage of scripture in Matthew . . .


 Matthew 25:34-40

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


God helped me to see that my motives were askew; revealing that I was more interested in financial support, than I was for the soul of kind old man.


A couple of years later, Brad moved from our area; he stopped to see me before he left. He brought me two antique oil lamps; a gift thanking me for spending time with him. Those lamps meant more to me than anything the other man could have ever done.


Oh, by the way, I did meet with the wealthy man; we had a pleasant, albeit short meeting. He wanted to turn our center into a museum . . . go figure!


God is great; I love Him so much! The lessons He teaches last a lifetime!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Ministries, Trust, 0 comments
New Life

New Life

I enjoy spring, the explosion of greenery; I like wild leeks, rainy weather, and the smell of mud rushing down swollen streams.


I savor the sweet smell of smoke pouring out of the sugar shacks, as the Sugar-Mapler’s boil their sweet brew! I delight seeing the farmer plowing fields getting ready to plant.


I love the way the mountains try to hold their bounty of snow; little pockets of white, peaking out behind the rocks, as winter slowly loses its cold grip on the landscape.


The coming spring season always reminds me of new life. The icy cold grip of winter kept the landscape barren and fruitless; we wondered if it will ever end!


During those cold, frigid days of winter, something stirs deep in the ground. The unseen work of the hand of God is moving, stirring and preparing for an explosion of life!


The same is true regarding the cold heart of man, which remains fruitless, hopeless, and barren. We wonder if there will ever be any change.


You can rest assured that God is working in the dark, cold recesses of those barren hearts. Something is stirring; new life is getting ready to break forth in a profusion of love, mercy and grace!


If you have been praying for someone with a seemingly cold, lifeless heart, do not stop! Persistent prayer brings the warmth of God to that person.


It is your unfailing devotion to the Savior, and your constant, insistent prayer, which causes the ground of that heart to thaw.


In due time, new life with emerge and the fruit will be stunning!


“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”    ~ Ezekiel




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A Second Touch

A Second Touch

There is a sense today that the church; the people of God, are somewhat weary, tired and maybe even a little confused as to what to do in the face of ever increasing evil in this world. We are certainly living in what the Bible declares to be, “the last days.”


It is easy to drift off and lose sight of our anchor; when this happens, we need help, so today we ask God for that help.


Mark 8:22-25

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.


Before meeting Jesus, we were all very much like this blind man. Oh, we could see with our eyes all right, but spiritually speaking, we were quite blind! We may have known a thing or two about God; we may have known that Christ was God’s Son.


Most of us know about Christmas and Easter, for some of us, it was the only two days of the year, that we really stopped for a moment to consider Christianity; even going so far as to set foot in church on one of those two days!


For most of us, that was the extent of our knowledge of God! We were quite blind . . . and for good reason; the Bible declares that the god of this age (satan) had blinded our minds . . .


2 Corinthians 4:4

 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.


You see, satan did a wonderful job of keeping us in the dark; while we were without Christ and in unbelief, we could not see the truth, no matter how many times we heard it!


Then something miraculous began to take place. We began to feel something stirring inside; our heart touched in ways, we could not understand. The mention of God and the work of His Son Jesus began to spark an interest in us.


Maybe you heard a message on the radio or TV, perhaps at one of those annual church events you reluctantly attended.


You heard the dramatic message concerning your sin, and about Jesus mission to come to this earth and give His life as a ransom for yours; offering forgiveness for your life of sin. Drawn to Christ, you could not explain it. The Bible reveals an interesting truth about this . . .


John 6:44

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”


As God drew you in, you realized that you were a sinner, not in a generic sense, but you felt it and knew it, to the point where you wanted to hide from God, yet He kept pulling you near. The Bible declares to us . . .


Romans 3:23

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God


This glaring truth stared you in the heart, and you knew that without some intervention you would be eternally lost and that there would be a high price to be paid for the sin you were enveloped in!


You became aware that if you persisted in this sinful state, you would be forever lost, with no hope of redemption! Again, the Bible reveals more truth . . .


Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


It was at this crucial point that you decided to go “all in.”


You risked everything and trusted in Jesus! You went to Him burdened with guilt and perhaps shame for the way you lived your life. You fell at His feet, sorrowful for the way you lived your life, you told Him that you would repent and live for Him! You asked Jesus to come into your heart, into your life . . . and He did!


Romans 10:9-10

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.


This you did, openly and freely, unashamed of your allegiance with Jesus. The people around you knew; there was no mistake, you changed, and not just a little, old habits discarded and new ways began to unfold!


The joy you began to feel was awesome; the reality that your sins, which were many; completely forgiven! You had fellowship and friendship with Jesus. You developed an unquenchable hunger for the words of God. You dove into the Bible like a starving man who just sat down for a Thanksgiving dinner!


