Monday, December 31, 2012

Talk About Guns With a Nice Liberal Lady

"I wouldn't have a Gun in My House," She Said.

Lots of people say that. It's okay. But this lady was so reasonable and so easy to talk to, I thought I would try. She had a toddler. I guess that's what you call a little child that age. "What would you do to protect your child ?" I asked.

"Anything!" was her reply.

"Would you own a gun?" Guess I had her there.

"But I'm afraid I'd kill someone."

Seems that peaceable people often speak of killing. A study on types of people found that there is hidden anger in anti-gun people. They associate guns with killing. They certainly can kill people, but so can your car.

It's such an emotional issue with some people. It's hard to talk to them. In fact, I believe emotion rules for them. They get red-faced just discussing the subject.

I have never met a gun nut. That's supposed to be what gun people are. I have met enthusiasts though, and people who find guns useful. To them a gun is just a tool. Ever try to drive a nail with anything besides a hammer?

I protested that "I didn't say a loaded gun, just a gun. Point an unloaded gun and who will bet it isn't loaded? If you do decide to have a loaded gun you don't have to fire it, just have it. Or if you fire it a few times, maybe into the floor, that should get some one's attention. Protect your child and yourself to. It's just an option."

...and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. Luke 22:36

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Manner of His Coming, The Fastest Draw in the East

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, the kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Luke 17:20

I heard the joke from a friend first. "Ya wanna see the fastest draw in the west?" I did. His hand was poised over an imaginary gun. It never moved. Then he said, "Ya wanna see it again?"

Scoffers like to cite the scripture of the coming of Jesus. Some people say that He returned spiritually at Pentecost, but that was the Holy Spirit.

Then there is the idea that the words "not with observation" means the Lord will return invisibly. That is very popular. But lightning is not invisible. Neither will be His return.

But it will be quick. That He said. If He had said His return would be soon, the scoffers would seize on that. Almost two thousand years is not soon.

But,like lightning, His return will be quick. The Scoffers won't know what hit 'em.

For as lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:27

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Who Do You Work For?

I have never been a member of a church, or attended one, where this question was not asked. Women may ask, "Where do you live?" But the men care about employment. They draw themselves up like roosters and hit me with the big one. It is the one they care about--your employer.

Maybe I could bear it better if they would follow with the big one for me, "What is your spiritual gift?" Never been asked that one. Every Christian has one, some think perhaps more than one. I am not a preacher, though I have done it. I am a Bible teacher.

I hope that people learn to love the Bible if they do not already. Some are afraid. It's too deep, they think. Leave it to the professionals.

Some think the Bible is just a bunch of superstitions or myths. Test it then. Find out.

There is a proverb that says, "The Bible is an anvil that has outworn many hammers." It won't break if you test it. Many people have. When they test it, and question it, starting with the most skeptical minds, the Bible is still there. People die, but the Word remains.

A therapist at my hospital had me read a page with numbers on it. I did pretty good. Put one in the wrong line though. "You enjoy reading don't you?" she asked me. Yes I do, especially the Bible.

Who do I work for?? Jesus. I hope I have pleased Him.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Lady With Orange Hair

When I was starting to read, I had trouble. Lack of confidence I suppose. At school someone was always quicker than me. I had the only teacher who ever ridiculed me. I was a shy kid and it cut me down.

But we had a little lady who taught Sunday School who was just the opposite. She gave off patient love. I was never wrong, just someone who needed help. I began to say words correctly. She played the piano and taught us to sing "Jesus Loves Me". When we sang "We are weak, but He is strong," it reached me.

My memories of her still are there, even though I was only six years old. She was quiet and loving to all the children and she helped me so much. She had red hair, which to my young eyes was orange. I had never seen a red head before. To me she was a red haired angel. All she needed was a halo.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Harrowing of Hell

The Old Scofield Bible has it--Jesus descending into hell, after his crucifiction and preaching to the souls there. As I remember--and I'm no expert on this doctrine--some of the souls stayed behind while he led the other souls to heaven.

The new Scofield Bible, which I love, says this is not true. As I grew older, I thought of where the harrowing idea probably came from. It was nothing less than the long-lasting legend of Orpheus, applied to Jesus! Orpheus descended into hell to rescue his beloved. I remembered seeing the movie, "Black Orpheus," a beautifully done modern form of the legend.

But can't we keep our legends out of the Bible? In the movie, Orpheus played his music to cause the sun to rise. In the Bible, Jesus made the sun.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We'll Always Remember

When I was in high school I was told by a shy, studious fellow, that there was gold in the school's foundation. I looked closely, and there it was. If you stood close enough you could see the flecks of gold--not "fool's gold" but the real thing.

I did not think about it until one day, I saw two children nearby, looking a little bored. "Did you ever see the gold in the school?" I asked. I stepped over to the foundation and they followed. It was a bright sunny day. The tiny flecks gleamed. The children were amazed and looked more closely. They found more.

I left them then, and walked away. In my youth, I preferred the company of kids to that of most adults in my family. At holiday time, I avoided the cigar-chomping men and their long suffering wives, and ate at the kids' table. It was trivial time for adults, time to demonstrate how little you knew. Time to see who could be the most foolish. The kids were much better company. They were like angels by comparison.

About a year after the gold incident, I was walking through my town, past mansions, and great homes. I saw a little cottage, recently built, with a white picket fence. It looked like a movie set. Two children were in the yard, a boy about nine and a girl a little younger. They saw me and began to shout. "We remember the gold," yelled the boy." The girl joined in. "We'll never forget."

They are old by now, but I remember them as the children they were then. I'll never forget either.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Highway of the Seed

How could I have missed it? This highway goes from Genesis to Revelation. One of my Bibles has this title in its notes. Eve was told of this highway. We doubt she understood it, few do today. But it's really simple. There are two kinds of people who are two seeds. The seed of the woman and the seed of the devil. Awful isn't it? But there it is: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; Genesis 3:15.

If we see enmity, could it be that God put it there? I don't mean the created wars between nations, but between people around you, even in your own family.

Imagine going from Genesis to Revelation. But let me do it, even though there is so much about it in between.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Rev. 12:17

What a war story the Bible is! It is also a great love story.

Monday, December 24, 2012

But He's Only Eight Days Old!

And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, ... Genesis 17:12

According to some people, I am going to hell. Some say "a devil's hell". That's probably the worst hell of all. It's because I was baptized as a little baby. I was not re-baptised as an adult, that's why I'm going to hell. So why don't I just get baptized again? It is not that I want to be with Luther and Calvin, who are being tortured in hell now. And please don't say Luther and Calvin didn't know what the Bible says about baptism.

Could it just be that my baptism "took" even though I was a baby? Could I have been set aside as one of His? I read that there are records in the catacombs of children only hours old who were baptized because they weren't going to live.

But, people say, a baby is not old enough to make such a decision. He or she must repent to be converted. True, a baby was too young to make his decision in the Old Testament also. Could it be that God can make the decision for them? That he even made a decision about them before the world was made?

My father said I was a planned child, one conceived deliberately. I'm in even deeper trouble now, but it wasn't my decision, it was his. I read about a lady known as Mercy, that was in the title of the book. She would tour the slums in China and find newborns that had been abandoned. She would immeadiatly baptize them, right where they were found. Some did not make it. They had been left alone too long, but they were baptized before they died.

Was Sister Mercy wrong? Was she the victim of an evil system, or did God receive these infants?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Christians Don't Believe That, Do We?

A missionary lady was looking at some drinking water under a microscope. It was filled with bacteria and other life. She let a young boy look. He was amazed at the little wriggling creatures. She explained that the water was impure. It was filled with microscopic life. "These little bugs in our water can make people sick," she said. "But we Christians don't believe that do we?" he replied.

There are doctrines in the Bible that people do not believe, and don't think we should even talk about. Trouble is, I believe in one that is there. Arguments against it are pretty convincing, but still wrong. I run into it a lot in the Bible, so I believe it. I will print some quotes.

Having predestinated us unto to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Ephesians 1:5

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the council of his own will: Ephesians 1:11

Some believe we are predestinated. I sure do. "But He foresees that we will make the right choice in the future," some will say. Good old Free Will to the rescue! But it is his will, not ours, which is being enacted. It is his will, not our will.

Here is John's explanation. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13

Do we Christians believe this? I do.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Leaf Igloo

When I was a boy I made one. I got an appliance box and covered it with leaves. I made an entrance from a wire trash burner that had lost it's bottom. I piled leaves on both of them, only leaving a little round door. When I was inside I covered this opening with a basket lid. I made a hole in the box and the leaf pile, so I could just see out.

People would walk in our alley way, right past me and not know the leaf pile was hollow. I could see them and hear them too. The leaf igloo didn't last long. It was time to burn the leaves, and my box too. Neatness must be obeyed.

I was in line at a video store. When it was my turn to be waited on the clerk didn't pay me any attention. She waited on the man behind me. I am invisible.

But God sees me and I am content with that. Actually I revel in it. God sees us and cares.

We have all heard this, but is it not wonderful?

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matt. 10:29

Friday, December 21, 2012

Confessions of an Airport Bum

I used to hang around airports--little ones. My first airplane ride was in an open biplane. It had been painted red. I remember a pilot new to the plane took it up one day. He rolled it. An object fell from the plane. The guy next to me said, "Look, he dropped his cigarettes. I'll catch 'em." He took off his ball cap and held it out. I saw his eyes widen as the object got bigger. It was the unfastened seat of the plane, about the size of a car seat. It hit the earth with a boom, sending up a ring of dust.

