Sunday, December 16, 2012


Red Door of Fellowship: site of the meeting of the saints.
(Click all photos to enlarge.)

When you say you’re going to Las Vegas, no one asks you why. Everyone knows why you’re going: to pamper the flesh. You’re going in order to be entertained, to overeat (and to overheat), to gamble, to drink, to see what Cher is wearing, to sow some wild oats and reap some wild oatmeal. If someone were to ask you why you are going to Vegas, the answer would not be, “I am going to Vegas for a Bible study.” Are you kidding me? Who the hell goes to Las Vegas for a Bible study?

Me. I do. I go to Las Vegas for a Bible study. I am two miles off the The Strip, and I don’t care. Neither does anyone else here. Right now, at this moment, it is the greatest thing in the world to be in Las Vegas talking about the evangel of Paul with people who are waiting to be snatched up together with Christ and be with Him forevermore. This ain’t no Mirage. Nothing could be more perfect.

The Bible study yesterday was one of the best. Starting at 9:30 a.m., people just kept coming in the door. By 10:15, we had sixteen people in the living room.

Joe knows bacon.

Joe and Melinda in love.
Ivy awaits company.
Rich Kavatch arrives. He is the guy with the radio show
who interviewed me twice last May for The First Idiot in Heaven

Ben drove up all the way from Orange County, California.

Christina and Megan

Sophia, Melinda, Eddie, and Tyler

Bryan is a Los Angeles Lakers fan.
Grace and Victor
The study was over by 9:30p.m. That’s right, a twelve-hour Scripture-fest, with occasional breaks for delicious food (thank you, Melinda and Sophia) and—in Joe’s case—a giant cigar enjoyed on the patio.

The main living room meeting went for three hours. No one wanted to leave. Yesterday reminded me again of how body of Christ members are so much like family. You meet these people for the first time, and you hug them like long-lost kin. The conversation starts right away; you are all of the same mind. The same mind directs you, the mind of Christ. You realize that every one of these people, including yourself, has walked down winding roads and heartbreaking times, to bring them here. They were brought here, all of them, by joys, trials, tears—and a sure yearning for truth. Everyone has a story, written in their eyes, faces, hugs, and the way they look at you when you share with them a new facet of the grace of God.

The patio.

Joe enjoys a smoke.
Rear view of Joe enjoying a smoke.

Ben, Zender, Randy, and Victor.

Rich digs the fellowship, backdropped by the Gulf of Mexico.
Everyone thinks he looks like Dustin Hoffman.

Ben and me.

Eddie and Martin Zender.

Zender schmoozes with Melinda and her grandson Logan.

Eddie schmoozes with Melinda; Melinda is schmoozable.

Hannah and Matthew look after their nephew Micah.

Hannah is cute in the kitchen.

Matthew supervises cookie operations.

Taya can't wait for everyone to leave.

Ben enjoys a coffee before driving back to L.A.

Speaking for myself, I love the moments of ultra-awareness, realizing I am at the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Of course, this is always the case in the great scheme of God, but one is not always ultra-aware of it. We must admit there are those moments in life when everything seems wrong, feels wrong, looks wrong. These are those times when the psyche needs a pep talk that God is in control, and is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

Yesterday was not one of those times.

I thank the Almighty God that there are other times, like yesterday, when He is so gracious and merciful that He sets you down into a sweet spot when everything gels and grooves, when you know why you have suffered upon your path—to bring you to this spot in place and in time. There are times over the past 19 years when I have despaired of this calling to teach. Yesterday, I could not imagine doing anything else.

Thank you, God, for fitting me to be a vessel of Your truth for Your people’s lives, to bless them and bring them closer to You. Thank you for the confirmation that I am on the right path, doing the right thing. Thank you for Your chosen ones. Thank you for this season of love, acceptance, smiles, hugs, tears of joy, warm encouraging words, and conviction of truth and purpose.

                                                                        *  *  *

Oh, boy, I slept in until 3:30 this morning. Went to bed at 10:30, making another day of five hours sleep. I have got to get to bed earlier tonight, but it’s hard to break away from the fellowship. My thinking is: I’m not here to sleep. However, I’ve got to stay healthy and keep the brain in gear. However, I can’t get enough of this. Good thing, because we’ve another full day of it today: the gang is coming back at 10 for another go. After that, there is a two-hour fellowship Monday night. Rumor has it (thank you, Adele), some of us are heading to The Strip on Tuesday. I want to make a video to deliver to you this weekend, but we will see what time and energy allows. The script ideas being bandied about the table last night were entertaining, to say the least. (Only a few of them were legally possible.)

Getting up a half-hour later didn’t change the routine this morning. I didn’t even try to go back to sleep, making it down here to my kitchen counter and computer, once again, at 4:15. I am guarding my water glass this time, which Taya (the name of the formerly-dehydrated cat, delivered as promised) is not too happy about. She cuddles me anyway; what a sweet kitty.

Yesterday, I spoke on the two gospels, giving a brief overview of Israel’s history and working my way up and through Paul. Today, I’ll be taking a broader look at the history of the universe, and the nature of God. Monday night, I want to delve into the specifics of Paul’s gospel.

The conversations at the kitchen table and out on the patio have run the gamut.

On Thursday, three of us fly to Sacramento. It turns out that two or three other people may be driving there as well. The show hits the road!

Donald Trump is really missing out on these spiritual times, the poor guy. So is Shania Twain. I saw Trump’s epic tower on the way in here, and Shania’s slinky, sassy self gracing football-sized billboards and placards atop taxi cabs. There is nothing wrong with being rich, famous, void of hairstyling, or having an amazing waist-hip ratio (I’m talking about Shania, Mr. Trump, not you; your waist-hip ratio is pathetic.) But there is everything right with forsaking that which is behind (this world and its treasures), and stretching ahead for the prize of the high calling above in Christ Jesus.

They have yet to invent a slot machine here that can deliver that.

© 2012 by Martin Zender