Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Today is the day that we celebrate Halloween. Growing up it was a big deal for us because there were six of us and it gave us an opportunity to get a huge pile of candy and treats. Back in those days no one would have ever had a thought about someone putting a razor blade or laxative or poison in our candy. I’m not saying it would have been impossible but it was never something that even came up on our radar screens. Nearly everyone in the community back in those days participated by giving out treats. They used to like to stand at their door and look at each costume and guess who each child was. Many times our outfits were homemade but there were times whenever mom was able to buy us rubber masks.

I suppose the dark side of Halloween was never an issue because no one really participated in it that way. We never even thought about how that demons and devils were being celebrated. It was more like a big dress-up celebration where everyone got to enjoy going from door to door and receiving treats. Now there were some who couldn’t afford to hand out store bought candy. They, instead, gave out homemade cookies, fruit, or popcorn balls. Some, however, could not cook very well and the kids soon learned which houses to stay away from.
I was a part of quite a bit of mischief growing up but I cannot remember any tricks I pulled on Halloween. That’s surprising given the fellows I ran with as a young teenager. I have heard some really tall tales about some of the pranks that were pulled. I believe my mom tells the story about an elderly lady actually sitting in her outhouse when it got pushed over by some boys. It turned out to be a really bad thing because the lady was very frail. This may have been a real thing that happened or it may have been one told to warn us not to do things that could end up hurting someone.
Our kids grew up celebrating Halloween with lots of energy and fun. Fairly soon we became a part of a variety of Churches that offered festival alternatives given how the holiday began to be a cause of concern. Many years ago we had this fellow here in the Southeast Texas area that actually poisoned his own child on Halloween to collect insurance money. Then we began to have folks discover different objects embedded in the candy. Hospitals began opening up their x-ray facilities for checking treats. Wow! My how times had begun to change.

Tonight our Church is having a festival called Heroes Unmasked. It will be something like a carnival along with games and prizes with snacks and, of course, lots of candy given out. Many of the children will be dressed as Bible characters. Many of the games where they compete for prizes will have a biblical theme. If it’s like it has been in the past we will be overrun with people as they seek a safe place to let their children enjoy this celebration. It won’t be the same as it was when we roamed all over the place going from house to house, but it will still be fun, and in the end, they, just like us, will still have the opportunity to get a big ole belly ache from eating way too much candy! ....More later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Good Old Days Test

I copied these from a website and couldn’t believe that I do remember almost every one of them, and most of them all too well. I’m not sure where this places me but I’m certain that identifying with these does put me in my place. So take a look and see just how many of them you can identify with and then you will know exactly which era you fit into. Wow! Sadly, it seems like only yesterday…………..

The Good Old Days

Do you remember the good old days? Well I sure do! If your memory needs a little nudge, some of these things will take you right back, and I hope bring a smile to your face!

Sometimes you picked up the phone and heard voices! Remember those party lines! We shared the lines! You had to remember your ring before you answered the phone, one long, two short!

Playing tag and hide and go seek on a summer evening.

Catching lightening bugs in a jar. Sometimes we pinched off the glowing end and put it on our finger for a glorious glowing ring! (I feel so guilty! How could we do that?)

Wringer washers! What work that was,and then if you didn't get your arm caught in the wringer you had to lug a basket of wetclothes to the back yard and hang them on the line.

Sprinkle bottles...remember how we had to sprinkle down the clothes after they dried and roll them up tight and put them back in the basket? Then came the hard part! We ironed everything!

Do you remember any of these: Window fans, Kick the Can, roller skates with keys, coonskin caps, hula hoops, 45 records,cherry cokes, juke boxes, pony tails, bobbi sox, penny loafers, sideburns, Breck & Halo Shampoo, drive in movies, jacks, going home for lunch, marbles, monopoly, rabbit ears, aluminum glasses, sweater sets, white gloves, and can can slips, the smell of Old Spice, penny candy, and Mother May I.