They were parachuting one day. Before the men jumped the pilot would drop sticks to gauge the wind. They were pieces of broom handles with cloth attached. But this time the pilot misjudged the wind. His man jumped and drifted off course. We got into an old hearse to retrieve him. There he was in somebody's back yard, trying to unhook his parachute from a children's swing set with a clothesline prop. A woman had her back door open staring at him.

"Wanna make a jump?" I was asked. I confess that I was afraid of heights. Anything higher than a step ladder frightened me. But I said yes. I was scheduled for next Saturday, at a different airport. The locals here had had enough. I was taken to see my chute packed. The packer had very long masonite tables in his basement. He dumped a tangled chute onto a table and patiently picked debris off it--grass and leaves. He stuck out his lower lip and blew. One of the parachute panels ballooned up and then settled into place. "Saves me a walk down the table," he explained.

On his walls were pictures of him jumping. One of them was a triangular chute. "You have to jump a chute you packed to be certified. "

We drove to a nearby air field with my newly packed chute. They were ready to take me up. A door had been removed to let me out. At fifteen hundred feet I stood on a little metal boarding step. I looked at the pilot and he nodded. I had my hand on the ripcord handle as I let go. I closed my eyes as I counted out loud, "One, two," and pulled the cord. When I felt the chute open I remember saying, "Lord, you've been good to me."

Below, I saw my friends get into a convertible to pick me up. I landed in a corn field. The chute lay atop the stalks. My foot had stepped on one plant and bent it. But I was ok.

It's amazing what a little faith can let you do.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Library Cat

I was looking through the recordings of a vast library. I overheard two little boys frantically pulling out recordings from a shelf of records. They kept saying "Daboosy, Daboosy" as they looked. I thought I would see if I could help and asked them what they were looking for. They wanted to hear the music background of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," starring Mickey Mouse from the Disney movie "Fantasia." I told them it was by Dukas and found it for them.

They asked for ear phones at the desk and were turned down. I saw their disappointment. I asked for three sets of phones and we listened to the music together. It took me back to when I saw "Fantasia." I was about six years old. My sister took me. I had been put into another world as I watched. I was so spaced out I hardly knew where I was on the bus ride back home.

Now it came back to me as we listened. The boys had heard what they came for and said they had to go. Outside I saw them emerge from the big door. "How did he know what we wanted?" asked the younger boy. They thought I worked for the library. "He a library cat," the older one explained. "He know all that stuff, he one of them library cats."

My love went out to them. What an upbringing they must have! I was amazed that of all the music they could have looked for, it was Paul Dukas. For one happy moment, I was their library cat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hell, or the City Dump?

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:30

Good thing the translators knew more than Jesus did when they corrected him. Jesus used the word gehenna, but they used the word hell.

Some people love the word hell. They love the doctrine too. Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the poet, said, "Of course there is a hell. Where else would my neighbors go?"

And it is often said that hell, a place of fire deep in the earth, is needed to control people. I mean, what could frighten people more than eternal agony? So what if it came from the Greeks and not the Bible? It serves a great purpose, scaring people into being good.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Eternal death scares me, and it's in the Bible.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some Kids Who Were Accountable

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up from the way, there came forth little children, out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them , and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
2 Kings 2:23 and 24

I imagine a lot of people will say, "but these children were twelve or older." The Bible says "little children" and they were held accountable. As far as I can tell, the age of accountability idea is nowhere in the Bible, but has taken hold of peoples' minds. We won't even talk about the children who died in the flood.

Maybe there is something evil about anyone who mocked Elisha?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Good Talk With Two Watchtower Men

My wife had just died. I was still in a daze of grief. Someone knocked. It was two men from the Watchtower Society. Jehovah's Witnesses people called them. They had some literature. They always do.

I had a desire to talk, so we conversed. When I explained that my wife had just died, the older of the two said he understood. His wife had died, too. "You can find someone else," he said. "I did."

I hastened to tell them I did not believe in their religion, and had studied it extensively, sometimes with their oldest literature. The younger man asked if I was really sure. We made eye contact. I had the strong feeling he really wanted to know the truth.

"I have really studied it, and it is fatally flawed," I told him. "Really look at it."

I did not feel I was talking to two people who were brainwashed. "I can feel your sincerity," I told them. "You are sincere but wrong."

"Have you really looked at it?" the younger man asked. I had, and told him so. They left after wishing me well.

I kept thinking of the younger man. I believe he really wanted to know the truth.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I'll Tell You a Secret

Here goes--I'm tired of being improved. Please leave me alone for a while. You see I've been climbing this long hill called life. I need a rest. It would be so wonderful to listen to what God is going to do, without me. I would like to be just a spectator for a time.

I know that if we all get out the vote "We can turn this country around". Also, I've been told my church can reform America. If we pray enough and give enough money things will be wonderful. But I told you my secret. I am tired of hearing it. Maybe that is why I find refuge from it all in the Bible.

"But isn't the Bible the great book of how to improve yourself?" some will say.

Oh, it's in there, but huge sections of His book are about what God will do without our help, and what he has done already. Even someone sitting and watching can learn it, and revel in it. It is, after all, His action, not ours or mine which will bring it all about. Guess you could say I am weary of man-centered theology, of gold lame' jackets for ushers (we need them) or even bigger, paved parking lots.

Now you know my secret. I wasn't there when God created the world and all the living creatures. He did it without me, or any of us. I know I need to shape up. But just let me rest awhile and think about the wonderful works of God. He made the world, and He will clean it up.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see, the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. Exodus 14:13

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Dread the Night

How many distractions are needed? How many tv s and radios are on to create a background sound that lets us live? And what if there were no distractions, no other thoughts than the ones solitude and silence bring?

Doctor Johnson and friends once discussed whether life has more pleasure, or more pain. Someone asked who would want to live their lives over if they could change nothing. No one there answered yes. Maybe with the passage of time, bid hunks of it, we reach a "critical mass" of sorrow? For some of us it is too much to bear. Any kind of work helps drive out the demons of sorrow. "Keep busy" is the admonition, perhaps gained from long experience.

But as water builds behind a dam, many losses increase and just will not go away. It can come to a point where it cannot be denied or put away. Words of encouragement are often platitudes to those who suffer. Even the truth of the scriptures will not take all sorrow away. The promises in them are to be relied upon as a future deliverance, but the present must be borne.

I am mindful of a mother and father who lost an eighteen year old daughter. They will experience their first Christmas without her, a season she loved. No words are sufficient for them. Only our prayers are our greatest gift to help such to survive.

To each our test, before our tears are gone forever. Until that day we may spend many lonely nights of contemplation. Christianity is no fun, I hear. Neither is the world.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Animals Don't Know

Pity them, the animals, the pets we come to love. They have no sense of the future. They share this with many people I am afraid. But people have the Word, and life's experiences not available to the animals. For them then, there is the now. They do not understand as they get old or sick, that this is a part of life. And they do not realize the curse that came upon the whole earth long ago.

In a way it is a blessing. Who else can enjoy the present as they do? A cat can make a bundle of fun out of a grocery bag, or better yet, a nice empty box. A dog can gnaw patiently on a bone, then sleep on a sunny porch. To them life can be so good.

Who remembers the paintings of the Quaker Edward Hicks? His repeated theme of animals living peacefully with one another are a joy to contemplate. People, often little children, and animals were in over one hundred paintings drawn from Isaiah chapter eleven. They were in the Peaceable Kingdom he envisioned.

And they will be some day. The Bible promises that. But a terrible time will come upon the whole world first. Maybe that is why some of us avoid parts of the Bible? But let us all thrill to the greatest "animal passage" of them all:

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Revelation 5:13

When Jesus is shown to us in this great book, it is as the Lamb.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unholy Relics

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5

There seems to be a belief abroad called "the age of accountability". This is it. Up to age twelve, your sin nature does not count, you are innocent.

Billy Graham gave a speech at the Murrah site in Oklahoma, to memorialize those who had died there. In his words all the children in the child care center will go to heaven--in fact already have--because they were under the age of twelve. People applauded.

I contrast this with a scene I witnessed at a lake where baptisms were being conducted. A number of adults were baptized until there was only one person left. He was an eight year old boy. The pastor explained that he did not usually baptize children at that young an age. But this boy had an understanding of his sin and wished to be baptized. He was.

I was so touched by the boy's understanding. Is original sin a truth, even if we do not like the doctrine? If it is, where did we inherit the belief of a twelve year age of accountability?

From Jesus as a child at the temple I am told. I do not see the connection. The Bible says nothing about such a thing. Guess I have turned a lot of people off, as the saying goes, but what is our guide in this matter? Shall we follow a man, even a very good man, or the word of God?

I believe Jesus died on the cross for children too, even those under the age of twelve.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What You Think

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Proverbs 23:7

After all these years people still argue over beliefs, of Luther and Tyndale, for examples. Do we ever settle our interpretations? Is there no resolution? I'll have to say no. Evidence, in this case scripture, is not the deciding factor. Each person has a belief that they bring to an argument. When they read a particular Bible verse they seem to interpret it according to their belief.

I knew a young woman who was very troubled over this verse: for it is better to marry than to burn. (1 Timothy 7:9) Her reaction was that those who do not marry, who indulge in passion outside marriage, are going to hell. A very traditional view among many. In her case she felt she was being threatened with hell for her behavior.

She had a choice, she felt--repent of her behavior or go to hell. After all that is a reasonable assumption from the verse, what could be plainer? And a lot of religions will back it up. They love to threaten you with hell. So she rejected the Bible. That was her choice. How could the God of the Bible be so severe? Did He not understand human behavior?

