Skip to content – Spiritual Experiences; When Frank Sinatra Shows Up With Meatballs.

January 20, 2014

Loving makes us bold. We get it from God; it’s part of His image in us. Forty years ago, my wife and I became engaged and things changed quickly. Without hesitation, I grabbed the money for the second semester of the college we attended and spent it on engagement and wedding rings. It made perfect sense to me. I wanted my parents to be as excited as we were. Well…they were excited…sort of. Right from the beginning, Paul went Niagara for Jesus – totally over the falls on a jet ski in love with the Lord. He didn’t get a lot of strokes for this, not much applause. Actually a bunch of men patrolled the city gates of Damascus to kill him so his new Christian friends let him down in a basket over the city wall. So it began and would continue. We picture Paul as this fiery bullet proof guy roaring around the Mediterranean planting churches and writing the Bible. It got to him. He repeatedly (II Cor 4:1, 12; 7:5,6) talked about the temptation to lose heart and even to despair at the end of his rope (I Cor. 1:8). Paul was not a junkie for drama, a whiner or quitter. Responding to some posers and phonies in the church, Paul pulled out his resume (“vitae” for you academic types)…”far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren: I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (II Cor 12:23-27)

Cathy Rich was the daughter of Buddy Rich, the great drummer. Her Dad rested up at home having suffered a heart attack. Hearing the doorbell, Cathy opened the door and there stood Frank Sinatra holding a pan of homemade meatballs in maranara sauce. (Sort of like Bono showing up at our next campus dinner with a bucket of wings? More than a little surreal!)

Could someone going through all this for Jesus use a little help? Jesus apparently thought so. Make no mistake, if Paul went Niagara for Jesus, Jesus went galactic in love with Paul…and with us. In II Cor 12:1-6, Paul speaks with great embarrassment (more later) of an experience of being caught up to the third heaven (spiritual lingo for one whopper of an encounter). It was the Lord’s way of saying, “Here’s something to help you remember that this is more than what you’re seeing right now.” In His love for us, God can just jump through into our lives at strategic times in powerful ways. A large portion of Christian spiritual experiences people have today describe the hot kindness of God pouring into our lives often in places and situations of great pain. His love makes Him bold. Sometimes Frank Sinatra shows up with meatballs. Just because we hurt. Just because we’re His, cherished and loved. When we worship these times, trying to capture and make a house out of them, we limit God and cripple ourselves along the lines that John MacArthur talks about. But when we don’t throw over walking by faith to get mired down in emotion, we can reach back over decades and find these times have a life all their own that breathes at the touch.

If we’ve never known an experience like this, it doesn’t mean at all that God doesn’t love us. In things like angelic or appearances of the Lord, God isn’t playing favorites or just trying to randomly freak people out (although this is sometimes the effect). He is exquisitely strategic to His own timing and bold in His love. And of course, the things said here, here and here all overlap and intertwine. As I said in the last post, it is not a tame hand that reaches through the veil of time and space. But even though He is not tame (to paraphrase The Wind In the Willows), the Lord is good, kind, tender and timely. He bends His most fiery love to our deepest pain whether there are visions, dreams or not. Whether our emotions boil over, collapse underneath us or are nowhere to be found at all. But sometimes He shows up with meatballs.

Next on…

Should we seek this kind of thing out because others may experience them? Do these things necessarily make us stronger or deeper?

If you think this might encourage students or someone who cares about them, then share, subscribe, tweet and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe to, you need to be part of Geezer 1. It’s a Facebook group of students, student ministry leaders, professors, musicians, artists, composers, cultural thinkers and campus rats who all think that Jesus Christ thinks that college and university campuses are cool places. Even if you already get, you’re missing a cool bunch of people who are body, mind and soul stretchers – and fun. You will only make us better. Just go to Geezer 1 and ask to join or shoot a friend request to

Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you leave. See you next post at

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