How about? See The USA In Your Chevrolet. You'll wonder where the yellow went if you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.
Step on a crack...break your mother's back.

Red Rover, Red Rover, won't you come over.
Pepsi-cola hits the spot, 12 full ounces that's a lot. Twice as much for a nickel too Pepsi Cola is the drink for you.
Hi! I'm Buster Brown, I live in a shoe! That's my dog Tige, and he lives there too!

…..More later.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Ain't It Good To Be Back Home Again!

My wife and I went over to visit my parents in Louisiana on Saturday. It makes for a very long day but one that’s always filled with joy from seeing my mom and dad and being back in the town and in the house where much of my life was founded and built. One of my two sisters was also able to visit with us and we talked and talked and laughed and remembered old times as well as sharing our hearts about the present. It was one of those wonderful days when after you’ve been going for eighteen hours you fall into bed but sleep the sleep of a blessed experience and thank God for allowing us one more time when we were able to be together.

One of the things that dad and I often do when I am home is go for a long walk around the little town where I grew up. Yes, it has changed and many of the folks I knew as a child have passed on to their reward. Some of the houses have been torn down and new ones are now standing where they once occupied their spot. Some are still there and they’ve been remodeled, updated, and are now occupied by grandchildren or someone who has come into town since I left for Texas back in 1969.

However, when I walk those streets I see it all as it was way back when. There’s the school where I attended from 3rd grade through 12th. There’s many memories out on that playground, some good and some not so good. Many of the buildings are essentially the same. The gym has been upgraded and the high school has been refurbished but the elementary still has the same bricks that were on it when I came to live in that sleepy little town in 1954. Across from the school is the Evans place where I spent many hours just hanging out. Both Lynn and Carlton who were some of my buddies from grade school through high school have already passed on to the other side.

I spotted that place where the asphalt between the gym and the elementary school building joins. That’s exactly where I fell running flat out one day and hit a jagged edge and ripped a gash in my knee all the way to the bone. Mr. Gaskin drove me to the nearest hospital in Leesville. I was maybe twelve years old but I remember well seeing that speedometer pegged at 120 miles per hour. My mom had to meet us there from her job and the doctor sewed me up without it being fully deadened. I thought my mom was going to clobber that doctor. She was fuming.

Right across from the high school is First Baptist Church. That was where the town elite went when I was a kid. The store owners and the political leaders all went there. We were a part of the common folks associated with that Bible Baptist Church, a narrow minded independent bunch who believed the Bible was the only guide to Church practice. Mentioning Bible Baptist floods me with too many memories to even begin to cover. Maybe I will do a blog on our many years there one day in the future.
We then passed by the road that used to take us down to Dr. Stephens’ office where he would check us over and send us home to be treated with a combination of medicines and home cures. I believe he delivered most of my grandparents children and there were eight of them. I know he used to talk about how huge the twins, Uncle Jack and Aunt Jean, my mom’s brother and sister were when they were born, at home, of course, and I believe they weighed in at over twenty pounds together. Up until he got too old he had always done house visits but when he died I don’t think the town has had another doctor since. Some no doubt would have many issues with his approach to medicine but I guess his testimony of effectiveness can be seen in how many of us survived all the childhood diseases that we had to endure.
Then we walked around by the Bill Ford place which is directly across from the Poston’s home place. Mr. Poston had been a state senator and his wife was the depot master, therefore, they were some very prominent folks in our little village. We made a large circle and came down the lane by where the Roberts girl used to live. She was a classmate but I don’t know what ever became of her. Then we passed by the Leo Fish place which isn’t there anymore. He was one of the janitors at our school and back in those days janitors were respected just like teachers. Then down to the main highway where we passed by the Gandy place and then back down through town.