A closer look at the statement is very revealing. Paul knew both human nature and the will of God. Here is what he says in this verse. If you can't contain your passion, it is better to get married than to burn with passion. Simple as that. How can you do the will of God if you are distracted and hot, with passion? Hell is not mentioned. Paul never mentions hell, we are conditioned to think of burning with the idea of hell.

Religion can really damage people's lives and warp their understanding of the Word of God.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Experience With Wheat

My wife and I were visiting the Chicago Museum of Natural History. Very few people were there yet. Some sections we had to ourselves. She found items of her interest, but I sought other things. We agreed to part for awhile. I wandered into a section on grains.

What drew me I will never know, but I stood before a glass case which displayed a map with a spray of wheat on it. It illustrated early discoveries--how many people of the world use wheat, and its varieties.

Nothing remarkable in this, I suppose. But what happened to me was remarkable. I had never had such a feeling before, nor have I in the many years since. I forgot myself. I thought of how many peoples' history lay before me. I thought, or felt, a tide of history. I suppose it was a return to basics that I experienced. It was not really thinking, but feeling.

How easy and natural to be drawn in by the world, to forget about what really matters. I wonder who made the display that pulled me in so powerfully? Was it just a part of their job, a matter of routine, and then on to other things? It changed me for life. I got the message--stay in touch the basics of life. If a child had made such a display for school, they deserved an A+.

Monday, December 10, 2012

More and More Alone

Being alone can bring with it melancholy. Often this is regarded as an ailment. Sometimes it is. Especially when it never lifts. But what if it just involves catching on? I mean, people learn, through long experience, how life really is.

"Become active, get involved," people often tell you, as if more of the same is the cure. There is just the possibility that old people have the most realistic attitudes of all. They don't have a malady. Life has just taught them something.

Has anyone ever said, " I miss my illusions?" Don't think so, but illusions keep many "happy"--in a state of mind cushioned by lies. As I write this, it sounds so cynical.

I looked up the Cynics, starting with Diogenes and his barrel. Now I know I am one. They believed in the virtue of good works--of fighting with good. Hope I have done some.

A very happy world for me would be to have the dead--animals and people--restored to life. That would be the end of melancholy. I look forward to resurrection, to me the most precious promise in the Bible.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Things You Are Not Allowed to Question

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Ecclesiastes 3:21

What a skeptical question! But I am informed by experts that this is being asked by "man under the sun," fleshly man, who has not been enlightened. Man under the sun is as wrong as he can be. Since it is the only passage in the Bible dealing with the mortality of man, and it is wrong, then anyone who questions this doctrine is also wrong. That is what the experts say.

But poor man under the sun sometimes gets it right. The experts are the only ones who know when man under the sun is wrong and when he is right. There are plenty of times when man under the sun is right. Good thing I have the experts tell me which is which. They have a big cream separator that splits truth from falsehood.

Just imagine animals and man sharing a common fate! I think of my beloved pets breathing their last breaths. I hate to think of it because I loved them so much. Then I think of myself becoming dust. Makes you think of Genesis. I mean the creation account, and the curse which followed Adam's disobedience.

A lady I know has had the misfortune of asking questions of churches. She told me she has been told, "You ask too many questions!" Sometimes one is too many. It seems like a golden opportunity for someone. People who ask are jewels--like children who always say "Why?". Now we can talk. Imagine someone who knew the Bible well enough so they could answer them. With the right answers, people come back stronger than ever.

"Because I said so" just doesn't make it for so many of us.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

You're a What?

I am a supralapsarian Calvinist. Yep, that's me. Some people hate them. Their message is, that God knew, before the world was made, you would be born and sin. But he planned to save you.

It is so distasteful to many.

I had a good Baptist lower his face to mine and say, "Franz, I'm not even sure you're born again!" It hurts sometimes to hear the Bible. I mean it hurt the flesh. I had been there, I understood. It helps a lot to read Ephesians. It straightened me out, and I was bent pretty bad.

I happened to admire this Baptist. I decided to wait, not "preach."

A preacher explained it this way. The cross is not an ambulance arriving at the scene of an accident.

God is never surprised.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Simple Gospel

Beware of the complicators. It may be there is money in complicating things--a living even. There is fame, too. Then there is the work of the Devil, confusing people.

A centipede was happy quite, until a frog in fun,
Said "Pray, which leg comes after which?"
This raised her mind to such a pitch, she lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how to run.

In the matter of salvation, where we begin our walk, it is very simple.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12

The Gospel of John is so simple, yet so profound. Many missionaries begin with it, when introducing the Gospel message. If you don't have time, or are just plain worn out, read the first ten chapters. You will be well informed.

Beyond salvation, you may read 1st Corinthians 15:3 and 4. It is called the Gospel in a nutshell.

Wasn't that simple?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Going to Heaven

We all are singing "Nearer My God to Thee: but we keep on takin' vitamin B.
Nipsy Russell

If there was a contest for who wants to go to heaven the most, I figure I'd be at least in the top ten, maybe win the prize. It has been my experience that life gets "used up". Not bad, but you want more. You want the sorrow removed, forever. Sorrows build up like logs at a dam. They need to be taken away.

When I was a child, about eight, my little cousin died. I was told she was in heaven. So I wanted to go there too. Death was a small price to pay. I became heavenly minded. I wondered if angel food cake was really eaten by angels? Sounds spacey I know, but it is how I thought.

Now, I feel the same way. I have heard more about heaven. There is not a lot written about it. But maybe we should learn it? What if a child was taught about what we do know? Before they are told, "Be sure to be home at suppertime," they should learn where their real home is?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Let Me See Your Eyes

An old man was asked if he had seen a change in people during his life time. He explained that he had.

"People used to smell different," he said. "Not bad, just different." He went on. Some people had the aroma of coffee, some tobacco, some even like oak, and others, like moth balls. Houses too, each had its own smell. "Now everything is the same,", he lamented.

Maybe this could be explained by his declining sense of smell, but I think he is on to something. Not just odors, but personalities seem to be declining. Could we have become standardized?

I saw a family seated at a restaurant table all using electronic devices. They were all in contact with others, but not one another. Can a thousand "likes" by strangers ever replace one good friendship?

Have people lost the zip we once had? I took a really old magazine to work. It had Harpo Marx on the cover. His chest and legs were decorated with medals. He was imitating a dictator as he saluted. A young man looked at the date on the cover. "I wish I had lived then," he said.

It's probably me, but I see a lot of dead eyes. In many ways our culture has become a bad remake of an old movie. It was better the first time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Truth is Like Raising Tulips

Much of Holland is below sea level. Yet they raise such beautiful tulips and jet them around the world. Giant diesel powered pumps keep the sea away.

We try to maintain simple Bible truths, yet error keeps pressing in, like the sea. I heard a commedian say, "Opportunity only knocks once, but failure keeps pounding, pounding, pounding..." Kind of like that with truth. You are never done.

Is it just human nature or the Devil? It has been said that whenever a church is built, the Devil opens a chapel in it. A young lady that I correspond with says there is error in her church, and she does not get the answers she needs. She is studying on her own. Sometimes with her oldest child.

The world is not neutral. If you are studying the Bible, have your pumps ready.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Your Reward is Coming to You

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Rev 22:12

What a wonderful promise. A little hard on people who say, "He's gone to his reward." But keep saying it and soon the words of Jesus will be forgotten.

Have I got a reward? I am not assuming. I do know that Lord Jesus is working on my mansion. I can only dream of what that will be. A friend said she is looking forward to her mansion. "Just think, we can show each other our rooms, and we won't have to leave the doors open."

Maybe we should think more often about our rewards? It can really lift your spirits.

So many are striving to be saved by being "good enough", like old infants working on being born.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Death by Peanut Butter

As Judy Tenuta used to say, "It could happen." It almost did. It's awful how I gobble my food. I made a peanut butter sandwich, just one slice of bread folded over, no big deal. About half way through it, I felt it wasn't going down. Then I couldn't breathe, at all. I quickly went to the kitchen and poured a glass of water. I sat on the floor and drank a little. I knew this was it.

The idea that we have about four minutes of oxygen stored in our blood may be true. That is about how long until you die. But before you die you pass out very quickly when air is cut off, and I was close to passing out.

I thought "This is how they'll find me". Even in my old age I wanted to do The Big One. To do something memorable, as if to justify my existence. In a flash I realized my life had been my big one, not big at all, but it was all I had. A bunch of little things, done by a little person.

The water worked, my air was back. Stroke victims often have trouble swallowing. I had been marginal, no thickener for my coffee. But I was told to eat and drink slowly, and I did. I was x-ray certified that I could swallow ok. I drank some barium, as in "bury 'em". But now I had been careless and almost died.

God gave me more time to live.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Jerusalem Hunger

He was near death. Wasting disease his friends called it. Nutrition didn't help, nothing did. He had declined slowly, with rare moments of seeming health. But something was very wrong, mentally and physically.

Doctors were puzzled by his case, and searched their databases for causes without any answers. He had been put in a room near the nurses desk, then transferred to the intensive care unit.

His blood work was within normal limits--pretty good, actually. There was something going on that no one seemed to understand.

A nurse spoke about it. She was from the islands. She knew. Christians from her home had a legend. Certain people, otherwise healthy, would just waste away. Food didn't help, nothing did. They had a name for it. It was called the New Jerusalem Hunger. The only remedy was death or the rapture.

An attendant who had been to his room earlier had seen his Bible open on his bed. He had been reading Revelation, she said. "It's like that old song, he's got it bad, and that ain't good."

And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Rev. 21:2

Friday, November 30, 2012

How Good a Hater Are You?

Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: Psalm 139: 21,22

How would you rate yourself as a hater? Please check one:

1) Never hate at all
2) Hate sometimes, a little bit
3) Can really hate at times
4) World class hater (these have become very rare)

the very word hate has been banned. People hate it. I am not so good, so I can hate. I am not in the class of David, but I am old fashioned enough to be able to do it.

don't hear a lot about Jesus cleansing the temple, but I have a dear friend who sat up when she first heard about it. She was just a little girl. "Now here is a Jesus I can understand!" she thought. She loves and serves him every day.

Believe hatred is being bred out of believers. They have been gelded. I was in a church class not long ago and read "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." (Romans 9:13).

People recoiled as if I had thrown a snake in their midst. "What kind of Bible is that?" a man asked. I was reading from my King James. I have checked this passage in many translations and looked up the root word for "hate". All agree. The people of the class did not.

I had returned to my old denomination to see if they had changed. Apparently not. C. S. Lewis, whom I really like, said, in effect, God who is love can obviously not hate anyone.

But Robert Haldane, a hundred years previously, anticipated this argument. He wrote the finest book on Romans that I have ever seen. To Robert, it is not what you think, but what God has said that mattered.

Show me how you hate and I will know how much you love.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's My Home

He wanted to read the Bible through once for every year of his life. He was on his way. "Even the begats are familiar after awhile," he said. The people in them are like family members, not all good, but then Cain and Abel were brothers.

His example makes you wonder why the Bible is such alien territory for so many. "That's what we pay our preacher for," many say.

"But how do you know if your preacher is right?" I ask. You can't fire a man without knowing when he is wrong. Knowledge keeps them honest.

"I tried it because our priest said to, but it was so dry," a man told me.

Surely the story of David's life is not dry. After awhile you can become so familiar with the wonderful places in the Word, it will become your home too.

When you are at home in the Bible, the world seems strange by comparison.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Brother Gadd

For God so Loved the World (except Esau)...

Pastor Joe Gadd said he was probably the only Baptist minister who had to look up John 3:16 to get it right. He felt it was over used and in the wrong way. I knew him well. He taught me what an Independent Baptist was. I have known several preachers personally. I am not overawed by them.

Brother Gadd started young. He was ordained at 19. He began to put up his Christmas tree when several elders came to visit. They asked what he was doing. He told them he was just putting up his tree. "Oh, no, no, no," they explained. "That is not to be done in our church." It was his last tree.

Joe was trying to witness to a young man. None of the scriptures "took". The young man was a total unbeliever. "I know the problem," said Joe. "I'm trying to preach to a lamb, but you are a goat." The man took hold of the table between them and turned it over. "I saw him approaching me one day. He crossed the street to avoid me. But he never denied being a goat."

Joe was controversial. "Preach 'em in, preach 'em out, was his motto. He gave sermons on the birth of Jesus. "In July or August, usually," he told me. He avoided Christmas that way.

His doctrines of election and predestination were strictly from the Bible. Maybe that is why his church was so small. Visiting the church of a friend, he saw about forty folding chairs. "You're not going liberal on me, are you?" They both laughed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Baby Dressed in Black

My sister worked for a time selling baby clothes. She enjoyed finding the little outfits that people liked. She found pink clothes for girls, blue for boys. "It used to be just the opposite," she said. "Pink was considered more lively and blue more modest and subdued."

She followed the general rule one day for a couple from Pakistan, but they found nothing they liked. One of the parents found some baby clothes in yellow and red. "This has the color of life," they explained. They wanted the liveliest colors there were, to give their baby a good start.

I was waiting for a friend to arrive at the bus station when I was amazed to see an infant, held by her mother. The baby had on an all black outfit, including a coal black bonnet. I must have stared. My attention was diverted by the father. He was giving me the hardest look I have ever seen.

I hope the child grows up to renounce the world. She will never see a movie or sin in any other way. With real effort she may even go to heaven some day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

He Used to be Amish

There was an attendant at the recovery place where I stayed. He was young, fresh faced and genuinely concerned about people. He moved about quickly, stopping at tables to greet people by name.

He couldn't do enough for his folks. "Get you some water?" And he did.

I mentioned that I had slept through lunch one day. I was happy to, I needed the sleep. But he was so concerned about it. "I'll never let that happen again," he told me. "I'll look for you."

He had wheeled me back to my room. Before he left he looked at me closely. "I used to be Amish," he said, reading my face. He saw neither approval or astonishment. He continued. He seemed to need to confide.

"My father cried over me three days. He thought I was going to hell. You can imagine how I felt about that. I thought I would go to hell too. So I lived it up for five years. Might as well."

He told me about the issues that came from separating from his dad. But he had made a clean break.

Apparently he had grown tired of attempting to win his way to heaven by good conduct. "My righteousness is as filthy rags," he told me. He had found out about grace.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Heavy Stuff

One thing is certain and the rest is lies
The flower that once has bloomed
Forever dies.

A nice thing about being near death is that it really sorts things out. Helps you realize what is not important, get it out of the way. The basic questions take over and the things you used to like start to fade away. Old age helps too.

I went to Uncle John's home for a little reception. His son opened the door. "Can I take your coat?" he asked. He got me a chair and asked if I would like something to drink.

"Your son sure is thoughtful," I told John. He sighed, "But Buddy, it took a lot of beatin' to get him that way."

That pretty well describes it for a lot of us. A lot of beatin'.

I had Santa Clause beaten out of me--the whole Christmas thing, actually. In theology, a lot of stuff was beaten out--a lot of pride and illusions. I started to really believe the Bible. Not just what people said about it, but the book itself.

I had a terrible thought. If you can't find it in the Bible, maybe it was just made up? How much of my belief about things is tradition and human nature, not the Word?

I'm not kidding, this hurts. You can lose friends, maybe even family members, with such an attitude. Gets lonely out there.

Are there compensations? There sure are. Aquinas said, "When you love one thing less, you love another more." Instead of loving people at Christmas time I loved them year round. Instead of the beauty of a decorated tree, I saw the beauty of a tree never to be brought into a house. The 25th of December faded as I thought of how precious every moment of time is, every date.

But the really heavy stuff arises. Eternity becomes so important. You have seen so many die, some quite young, that you want to live where people do not die, ever. Everything in its time, I guess. Now is the time to look at all of life and say, What really matters?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Byzantine Christ

How many people remember President Johnson? His daughter's wedding ? I am not so interested in her wedding dress as in the church where she was married.

Above the altar was a portrait of Christ. Not the kind of picture we are used to, but a dramatic, fearsome, Christ portrayed in tiles, tessare, I believe they are called.

The Jesus in this church's tiles was a risen glorified Christ, the eternal Word Himself. Let us not forget, He is not a carpenter any more. He did not just live a long time ago, He lives today. Soon to return in all his glory.

He certainly is not a baby, He has done that. Judgement is coming and He will do it. I am so glad.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sow in Tears, Reap in Joy

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

Has any nation had a history like Israel's? But what about you? What is your history?

The Egyptians had a custom. They would capture their tears in little bottles and seal them up. They saved their tears of joy often.

Are your tears in God's bottle? Has He sealed them up to remember them?

About 3,000 years ago David trusted God to remember his tears:

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears in thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Psalm 56:8

Time goes away as I read this. How can anyone not love the Old Testament. It is filled with raw emotion.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

But First Must He Suffer

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. Luke 17:25

There is a pattern in our lives, where suffering precedes joy. To really carry it out to its fullness we need to go beyond this life. We will go beyond this life. Christ set the model for this in his suffering in this world.

We do not see what lies ahead in its fullness. We only have the promises of what will be.

And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: Daniel 7:14

Is there any loss which He cannot restore? Only in our new bodies can we partake in the joy that awaits us.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

They Took My Dog Away

Her name was Belle. She was a black Cocker Spaniel. I asked that her tail not be cut when she was a tiny puppy, so she had a nice long feathery tail. I was a very young boy. She was my only companion for many hours in an empty house as I listened to Captain Midnight and other radio programs for children.

But her big love was when we went for long walks, or so they seemed to me. At the end of each walk there was a challenge. We would run across the railroad tracks not using the crossing. She took her leash in her mouth so she wouldn't trip. We ran as fast as we could. No reason, just for the fun of it.

She never faltered. Her little legs skipped over the tracks as if they were hurdles. Then there was a reward--lots of praise, hugs and kisses--for a "good job!".

One day our phone rang. My Dad mainly listened. "Son, we're going to give your dog away." A neighbor was complaining that her dog watched Belle, got excited and ripped her curtains. We couldn't have that. So I lost my friend Belle.

I saw her once again, a few years after she was taken away. She was in another room and heard my voice. She did not bark--she screamed, a piercing cry. I hugged her once before we had to go. I never saw her again.

Events shape our lives like a hammer on hot metal. As an old man, her memory still makes me cry. What did this hammer blow do for me? I learned that life isn't fair. Often your deep emotions are brushed away as if they did not stab your heart. You don't really matter.

And please don't talk about window treatments to me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sometimes a Fig Tree is Just a Fig Tree

So much has been invented concerning the parable of the fig tree, while the real meaning is lost.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. Matt 24:32.

"Now we know that the fig tree means the nation Israel. We know that the UN created Israel in 1948. We know that all these things Jesus talked about will happen in one generation. So figure a generation from 1948 and prophecy will be fulfilled."

The date of this event or events varied with how long you figured a generation to be. Many figured 30 years. But as 1978 came and went by, the time for a generation kept being advanced. You don't hear as much about this date setting any more.

That is how clever people talked. Now this is not a criticism against preaching about Israel. But what happened in 1948 was not the creation of Israel, or the fulfillment of prophecy.

