Richard Exley Ministries

Once Upon a Cross
Posted on March 29, 2007

With Easter less than two weeks away I am obsessing about the crucifixion. Involuntarily I cringe as scenes from Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” stream through my mind. Crucifixion was a hideous way to die, cruel and barbaric, often leaving the condemned to writhe in pain for two or three days before they finally succumbed to death. To hasten the end the legs of the victims were sometimes broken, an act of mercy more than cruelty, the pain not withstanding.

Like a slide projected on the screen of my mind I now I see an image of Mary. Her face is a suffering mask and I cannot even imagine what it must have been like for her. How does a mother watch her son being nailed to a cross? How does she bear it? Suddenly I have another thought. Mary wasn’t the only one who had a Son die that fateful day. Jesus was the Son of God as well as Mary’s son. What was it like for Him? What did Father God feel as He watched His Son die? 

Pondering those thoughts, I consider what questions I might ask Father God if I could have a one on one conversation with Him regarding the death of Jesus.  I think I would ask Him how He could allow Jesus to suffer and die when He had the power to save Him. I might even ask Him what kind of a father would do that

Category: Hope

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A Moment of Grace
Posted on March 22, 2007

The truth of Christianity is not that it immunes us from the vicissitudes and sufferings so common to this life, but that it empowers us to live with meaning in the midst of unspeakable loss.

Leaving the RCA Dome I turned toward the hotel, depression dogging my steps. I should have felt exhilarated, or at least deeply satisfied, but I didn’t. Being one of the speakers at the annual Bill Gaither Praise Gathering was a high honor; one I never expected to have, still, all I felt in the aftermath of my second session was an aching emptiness. The sessions had gone well enough, with lots of positive affirmation, but I couldn’t seem to wring any joy out of the experience.

For the better part of two years I had been living in a fog. Somehow I managed to minister with surprising effectiveness, but nothing I did touched the sadness that was slowing sucking life out of me. Day after day I forced myself to go through the motions, desperately hoping this would be the day some light returned to my gray existence, but it never happened. Instead the gloom seemed to deepen, causing me to doubt if I would ever again know the joy that once characterized my life.

Category: Dealing with Crisis

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With Pen in Hand
Posted on March 15, 2007

Like a silver ribbon disappearing into the darkness the highway stretches before me, deserted at this late hour. Beside me Brenda is asleep, her head resting against the widow on the passenger side of the car. Driving with one hand on the steering wheel, I fiddle with the radio dial, searching for a station. What I find is mostly static, not an uncommon occurrence in this remote region of Southeastern Colorado. Finally I locate a 50,000 watt clear channel out of New Orleans and I settle back to enjoy the music and the DJ’s late night patter.

The highway is straight and I push my 1968 Dodge RT past 90. It’s dumb, I know, but I am only twenty-two years old and I feel immortal. Brenda and I have been visiting family and we are returning to Holly, Colorado, where we serve a small congregation.  With Sunday less than forty-eight hours away I try to focus on my sermon but my mind keeps wandering. I catch myself humming along when the DJ spins a familiar tune – Glen Campbell singing “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” or Johnny Cash belting out “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Beneath the music I hear the whir of the tires on the blacktop and the rush of the wind past the windows. Unconsciously I tap my fingers on the steering wheel, keeping time with the music. The song ends and the DJ’s voice intrudes on my thoughts. After some nonsensical patter and a weather update he says, “Here’s a new release from Vikki Carr, recorded live at the Persian Room.” Almost as an afterthought he adds, “You might want to get a tissue. This one’s a real tearjerker.”

Category: Marriage

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The Painted Parable
Posted on March 08, 2007

Several years ago Brenda and I were browsing in a subterranean flea market when my attention was drawn to an unusual painting.  At first I couldn’t decide what it was that so captivated me.  The artist was good but not great.  His technique was just that – technique, nothing more.  Still I lingered, studying the painting...

Brenda had moved on, her attention drawn to something in another booth and now she was calling to me.  I turned to go and then I saw it, out of the corner of my eye. Although the picture was painted in great detail every face was blank – every face was featureless! Finished but faceless!  How had I missed that?

My mind was whirling. This was more than just a painting, it was a message.  The artist was trying to tell us something about himself, or maybe about us, and he did it the only way he knew how.  He painted a parable.

Category: Life

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Thoughts on Turning 60
Posted on March 01, 2007

A few days ago I celebrated my 60th birthday.  After reflecting on that momentous event for a few minutes I decided to share some of my thoughts. Unfortunately by the time I made it to my computer I couldn’t remember what I wanted share.  I’m just kidding but I do have to admit that, like a lot of other things, my memory isn’t what it once was.  Seriously here are some of my thoughts on turning sixty.

Wow!  I got here a lot faster than I would have ever imagined possible. (See James 4:14)

It seems only yesterday I was a twelve year old boy roaming the river bottom that surrounds the South Platte River in Northeastern Colorado, living my own version of Huck Finn. Then we moved to Houston, Texas and I had my first date – with Brenda Starr of course.  We went to my ninth grade football banquet where I received my Letter. At seventeen I bought my first car – a 1960 Ford Starliner.  Mom and Dad never paid a penny on it. I covered all expenses while making $1.25 an hour cutting donuts after school and on Saturdays.  On June 10, 1966 I married Brenda, Leah was born four years later and now I’m sixty and have two wonderful grandchildren.  Like I said I got here a lot faster than I would have ever imagined possible

Category: Life

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