Lots of memories and many of them very fond. Tom Wolfe’s best seller was entitled, “You Can’t Go Home Again”. That title certainly doesn’t fit my experience because I greatly enjoy my visits back to my old stomping grounds. I am thankful to be able to spend time with my mom and dad and to be reminded of all that God has provided me, even as a child, in the place He allowed me to be nurtured and developed which has had and continues to have a huge influence on who I am today. …..More later.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Paid Employment From A Biblical Perspective!

There’s nothing like opening a huge can of worms early on a Friday morning. The subject of a believer’s behavior in conjunction with the work they do or job they perform is been one that I’ve spent endless hours studying and thinking about. There’s a ton of research materials available but most of it indicates we who are Christians are not living it on the job. It seems that most believers end up adapting themselves to a dual morality approach where they apply one set of ethics in the marketplace and another in the home and church. This, sadly, comes as a result of expectations that focus solely on doing whatever it takes including the setting aside of one’s personal values in order to generate profits. When you think about it, that’s really the subtitle of how work is defined in the world.

Believe me, I have wrestled with this issue for years. No doubt even companies that portray themselves as ethical push the envelope all day long while walking a fine line in making sure they do not actually break the law. I remember working for a man for a number of years who was an outspoken Christian in his portrayal of himself. He told everyone about his faith, his work on behalf of his church, and his proud family heritage of faithfulness. However, his approach to business was essentially do anything and everything it takes in order to make the deal. His answer for this situation was that God knew that a man had to do what a man had to do. He chose not to see the huge disconnect but most people hated dealing with him because they saw the obvious hypocrisy in his talk versus his walk. In fact, I’ve worked for many other people who were more ethical in their business dealings than he was even though they had little or nothing to do with any expression of faith towards God.

I’ll just tell you that whether it’s me or you, it is a bad testimony if we are checking our identity as a believer at the door when we come to work. Many think that work came about as a result of the fall of Adam and it is part of the curse. That’s not true. Adam had a job before he fell as the caretaker over God’s creation. It involved many different responsibilities. What happened in the fall was that work would no longer be without complications, difficulties, and pain. Now you know how your job came to be complicated, difficult, and painful. See, you learn something new everyday.

Yet the Bible clearly stakes out a standard for those of us who have jobs and work for pay. It first requires that we be who we are in Christ no matter where we are. This doesn’t mean we go around our workplace thumping a Bible since that would no doubt be distracting and even a misuse of company time. It requires that our allegiance be to God first and then we are to be a faithful servant to the enterprise that pays us. This doesn’t mean we will always work with ethical people because there are plenty who operate on the world’s philosophy. However, we are to quietly do what we do as if we are doing it for the Lord. (see Colossians 3:23) If the time comes when we are called upon to break what we know is our commitment to be faithful to our calling, then we will have to deal with that circumstance and try to find a way to meet the requirement another way. We must always make certain that we are on solid grounds for being concerned about a particular issue, but in the end if we are required to violate our faith, we must make a decision, and leave the consequences in God’s hands.

That’s easier said than done and I’ve been all over the page in how I’ve handled these types of situations. In fact, I worked for seven years for the man mentioned above knowing I should have confronted him and left the company rather than be a supporter of his open maligning of the faith. Why didn’t I? I thought I had to think about my financial obligations and my family and that was my rationalization at the time. However, the truth is the truth. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills which by the way means He owns it all! He knows how to take care of His own and while it would not have been easy because we are not promised easy, I am fully persuaded He would have made a way for me if I had stood up and been counted for what I knew was right.

I can’t go back and change that now and I will tell you how wonderfully blessed I am to now be working for a man who is committed to doing his business by the Book, God’s Holy Word. This doesn’t mean he or me or our program is perfect but we try our best to look at our business dealings through the lens of fundamental truths as set forth in God’s word. I can tell you that working in this environment has been a rewarding experience for me. I leave you with one thing and that is an encouragement to not give up the struggle and throw in the towel even before you are engaged in the conflict. It will come but if you have already compromised away your beliefs, you will end up operating no differently than those who are out for themselves only, without Christ, and enslaved to the ruler of this world, Satan himself. You don’t have to be a theologian to know this is not what God would have us to do. This will give you something to think about over the weekend and on Monday I’ll try to come up with something not quite so heavy. …..More later.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Linoleum Floor Test!