Reminds me of a statement attributed to Ignatious Loyola, "Don't be too clever." But more than mere cleverness is not the problem here. Before we leap, or follow those who leap, we should look at the scriptures.

I cite Luke 21:29. And he spake to them a parable; Behold, the fig tree, and all the trees;

We could all gain if we checked the scriptures. Before we claim to know what the Bible means, should we not be certain what it says?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Kingdom of God is in the Pharisees

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21

My best friend gave me a nice King James Bible. It has large print and is easy to read, but is not a study Bible with a lot of notes. Yet it has a little note by the above verse--"Or among you."

So many teach and believe that the kingdom of God is a hidden, personal thing. It is something inside you. In fact it was in the Pharisees who questioned Jesus (Luke 17: 20).

But I do not. I believe the kingdom is without you. It will rule the world regardless of how you feel or do not feel about it. Imagine someone saying "The government of the United States is within you." Try not paying taxes based on that.

At the very moment these Pharisees asked Jesus about the kingdom, they were talking to the king.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

But Now, Jesus Said, "But Now"

The kingdom of God has been made so mystical and mysterious. Like only "experts" understand the kingdom. They tell us it is very hard to understand. Trouble with me is, I don't trust the "experts". I even put them in quote marks like they're not really experts at all.

Did Mary know about the kingdom of God? She certainly could not even read. Some people think that she was a simple, pure, woman who was not an expert at all. But she had a great advantage over all the others--the angel Gabriel spoke to her.

Gabriel told Mary about her baby's destiny. "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." Luke 1:32.

"his father David." Now Mary could understand this. David is documented in the Bible very well. No one's name is mentioned in the Bible more than David's . His throne is spoken of too.

This is not mysterious at all. Now I am going to say something shocking. The throne of David and his kingdom will be the Kingdom of God on the earth.

But experts say His kingdom is not of this world. Didn't Jesus himself say so?

Let us look at what Jesus said to Pilate:

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world, : if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. John 18:36.

But now, Jesus said. It was not yet time for him to be king. He had to die first.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Like a Quilt is Made

The last time I went to a fair I headed for the handicraft exhibits. I knew the quilts were there. Guess I am a guy type guy, but quilts fascinate me. I saw one being made once. In almost total silence a group of ladies sewed by hand. Sometimes an older hand had advice for the young ones.

I know that computerized sewing machines can turn quilts out quickly, but where is the joy in that? A good quilting session is not exciting. It is gentle, patient, work. All kinds of fabric may be used. Pieces that seem like nothing fit into the pattern to make it complete.

In the Kentucky countryside they are on sale from porches in the remote regions. The interlaced wedding rings are traditional, and very nice. How do they do it? Is there such a thing as a "developed gift"? First the yearning, then the work and the experience.

Good Bible study is like that. It can be very slow. Some people do not have the ability to do it. It is not exciting, but the results can be beautiful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Song of Solomon

Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. Song of Solomon 4:7

He prayed to understand this book of total love. Many had tried and failed. No one had the key to unlock it. They all knew it was about the love God had for His people. But they could not fit the pieces together.

Finally a man fastened upon it. He made it a prayer priority. Many wise teachers feel Harry Ironside's prayer was answered and yielded to his interpretation.

An old time preacher said, "Any part of the Bible can be understood, if you love it enough."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Liberal's Paycheck

He had a lot of bills to pay. His wife would lay them out for him, but he like to write the checks. He knew his balance to the penny. Money was important to him, he was very definite about that. He liked real estate and stocks too, and his nice car. He was at home with material things and always wanted more.

It was payday for his new job. His first check should be at the secretary's office. As a starter he would get $1,000. He had negotiated for that. Then there was the income he expected from the book he was working on, What the Bible Could Mean.

It was a ponderous volume of 971 pages. The first page had over 300 footnotes, starting with "the" as footnote number one.

He arrived at the office and stated his need--his money. The secretary had a vague, distracted look. She appeared to see right through him. She slid an envelope towards him and returned to her work.

Outside, he opened the envelope. There he found the following:

"Pay to the bearer an indefinite amount." The dollar sign had been crossed out. In its place were rupees, drachma, guilders, pesos, or whatever. "This check expires in 70 A D."

He panicked, what would he tell his wife? He was not sure.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Laughing at Peter

Several times I have heard Peter called "the big fisherman." I can't find such a Biblical reference. Must be the movie of that title starring Howard Keel.

I have also heard the laughter associated with his name. What could be funnier than one who betrayed Christ? None of us would have yielded to the pressure Peter was under. That Peter wept bitterly later is often left off--it not being funny.

I have heard a pastor mention Peter, then shake his head. We must never make a resolve, then fail to keep it. Of course we never do. But Peter was unforgivingly human. He did not follow through, like we always do.

Sometimes a congregation will join a pastor in his laughter. After all, the head man is laughing, we should too. I prefer the Bible to any preacher.

In the Bible we see Peter as the one who recognized Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. We see the only disciple who walked on water, who witnessed the transfiguration, and to whom are given the very keys of heaven.

But these facts are not funny. We won't mention them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Aunt Ellie

She was a little woman from the hill country. People there were noted for their feisty personalities. Hers had been modified by life to a more reflective mood. She lived with family. Her husband had died. Hers was mostly a solitary existence.

"I stay in my room," she told me. "I can hear people talking, sometimes arguing, but I stay out of it. I don't want to cause trouble."

She had a nice view, trees, mostly. "I study on 'em," she told me. "Some are young, just starting life. Some are old and gnarled, like me." There was no bitterness in her voice.

"People think we hill people don't know how to talk right,", she once confided. "Take 'heared'," she went on. "Now herd is supposed to be correct, but it is a bunch of animals." She paused to see if I got the message. "Heared is when you have listened to something." She went on to make her point.

She was visiting her sister. One morning it appeared she had lost her mind. She looked looney as she emerged from the bathroom. Her sister thought the worst. "Did you ever see anyone's hair so crazy?" Aunt Ellie finally spoke. She had left it as it was to show her. They laughed together.

I wanted to take their picture together, but they posed so formally, I resorted to a trick. The camera was set on a tripod and focused on them. I told them I wanted to get something and I would be right back.

I had threaded a timer on the shutter release and left the room. I could hear them talking and laughing as I waited outside the room. Suddenly there was a gasp as the flash went off. I reentered. "Sorry about the trick," I explained.

Back in the days of chemical photography, I had to develop the picture. There they were, seated close together, their heads almost touching as they shared a story. It was such a cute picture because they had thought they were alone.

This is how they were, long ago, alone together and natural as could be. How I miss such people, a type gone away. I am so eager to see them again, this time forever.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Has Your Government Been Satanized?

Please don't worry, this will not be a warning about evil governments. Rather, it is about the advantages of Satanization.

Almost over night your government can achieve real status! Great knowledge and great power are available through this process. Sooner or later you may be asked to join in a Satanic union. You can be ready to join soon. I mean join the revived Roman empire.

Too bad about the US, though. Looks like we are headed for the process of "Balkinisation" and may soon be a collection of regions instead of a nation. After all, we started out as a group of colonies.

How did this subject come about? My good friend Hilary mentioned that Walvoord believed the great dragon of Revelation was not Satan, but Rome. It has its points, but I hold that the dragon is Satan.

But what if we are both right? As much as I hate compromise, I can see each view has its points. What if the old Roman empire had never gone away? And what if the remaining parts of Rome were Satanized? There is your great power and knowledge. Of course it is not to last very long.

Jane of Virginia has issued a very wise warning--we are not to add to or subtract from the book of Revelation. We do not intend to ever violate this warning. But for those who are willing, its study is truly worthwhile.

This writer does not believe the process of Satanization has yet taken place. But that is in the near future. I believe we can be joyfully ready to leave before it does take place (Rev. 3:10).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Sound the Refrigerator Makes

We used to listen to an all-night radio program. The host, Jean Shepherd, would say, "If you're sitting alone tonight, in a quiet house, and listening to the sound the refrigerator makes, come on out and join us."

He mentioned an eating spot. On my eighteenth birthday, someone drove me out to the place, as a special treat. I got to meet my radio friend. He shook hands with me, congratulated me on my birthday, and said, "May you have sixty five more."

He is gone now and I am approaching my last days. I have learned about the refrigerator's sound. It's that quiet in my home. I forgo t v and radio. Too many breaks and too much froth for me. Silence can be good. But the pain closes in too. The pain of sorrow. So many have gone before me, some quite young.

Often, the sounds of their voices, and the images of these people is more real than the people surrounding me. Something has been lost in my life. Old photographs come alive, of people both young and full of life.

It seems so wrong that they have passed on and I remain. Even lost pets haunt me. My childhood dogs and cats who have lived and died so long ago.

I know the scriptures that promise all will be restored, all will be well. If it were not for these reassurances, I believe I would go insane.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Uncle Arthur Gets One Wrong

As a child I hated to go to bed and go to sleep. My litte mind was always going. But my mother would read to me from Uncle Arthur. She had bought a set of his bedtime stories. "Just one more, please," I would beg.

The stories had morals to them. I didn't want to be taught so much as to prolong the inevitable, lights out! The stories were expanded into a large set of blue books. You may have seen them, sometimes in doctor's offices.

The illustrations were pretty good. I remember the sleeping king dreaming of the great image in Daniel chapter two.. But I was much older now and tried to be more discerning. I saw the prophet Daniel on his hands and knees. He was seeing the latter days. Knowledge had increased and there was much running to and fro.