Your hunger and passion to know more about this Jesus would cause you to skip meals, just so you could read, pray and learn more about Him! Nothing was about to come between you and Him!


  • Do you still have that desire?
  • Do you still hunger and thirst for His Word?
  • Have you lost any of that first love?


Does your heart still burn with the fire it once had, or are you like the man in the opening Scripture who saw people, but they looked like trees walking around. Is your vision blurred? If so, then you, like that man, may need a second touch from Jesus!


I know firsthand how this happens. At an early age, I came to believe in Christ; through a Sunday school, teacher my heart opened to the things of God, and I believed.


As God began to reveal Himself to me, I started reading the Bible daily. The Bible is not an easy Book to read, especially for an 11-year-old boy, but I was determined to know more about God.


As the years passed by and I became a teenager, I began to drift away from those moments with the Bible.It was not a sudden falling away, but a gradual, gentle slipping away; I hardly noticed it happening.


Then one day a handful of us, young teenagers at the time, decided to camp out one night. As we were getting ready to go camp, we decided that we would swipe a 6-pack of beer from my friend’s dad . . . and we did!


I recall with clarity, sitting under the train bridge in near the village we lived in, and as the sun was going down, we all guzzled down that 6-pack; it was awful, but we pretended that it was good! When I grabbed that beer, something stirred inside, there was a powerful voice beckoning me not to do it.


I realized later that it was the Holy Spirit of God who was trying to prevent the problems that were about to arise in my life! The peer pressure was too great and I gave in, just like the rest! That evening, I grieved the Holy Spirit of God!


As He gently tried to woo me back in His direction, I resisted. I wanted to spend my time the way I wanted, and I did not want God interfering! I wanted to be with my friends, I wanted to experience what they experienced!


Over the next few years, alcohol was not enough, and I found new and interesting friends, who had other things I could try . . . and I did! By the time I was 18 years old, I was a wreck!


However, even then, God was trying to get through to me, but I continued to resist Him. Each time I resisted, my heart would be hardened just a little bit more!


The farther from God I drifted, the worse I began to feel. The devil began to whisper in my ear, things like; “see, you are bad and God will never forgive you” or “you will never be good enough for God, so why try.” The Bible declares that satan is a liar . . .


John 8:44

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”


Satan is a formidable foe, and he is always looking for ways to distract you from God. He will tempt you in a thousand different ways; his goal is to get your eyes off the things of God and onto the things of this world; if he can accomplish this, then he is well on the way to destroying your life.


There is great temporary pleasure in sin; the excitement and adrenaline it can produce are addictive. The spiritual side of sin is deadly. The feelings of guilt, shame and frustration can cripple you.


Sin is fun until you drink too much and while driving home, you hit a small child on a bike, taking a life. Sex is fun until you find out from the doctor that you have aids, or you find out you are pregnant and now you need to decide what your next steps are, taking a life, or allowing one to live! Drugs are fun until you see your friend lying dead from an overdose. 


As I continued through life, I began to believe the lie that God was done with me. I can still vividly remember sitting in a bar Jamestown New York one night. The bar tender was flipping through the channels; he stopped briefly on a station long enough, for me to see Billy Graham with that striking pose of his; arms crossed and one hand under his chin, and he declared; “what you need in your live is Jesus.”


I remember running out of that bar in tears; as much as I wanted Jesus, I thought I had sinned too much and had resisted Him too long!


  • Do you feel beyond forgiveness?
  • Do you feel like you will never live up to His expectations?


If you feel this way, then I have some good news for you! You see, after 18 years of running from God, He kept drawing me back to Himself. When I finally stopped long enough to turn around, He was standing right there, arms open; ready to forgive . . . and boy did I need forgiven!


Just like the blind man in the opening Scripture, I received a second touch from Jesus and I could see clearly.


  • How about you . . . is your vision blurred?
  • Are your spiritual eyes seeing clearly?
  • Do you need a second touch?


Perhaps, the hand of Jesus has never touched you, if so; this is your Day! Maybe you can relate to my story; you wandered off, never intending to go too far, but you lost your way and now you are hurt, confused by life, wondering where God is, and if He even really exists; He is here and would love to have a conversation with you!


If you want salvation, if you want restoration, if you want healing, whatever the case may be, please take a moment and talk to Him about it; it will be a turning point for you!


Satan wants you to miss the opportunity, he wants you to believe his lies, he wants you to wait until the next time, today is not right, he wants you to believe that God will not forgive you, remember, he is a liar!


Listen to the words of God Himself from the Book of Isaiah . . .


Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
Open Door

Open Door

It is often said that when one door closes, another opens. Be careful not to look so long and so ruefully at the closed door, that you do not see the new one that is opening for you.


Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”    ~Jesus

Posted by onthesolidrock in Faith, Trust, 0 comments