In our fourth year of marriage we were able to rent a house outside of the small rural town where I grew up. One might call it a farm house or a country place but living there was quite an experience. We had access to half an acre of soil and we tried our hand at planting a vegetable garden. We did pretty well with the gardening although I had used some really tall bean poles for my running butter bean plants. My granddad warned me that when they were ready to pick I would need a step ladder to reach them.

The house was one of very simple construction. It had a long front porch with a swing and in many ways it was very peaceful and quiet. The most important thing was the fact that it was “home” to our young family. Surrounded by woods we did have to deal with the occasional varmint and I do remember having to do away with a huge water moccasin one day not far from where our two young sons played.
The house most likely had no insulation so it was hot in the summer and could be very cold in the winter. One of the features of the house was the linoleum rugs in each room. We used a box fan in the summer and space heaters in the winter. We didn’t like to leave heaters on at night so typically we would turn them off when we went to bed and I would get up very early and relight them for the coming morning. That’s where the linoleum floors came into play.
A number of things can happen in an icy cold room when you have to walk on linoleum floors and most of them are unpleasant. I remember having the same type of floor in the bedroom of my grandparent’s house where we lived for a while when I was a kid. You actually felt like your feet would stick on a cold morning as your entire body was shocked with a linoleum floor wake up call. However, in the rent house the floors were somewhat uneven and when hurrying to get the heaters lighted so you could then run back to bed, you might just hang a toe in the uneven part of the floor and have the edge of the linoleum rise up out of nowhere and attack you.
Now I know that cursing is wrong. And, I was always taught that thinking it is as bad as saying it. There have been many linoleum flooring moments that have severely tested my threshold for pain as well as the fidelity of my testimony. Talk about hurt! It was like stumping your toe only ten times worse especially on a freezing cold morning. I never have worn slippers but when I think about it now if I had them back then I sure could have saved myself some aggravation and some prayers for forgiveness over those sorry, low down, good for nothing linoleum floors. Thanks. I feel better now. By the way, some of the best times in our young lives were spent in that quaint little rent house, therefore, we thank God for His provisions including the linoleum floor tests. Just wish I had made better grades! …..More later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Goodnight Moon!

This morning as I walked out on my driveway around 4:30 a.m., I was greeted by a beautiful clear sky with a huge smiling moon. It’s not quite a full moon but within striking distance at 0.986 with less than one day until it reaches its maximum fullness. I could see the stars and the constellations looked like they do in the science book. Our first grandson will soon be eleven years old. For his first many years he spent nights with his MiMi and Poppy nearly every week. One of his favorite books, even at a very early age, was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Every night I would take him outside before bedtime so he could tell everything goodnight including the moon. When I see that big moon I am reminded of those special times.