Daniel was supposed to be dazzled by it all. Seemed logical. But it was so wrong. The vision being illustrated was from the end of the book of Daniel:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Daniel 12:4

Many a preacher has used this passage to prove that we are living in the last days. As the church, we have been living in the last days for a long time. But the reference is to Israel, and her last days are yet future. "But many are running to and fro," some say. "And knowledge certainly has increased."

Such a pitiful attempt to make the Bible fit the times! I learned that the authors of the series teach a gradual fulfillment of prophecy where events will quickly be brought about.

Years went by. The scripture reference remained a mystery. Someone wrote about its true meaning and cleared it up for me. The passage is about Israel's current blindness and its ending some day. A literal reading is:

The eyes of many shall run to and fro over this prophecy. Their knowledge of it shall greatly increase.

This will occur in Israel's latter days. Christ will be revealed to them.

Uncle Arthur put me to sleep many a night, but I am awake now.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Gate of Heaven

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:12

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid , and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Genesis 28:16,17

How lovely is Genesis. It is so easy to glorify these people, to make them super human. It is enough to realize they really lived. In some ways, they were children, primal people unmarked by civilization. But the first city was built by Cain and the mark was upon him. A sinner protected by God who had mercy upon him. How can anyone read these things and not feel the power and passion in them?

When my little cousin Mary Catherine died, so young, so innocent, I thought of her in heaven. I had not learned of the rapture. No one knew about it or told me of it.

I have seen her grave. I remember a sweet, quiet little girl, with long braids. Her mother loved to braid her hair. One week I was playing with her, then she was gone. I did not understand. I was not taught of the wonderful resurrection that awaits us.

All I knew was heaven and I wanted to be there. I wanted to go there and be with Mary Catherine. I still do. I want to go through that gate.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Other Lazarus

An entire theology uses the story of Lazarus and the rich man as its basis. This story is becoming known now as a parable, not as a description of an afterlife.

But the story of the resurrection of Jesus' friend in John chapter eleven is no parable. It is a literal account. Martha understood what many today do not understand--the sleep of death.

Jesus says of his friend, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. John 11: 11.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. John 11:14.

I wonder why we do not hear of Martha's words, but instead hear of another Lazarus?

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. John 11:23.

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: John 11:24 and 25

Our theology has been diluted. So many do not understand. The clergy often mislead us, but Martha knew Jesus as a friend. Martha understood.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Baby is Born

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:13

Probably the hardest part of being born is choosing your parents. Wouldn't you agree? I mean if you had made the wrong choice you would not have been born. Someone else would.

Then there is the time of year. I like summer, so I chose June 19th. It is hard to believe I was so wise. My free will came through for me once again.

I was calling my father "Daddy" at an early age, as soon as I was born, actually. Some people may think you are born first, then later you call him "Abba,father."

It was all up to me--parents, time of year, knowing who had given me life. But I figured it all out on my own. I am so proud.

Oh, God did His part, but the idea was mine.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do Not Teach Prophecy, Especially Revelation!

It was in the nineteen forties and I was about nine years old.I had found a copy of Believe It Or Not, by Ripley. .My little mind was just opening up. I proudly read the words of a section called "contradictions". "the steel guitar is not made of steel, but is played with a piece of steel."

I got about three of them off. My father scowled,"Debunk, debunk, debunk, that's all you do." I had been so proud of my new knowledge.

But I had made a serious mistake. I had found errors. I had contradicted. My job was to learn and believe what the authorities said.

Later, a voice came over the car radio. Someone had given us a ride. As we were getting out of the car, the voice began to speak of the book of Revelation. "Hold on, mister," my father muttered. "You're getting in over your head. You're talking about things no one understands."

It was a dark warning. The man was probably a fanatic. Who else would talk about the forbidden book. We weren't meant to know about it.

As a young man, a member of the church I belonged to had lunch with me. I was talking about Revelation. Particularly, chapter seven. I read off the twelve tribes that comprised the one hundred and forty four thousand. As I finished with the tribe of Benjamin, he said, "Of course that is the church." Wonder which tribe he belonged to?

My pastor reluctantly agreed to my teaching Revelation. "I was told "Do not teach prophecy. It divides people," he told me. Wonder who told him that? Better to obey them than follow the Bible. Blessed is he that readeth, and they which hear the words of this prophecy, ... Revelation 1:3.

So many warn you not to study it, or tell you how difficult it is. I have ignored them.

Debunk, debunk, debunk. That's all I do.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Paid Her Monday

A true skeptic is skeptical even of his own skepticism, tomorrow I may believe.
David Hume

Confession of a high school skeptic--I was one. I was so smart and dumb people were the believers.

We had moved into a nice old house. Two school teachers had lived there. They had left most of their possessions behind. One of them called one day. Could she please have her old can opener? But they had left their books. I didn't find any pirate stories or Robin Hoods, so I left them alone. I was only six.

Years later, when I had proclaimed my atheism, I went exploring in the attic. There I found a curious volume of forgotten lore, as Poe would say. It had a Latin title, the chapter headings were in Greek. It was called Pater Mundi. I was intrigued. Could this old volume, from another century, hold my interest?

Inside, I found the classic proofs of God's existence. Give him a chance, I thought. The old man doesn't know any better. I thought of him as old. But as he laid out his case, I was astounded. The author had total logic at his command. He was of a scientific mind. He was so logical, I was caught in the net of it all.

But the author went far beyond any pious reasoning I had ever heard. He said that the existence of evil in the world was used as an excuse for doubt. How could God let bad things happen? There were several answers to this seeming dilemma, he explained.

Maybe God exists, but is too weak to overcome the evil of the world? He went on. The presence of evil is only an objection to the existence of a good God. What if God was evil!

He asked one to believe if there was more evidence for God's existence than against it? A fair person would yield their unbelief if there was the slightest preponderance of evidence. Then he reasoned tons of evidence.

I was defeated, but would not acknowledge it. Walking home with a Catholic friend, I expressed my doubt. He objected. "Father Montanus says unbelievers just can't admit there is anyone greater than they are."

That was, for me, the fatal blow. That night I prayed with tears in my eyes. Forgive me Lord, I believe. I thought of the words of Jesus, "O ye of little faith." That had been me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

From Omar Khyyam to Christ

My sister belonged to a book club. Soon she hadn't time to read her books, but I did. This was a low point in my young life. People had failed me so far. My father would rather talk about what he had had for lunch than show any interest in his son.

Packages arrived at my quiet home. One was a paisley jacketed volume, lavishly illustrated of a world I knew nothing of. People sitting under trees, drinking wine, some of a man merely thinking. I was thinking too. I did not like what surrounded me, people or things. How many young people know what they hate, but not what they love?

I put away the volume, but it stayed in my mind. I was surrounded by industry, workers doing their jobs, and little else. I saw nothing that would appeal to a young man like me. So many questions were on my mind. No one had the answers. I reopened the volume, out of curiosity. Beautiful illustrations beguiled me. Then the words. It was the Rubiyat of Omar Khyyam. Omar had all the questions I had. I was awakened. Here was a man who thought.

Omar did not have the answers I needed, but my mind was turned on, never to be turned off. I did not understand yet, but this was my preparation. Later on, not much later, I found Christ. Jesus had the answers.

With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand laboured it to grow:
And this was all the harvest that I reaped-
I came like water, and like the wind I go.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"I'm Saved," She Said - We Were Shocked

Her name was Harriet, she was young, still in high school. She asked to speak to the congregation of our little church. She stood before us and began to speak. "I am a sinner who was saved. Thank God my sins are forgiven. I am so thankful that Jesus has saved me."

We were shocked. How dare anyone, especially anyone so young, say they were saved? We knew that a lot of good works had to be piled up for a person to be saved. Even then, it might not be enough. We were supposed to be working on our salvation, all of us. Giving money was good, attending church was very important. I got a little white Bible for perfect attendance. My dog chewed it up pretty good.

Ours was a small church, but we hoped we would grow. "The church is growing," my father said. So many times that even my sister, who worshipped him, could not stand it. Still, we knew that although there were temporary setbacks, we would eventually save the world.

If we just attended enough meetings, that might do it. Meetings were very important, I still don't know why. Foreign missions were good. The farther away the people, the better.

My father was president of the Sunday School. I remember him, chin on fist, studying the incomprehensible lessons. Years later, after enough people complained, the church admitted it. The lessons were terrible and had to be discontinued. They had been busy work only.

In all this time, my mother was not certain of her own salvation. My father, busy as he was, never knew it.

No wonder, is it, that religion was not for me? I left the church, never to return, not to that denomination. Turns out, Harriet was right, not studying lessons, or endless meetings, were the answer.

It was so simple, I finally found out, Jesus doesn't just do "His part". He does it all.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nobody Reads My Books

This was my grandmother's lament. The books she spoke of were by M.R. DeHaan. Loveable but foolish, old woman, I thought. DeHaan had been a physician who gave up his practice to teach the Word of God.

And teach he did, by radio and books, the ones she complained about. I was quite young. Though a believer, his literalness was too much for me. Giants upon the earth--who believed that? He cited Genesis 6. I wouldn't even read that part of the Bible. Her own son did not believe in God, and married a woman who did not. My grandmother was alone in her faith.

She was named Arizona, named after the territory that became a state the year she was born. Her husband, a faithful believer, had died, leaving her by herself. We visited and got along well. "Grandma, they have their own books to read." I spoke of her son and his family. But she mourned for those who laughed at the Word.

Years went by and my faith grew. What if the stories in Genesis were true? I bought a little book on Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks, but found it incomprehensible. By then, I realized the fault was mine. Oh how slowly God works! How patient He is! Years roll by and some of us develop so slowly.

Grandma, I wish I could speak to you now. Your books are treasures. I have studied them. Your son did not read your books, but your grandson did.

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:4

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Frank Sinatra Theology

And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; Matt. 27:51

About Frank, many once almost worshipped this man. Some despised him. Others considered him an excellent singer. I have another view in mind. He was a sensitive actor who got even better with the passage of time.

I am thinking of "The First Deadly Sin," where a man's wife dies. See how many times a cross is portrayed in this film.

Why mention theology, and why Frank? When asked what his views on religion were, Mr. Sinatra said that it was between a person and God, with no one intervening. Sounds like what I believe. Imagine being able to pray directly to God. When Christ died the way was opened. To many an alien idea. But I try to do it every day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Ten Lost Trash

Not long ago I had lunch with the man who invented Tater Tots. Actually we ate three meals together, every day. We were seated at the same table at a rest home in our wheel chairs. His name is Bob Wilson. I looked him up and his is quite a story. He is eighty nine years old. Not only did he invent Tater Tots, he named them.

He has the presence of a battleship coming into a deep water harbor. He complained about the draft of the overhead fans. A server said she would take care of it. She was too busy. Finally, he put his electric wheelchair into reverse. He rolled over to the switchbox and turned them off himself.

A tall young man walked by and they greeted one another. "He's one of the lost ten tribes," Bob told me. He was an Ethiopian with a regal bearing. Like to know his story.

But there are no lost tribes. For a very important reason. The twelve tribe Israel threatened to split up. It was similar to our war between the states. But with one important difference. The religious people came back, they did not stay split.

The ten northern tribes had decided to rebel against Judah and Benjamin. King David's descendant Rehoboam , wanted to retain his nation's unity. His troops girded for battle, 2 Chronicles eleven verse one.

Again, like our own Battle Between the States. But here is the big difference. Second Chronicles eleven verses two through four tells how God intervened. There was no war. True, ten tribes did split away. In verse thirteen we see that the priests and Levites resorted to Judah. They strengthened Judah. God was shedding idolatrous people.

Why do I care that the separation was of God? My mother in law followed someone who believed in Anglo-Israelism, that the U.S. and Britain are the so-called ten lost tribes. She separated from her church and was very bitter about it. She followed the Feasts of Israel the best she could.

Later, as she was dying, a kindly pastor explained it all to her. Her last words to us were, "I'm back in the fold, I'll see you in the rapture."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

If Any Man

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20

Seven churches are listed in the early parts of this marvelous book. After chapter three the churches are not mentioned as being on the earth. They are portrayed as being in heaven with Lord Jesus. Don't bother with trying to fit her in. From then on you are reading about the Jews and Gentiles. We are promised--wonderful promise--that we shall be saved from a terrible time that is coming. The promise is in Rev. 3:10.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Don't hear much about this promise, but it is there. After you read the letters to the seven churches, you read this; an offer to open the door and sup with Jesus! But this offer is to any man, not to the churches. Don't want to be too tricky, but Jesus is making each person in the churches a wonderful invitation. Is your church an apostate one? Are they heading that way? Many feel they are. If you object or question, you are often not answered.

If you are ignored, or shunned, the invitation remains there. Hear Him, and open the door when he knocks.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Just One More Hug

Our class at the old folks home had concluded. I turned on my tape machine. Pomp and Circumstances began to play. I called each name so they could come forward and receive a carnation with a diploma.

"It's the first time in my life I ever received a diploma," said an older man.

I shook the hand of each man as he was handed his paper. A long, detailed, study had earned it. We had studied Daniel. Each lady got a hug. It seemed right, we had been in the study for two months and gotten to know one another.

At last a frail little lady came forward. She received her diploma and I gave her a hug. She closed her eyes. Who was she thinking of, I wondered? She stepped away. Then she came back, to hug me again. All her needs had been met at the home. But she needed another hug.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Mute Lady Sang

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: Isaiah 35:6

I was surrounded by people waiting for their food. A woman was wheeled in, a new person. Her face was angry. She turned to look at me and gave me a hateful look.

Few people talked, even though they could. One was a refined looking lady with gray hair. She could not speak. She had been a choir director, now she was silent. Her daughter came by to coax her to eat.

The lady with the hateful look had lowered her head to her plate. She was trying to eat like a dog. A horrified doctor spoke. "What are you doing?" he called to her, "What are you DOING?"

Many of us were fortunate to be doing anything. She was trying to survive.

Our directer of entertainment spoke one night. She had her electronic keyboard out. She played both keyboard and guitar very well. "Has anyone got a favorite song?" No one spoke. We knew she was working on a song titled "I'm Going to Leave You as Soon As I Fix My Truck".

I asked for my favorite hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." The lady had no music for it. She shuffled through music books. "Have you heard of Cokesbury?" she asked. I had, a long time ago. She found the song there.

She began to play the hymn. People sang along. Then the mute choir lady began to sing. Her face had changed from its vague look to an expression of concentration. Her voice was clear. She knew the words too. Something had taken place. Now she could sing.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Little Drummer Boy

He sat in front of the TV set. He was my father. Badly crippled since a child, now his mind was almost gone too. His wife had just died. he was never to know it. All he knew was she was "away". His hand waved to the audience. "I don't know if they can see us, too,", he said.

A drummer on tv was playing. His hands moved as if playing the drums. Once so strong and capable, they no longer had any work to do.

Then he was gone. Part of my job was to burn his possessions. What little was left. It was dark in the room. The January cold, like my grief, would not relent. A fire in the fire place was the only light as I burned piles of greeting cards. some from his brothers. They were dead too. Atop the burning cards I placed his old high top shoes.

I read some of his cards before I burned them. They were signed by hands that were also stilled. Dead messages to a dead man.

Nothing lasts, love itself seemed gone. I looked again at the fire. My Dad's shoes were red hot. Even the laces were glowing light. Then I thought, they were glorified. He will be some day too.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Little Boy Who Wanted to be a Teacher

My Brethren, let not many be teachers, for those who teach shall incur a stricter judgement. James 3:1

He sat in the semi-darkness of a movie theater. A very serious film was being shown. Nazis were taking over a town. People were being indoctrinated about the wonderful master race.

But the camera showed a school room, not a battlefield. A very earnest teacher was illustrating the hypocrisy of the so called Aryan leaders. Their pictures were in view.

"This so called new race is not what is represented by its leaders." He stood to one side and reached out to the pictures. He started with Hitler, "Blond hair, and moved to a dark visage, "blue eyes", pausing as each was pointed out. The students gaped.

As he spoke, two SS men entered the room and took him away. He was gone, but his message remained. At that moment a little boy thought, "That is what I want to do."

That was not to be realized for many years. But this day's message stayed in his mind. Not, how wonderful is the teacher, but what is he revealing? Can he stand back and let the truth be revealed? Can he use just a few words?

To be a teacher, not a ball player, popular at the time, or make a lot of money, which has always been a goal. Find the Truth, let people see it, that was the resolve. He did not dig the Grand Canyon, he was just a guide. How well did he do? The Great Teacher will judge that some day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sleeping Beauty

For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes:the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. Isaiah 29:10

Israel lies asleep. All attempts to wake her have failed. Like sleeping beauty, only the kiss of the Prince will wake her. Until that day, not even the UN can wake her up.

Some say she will never awaken. Some say the church has taken her place forever. The one nation that God has chosen will not always sleep. But while she sleeps, a wonderful work is being accomplished. A church is being called out. From all kinds of people.

The first church council, in the fifteenth chapter of Acts, explains it all.

Sam Cook, the singer, sang a song, "It's Just a Matter of Time." And so it is, for you and for me. And then, the Bride will be ready.

The church does not include everyone. She is the Bride. The Son does not marry everyone. She is so special!

God has a plan for all. Right now the light is on us. Am I taking any credit for being so special? I am thanking Him for treating me so. I sure don't feel special at all. But part of the mystery of God is who He chooses. Am I greater than other men? Was Israel the greatest of nations? No, to both questions.

What can He form of clay? As the great potter, He can make what he desires. He can make me out of clay, and he can lift up Israel when it is time. And He will.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Father, I Want a Bride

Before the world is made, I know just what I want
She must be perfect in every way, altogether lovely
She must be free from spot or wrinkle
When she falls, I will pick her up
I will create her and cherish her
I will clean her up if she gets dirty
I will do anything for her, forgive her every flaw
I will love her above all else
I will love her so much that I will suffer anything for her
I would be mocked and scourged
I will even give my life for her

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wanted, Dead or Alive!

How wonderful to be wanted, when the one who wants you is the Son of God. He is coming for his church any time now. He is the Bridegroom and we are His bride. It is marriage time we are talking about. Right now we are engaged, and that is good too.

Imagine a newspaper notice that reads: The happy couple will spend a blissful seven years in heaven, and shall return to help rule the world. That's us. A wonderful dinner has been planned. It is to be called The Marriage Supper of The Lamb.

The Groom is heir to the world.

Dead? It is not a problem. Those who sleep in Christ will be summoned and resurrected to be with their husband. Story is continued in 1st Corinthians chapter 15.

A sign has been posted in a baby nursery as a reminder. It reads:

"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Want to Die

Sounds awful to say it, but it is not negative at all. I was charged with having “dark thoughts” by some. But they are very bright thoughts. Truth is, I want to go to heaven. I really feel I am at the end of my useful life. If I was a can of peaches you would not buy me.

Paul led the way, by saying he wanted to be with Christ.

Indulge me while I thank people who make me want to go on. Kymber started my whole blog and for quite a time entered my stories. She has ever been an inspiration to me. Jane of Virginia has given me so much encouragement. I cannot thank her enough. A man who described himself as an “old man with an old Bible” helps a lot. It is what I am, too.