On a brilliant crisp morning like this morning where everything is so visible up in the sky I’m also reminded of some very special nights in history. When the stars are radiating with their spectacular beaming I think about Abraham and how God told him that while he was childless at that time, he would someday be the father of children that numbered like the stars. Experts say there’s no telling how magnificent the heavens looked in Abraham’s day. This was prior to our haze of pollution that encircles the globe. They say as Abraham looked into the sky the stars would have seemed so close and clear they would have appeared to be like millions of lamps burning brightly. Abraham would not have missed the significance of this innumerable host promised as an inheritance to him by God. Of course an even greater promise was that of one of his offspring who would be a blessing to all nations. That One is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, Savior and Lord!
That makes me think of another night when shepherds were out in the fields keeping watch over their sheep. We don’t know what the weather was like and some contend it couldn’t have been December because shepherds have their sheep penned up during the winter months. However, Dr. Alfred Eddersheim made an excellent case for these shepherds being those who cared for the sheep raised specifically for Temple sacrifices, therefore, they were kept outside year round. Regardless, the Bible tells us that a remarkable event occurred on that special night when shepherds were treated to a heavenly light show with a special message.
They were stunned, they were afraid, but the message was one of singular significance since it announced the arrival of Abraham’s offspring that would bring salvation and peace to those who would embrace Him. This message announced the arrival of the Shepherd King to some ordinary shepherds who were the first to go and greet the One born as the Prince of Peace. In our hurried world where we jump in our cars and get on our way as quickly as we can, it wouldn’t hurt any of us to pause, look up in the sky, and behold the wonder of God’s creation that speaks to His existence and has been used to communicate truth from the beginning.
Perhaps you will never look at the moon and stars again without thinking about these wonderful revelations from God. If you do, it will be time well spent. As Lil Jim used to say, “Goodnight trees, goodnight stars, and goodnight moon”. ….More later.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip-a-dee-ay

Finally, a little cooler weather. I know people who live in places where it gets really cold are not that excited about seeing the temperature drop but here in the MUGGY capital of the world, we sing Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip-a-dee-ay every time they even guess at something that just might dip down into the 40’s. It’s time to open up the windows and let the houses breathe a little. I know yesterday afternoon it was near 60 degrees with the wind gusting to 25 miles per hour. I sat at my work station with the window open and the blinds clanging occasionally from the wind. Invigorating is a good word or as Charles Barkley once said when he saw a remarkable basketball play, “That had to be surreal, although I have no idea what surreal means.”

I saw one of our workers earlier yesterday as the front made its way through. He was all bundled up. He’s about 6’ 5” and weighs probably 250 pounds. We call him “Big Dave”. He looked like he was dressed to unload frozen fish or something. I couldn’t resist asking him the question my grandfather used to ask me: “You are cold already, but what are you going to do when it really turns cold?” I may wimp out soon and I can’t be sure how all these medications are going to impact my love of the cooler air but so far I’m enjoying it as a wonderful blessing. Others know how much I love the cooler air. My wife called me before she left for work yesterday morning just to tell me the front was just forty miles away. Why? She knew I was so looking forward to a breath of fresh air.

I can write about the cool because it actually happened. That’s not always the case around these parts regardless of the predicted forecast. Here’s one we hear way too often: “It was headed for us but it stalled out and somehow broke apart just before it reached our area.” What? I would rather be surprised than to hear these lame excuses. Of course Bubba thinks the predictions for cooler weather that rarely come to pass are all part of a conspiracy to sell winter stuff that currently is stacked ceiling high in most of the local stores. On top of this, they have the audacity to put things like ‘accu’ in front of their weather cast or ‘the most dependable’. Hey, being right occasionally for the forecasters around here would make that last one fairly easy to achieve!

Looking ahead for the week we actually have a lower 40’s predicted for Thursday. Maybe, maybe not. If it does most of us will be smelling that first of the season heater smell in our cars. But I’m not going to count on 42 until I’m there and enjoying it. My wife uses an electric warming blanket on her side of the bed, year round. With the temperature change that thing will be smoking tonight. She actually tells people that I put my feet over on her side of the bed to get them warm but she also says I don’t want anyone to know about it. Could you imagine such a thing? If something like that did happen there are any number of explanations that make sense. It could happen by accident or it might be something where I was only trying to get things situated for her. This is the thanks I get for trying to help her?

I guess when its all said and done it doesn’t take much to get me excited. This summer has not been all that hot but its had staying power and we’re still having 90’s and its nearly Halloween! Therefore, a person has every right to be excited when it comes time for a light jacket or sweater. We have a covered front porch on our office building where I work. On a cool, crisp morning, there’s nothing like standing out on that porch sipping a hot cup of strong coffee at 5:30 a.m. What was that word again? Invigorating! Amen and thank You Lord. ….More later.