I do not wish to leave my friends, whom I love so much. I do not even wish to leave my cat who cuddles up with me at night. Guess I want to be where sorrow is no more. Too much has ganged up on me. A mostly wasted life, too many graves and lives ended so soon. Jimmy, who jumped off the tar wagon with me, once jumped into a raging stream when I slipped.

He put his arm around me until I could climb out. Now he is gone. Things haunt you when you become old. A sparkling stone my wife Janie picked up in a mountain stream is still on her desk, but she is gone. My body is failing. After all, at my age, what would I expect?

Hours before she died my wife told me to go home. She knew I was very tired. She was wearing a little cap. Her tangling hair was shaved off. We had talked about how death might feel. I had come very close.

Abdominal cramps, then the lights go out. You come to, ringed with concerned nurses and doctors. They test your memory to see if any brain damage has occurred. But Janie was waiting for a voice to call to her, “Come up here." So am I. Her last words to me as she leaned on one elbow, “See you soon.”

I knew what she meant. She was dead a few hours later.

- Gerald Franz, The Last Robin

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Tar Wagon

What a nifty job, an honor, really. To fill a garden sprinkling can with molten tar and pour it out on the road to help mend it. I watched a man fill the can and pour the tar. I was a little boy and I was fascinated.

Then the wagon was retired. It had become a relic in a sand lot. But not to me and my friend Jimmy. It was an opportunity waiting for us.

Jimmy was from a different world and a different time. He could catch fish with his bare hands. He seemed to know a lot about his world, and not much about the other one. At school, he copied someones test perfectly, even the person's name. His teacher soon understood why she received two tests with the same name.

Why not climb all over the tar wagon? It was crusted with tar. It was so old it had wooden spoked wheels. We climbed the old wagon. No one cared. Then we thought, Why not jump from the top of the wagon into a big sand pile below?

I forget who jumped first. The sand was gentle and forgiving. We jumped with no fear. One challenge remained--jump backwards with your eyes shut. We did this. The big sand pile caught us. We were never hurt.

As a man, Jimmy developed lung cancer. His wife said his last wish was to be baptized. I believe pride kept him from coming to Christ sooner. I had, long ago. One morning he did not wake up. His wife found him dead, a little blood on his pillow. He sleeps in Christ.

Each of us made a bigger leap than from the tar wagon, years ago. We turned from pride, closed our eyes and jumped. Jesus caught us.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Me and My Shadow

I was walking home from a violin lesson. It was a sunny day. I moved automatically, neither happy or sad. A shadow caught my attention--my shadow. My little mind was filled with one thought. "If I cast a shadow I must be real." This was a psychotic moment. I had just discovered I was alive.

Years later at college, I attended a noon time meeting, very informal. A group had assembled to give their questions to a pastor. He was a properly quiet, sober, young man. I felt the good will in the room. People had questions and the pastor would try to answer them.

A young man volunteered. He stood out from the others in his neatness. He wore a corduroy suit. His hair was neat. What could be wrong? A sunny day, a quiet room of tinted glass, earnest people? Then his question. "I guess the big one for me is, Do we exist?"

The pastor spoke. "I believe Renee Dacarte answered that when he said, 'I think, therefore I am.'"

Should I have spoken out? I did not, though it was the only question I remember from that session. Sorry pastor. Sorry Renee. You meant well. But when a generation asks, "Do we exist?" We have deep trouble.

Please, someone, say it! We exist when we hurt, when no one cares about us. Why are we having children? So we can leave our fortunes to them when we die? I think we already have died.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I was such a lonely kid. A skinny little guy. My parents both worked. I fixed my own breakfast and lunch, usually a can of soup. An empty house awaited me after school or in the summer. I often wet my bed. In those days I would have been termed neurotic. But my mind was turning on. Nature was so appealing as spring broke. I loved nature, but also chemistry.

Today was a blending of both. I learned that sulfur fumes were used to bleach paper and cloth and would even bleach flowers. I had cleaned out a peanut butter jar for an experiment. I wandered around a garden bed bordering a neighbor's house. We had just moved in. My jar was filled with the fumes of sulfur. I was breaking off a lilac flower as a little figure appeared.

"I hope you're not catching insects, are you? They frighten me, but they have a right to be free."

This was how I met Minerva Flavin, who was to be my friend.

We talked. I told her about my experiment of bleaching flowers. She was interested! At last someone cared.

As I told Minnie of my interest in the sulfur dioxide, she looked with fascination. I opened the jar and placed the lilac blossom inside.

We continued to talk. She treated me as adult. She was the last of her line I found later. Her parents were long dead and she had never married. When she was gone, she said her family would all be dead.

I held up the jar. The lilac had turned white. Minnie was astonished. "My, my," she exclaimed. "Let's try some other flowers."

Dandelions refused to turn white, but violets lost their color. A little moisture helped I learned.

The summer passed too fast, as it does for children. But not my friendship with Minnie. I would ring her doorbell and she would invite me up. Her furniture was covered with cloths, the shutters were closed, the house was dark. At the top of the stairs I could hear the hiss of the gas jet on her little stove. She lived upstairs. Her front room was her little kitchen, in a closet. She had no refrigerator and cooled things, like butter, with wet cloths over earthenware crocks.

She had been a seamstress and still had her long bladed shears. She and her friends used to go to the opera, she said, eyes sparkling. On a shelf were her opera glasses.

"Would you care for some coffee?" she asked. Coffee was forbidden to children in our house. "It will stunt your growth," I was told. I had some anyway. The taste was so strange to a pop drinking kid--so strong. But I liked it and never forgot my first cup.

Minnie was Irish. Many in the neighborhood were, but she really was. A staunch Catholic, she had a large picture of the Sacred Heart over the fireplace. I had gone to her house at Halloween, dressed as a cowboy. She did not answer the doorbell. I found out she believed the dead came out of their graves on this night. It was no happy time for her.

Years passed. I did not see her much. One day the mailman walked off her porch. As he passed a clump of grass, he had a frightened look. There was Minnie trying to cut the grass with her seamstress shears, her white hair blowing in the wind. Her yard had gone wild, and she fought it.

Soon her little body was carried out of her home, covered with a wine colored cloth. A hearse had backed into her drive crushing some of the high grass. Soon the grass recovered. It rose up. It was as if Minnie had never lived. But not to me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Wounded Nurse

“I’ll put the cord on your chair,” she said.

I was in our little lunch room and was to be given the call cord while she was away, briefly. Her hair hung down as she tied the cord. She stuck her tongue out at me. She was a communicator!

She was marrying a slightly older man. He had found that two of his children were not his and was shattered. “Who else would be crazy enough to marry someone like me?”

She uttered more demeaning remarks in a light way, as if she was one big joke.

Our wheelchairs were lined up for shower time. I saw her nearby.

“Could you do something for me?” I asked. “I heard you knocking yourself several times today.”

“It’s because of my crappy childhood,” she replied.

“Please don’t knock yourself. What happened to you is not you. It was something that happened to you.”

She bent over and placed her face next to mine before she walked away.

So many hurting people! In this state, where laughter is almost compulsory, she was hurting. My problems were just to get over my stroke. I soon forgot about them. Hers will be with her until she dies.

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. I heard an old preacher say that we never get over our childhoods. So true, I am afraid. Brave soul she was. Hard not to love her.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Few Words Were All He Needed

His air conditioner had fallen off his trailer. He covered the hole with cardboard. The daytime temperature reached 104 degrees. “I can tough it out," he thought.

Like lightning, he had a stroke, then a heart attack. While he lay in his cot he heard a voice telling him he must get up. "You need to get some fluids,” the voice said. He tried to get up, but could not. The voice was his own.

He lay unconscious for a long time, newspapers accumulated. Efforts to call by phone failed. A good friend became concerned and had the life squad break down his door. You was taken to an intensive care unit. Your heart was beating fast, your body was at room temperature.

For a time he remained semi-conscious. A tube was placed in his nose and down his throat to feed him. He helped the woman who did it by swallowing it down. The tube was taped to his nose. "You look like an elephant," a visitor said.

The tube and tape bothered him. Finally he pulled the tube out and peeled off the tape. "Oh, Gerald, look what you’ve done!” a voice said. "Why did you pull out the tube?”

"Something to do," you answered. A grin was formed on your face like a mask.

"I can think of lots of things you could do besides that," The voice was a mournful rebuke. You could not. You went back into a slumber.

As your vision returned, you looked through a hall door. There was a picture on the wall. A woman was held aloft by a crowd of revelers. It was a rite of some kind, maybe a bacchanal . It was an evil scene.

You were being held prisoner by evil people. You had to get away. A friend could help you, though he was unable to drive. He would get a cab and wait outside. You could hide in a woods until they stopped searching for you.

If you could get to the window and get it open. You had read books on how firemen exit a burning building. You had a hook and a descender. You could do it.

Gentle hands were at your face. There was a blue rectangle with a dark cord on it. Someone was giving you something, though you felt nothing. It was gray dark. All you could see was a doorway. Could you get through the door?

A figure appeared in the doorway. He laughed. "You’ll never get out this way," was what he implied.

At last you had recovered enough to be transferred in a wheel chair. Past the picture, it was a little girl picking roses. Their flowers were the crowd you had imagined. No more dreams about being free, then waking up to see the doorway and hearing a hum.

Sense retuned, people had been helping you, they had saved your life . But you had felt so alone and trapped. You could only feel gratitude. But you had needed one thing. Someone to talk to you--maybe a volunteer--telling you where you were and why. You were a word person. All you had needed were a few words.