You will have to excuse me - actually, you do not have any other option, but there are times when "things" happen and you get diverted from your main course. So it was - apparently, after the 'blog' last month (the 24th if you are keeping track), I seemed to have lost direction.
When you reach my age and find yourself wondering what might be happening - because of events in your life that don't make sense, you get a bit confused, so it was with me.
But this morning, now the 16th of October, I got piled on.... "get moving, Sherwood" appeared to be the message from many different directions.
First, there was an e-mail from an old friend of mine who I first met as a letter "to the editors" writer when I noticed one of his in Nashville's newspaper, The Tennessean. We have never met, but when either of us had a letter printed, we send an e-mail of congratulations. Most of us have to write three or more before the editors take notice. This morning, my friend, Ron, wrote a letter concerning the use of the new electronic cigarettes. Since he grew up on a farm dedicated to the production of tobacco, he was more than just familiar with the deadly power of nicotine. He makes an excellent point; electronic cigarettes are still fueled by nicotine. And since I had made a wrong assumption that he was mainly a church goer, I wrote a response offering my opinion that God was well pleased with his efforts. Then, he responded with more than a couple of lines, saying "thank you".
He literally blew me away with what we used to call - in churches, his testimony. Starting with his experience with his father's health experiences, he went on to sharing about his mother's as well and wound up specifically outlining his faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I read it more than once as the first time, tears formed in my eyes as I not only had underestimated his faith, I had more or less ignored my friend's struggles with life itself. He closed by identifying his religious affiliation and used a slang term to spell out his personal beliefs. I just sat at my computer and read it over and over again. Then, I decided to share his "confession" with all of my closest friends, including religious leaders that I know as well.
Part of the reason I have not been writing is because I have grown more and more concerned with the "life" of the church; most importantly, those with whom I have a strong relationship, and some with whom I have no relationship as well. Regarding the latter, when I first became acquainted with this area, I discovered a so-called Christian radio station here and would learn that it was part of a network located in Kentucky. What attracted me was their music - for the most part, songs that I grew up with as a youngster. And the voice of an angel who led that part of their programming. She welcomed her listeners to call in with their prayer needs and when she prayed for them, as she had promised, it was as if I saw heaven opening up to make certain her prayers were heard. I was driving up I-40 one day and realized I had a prayer need and called in to the station. She asked me a couple of questions and after I had hung up, she prayed. I was about 40 miles East of Nashville at the time, but as I turned off the freeway and headed for the office, I suddenly realized I had an answer to the problem that had troubled me for several days.
That was years ago. She is still playing beautiful music and praying and I have to believe, God is still responding to her prayers. That is half of the story. The other half is what has disturbed me. Of course, a radio station pays for its obligations by having sponsors and most of them - at this station, claim to be Christian. I have listened to most of them and what disturbs me is that my Bible refers to acts of love over fifty times and the word "Hell" (or Hades or Sheol) less than twenty. And having lived for over eighty-five years and been involved in church work for most of those, I have yet to meet a "born again" Christian - one who practices his or her faith constantly, who is not a testament to the love that brought them to the faith. To be honest, I have also heard of Hell being discussed often, but not as a motivator for the good deeds encouraged by the testaments, but as merely punishment for not doing what others told them they ought to be doing.
What I am attempting to say without naming names, as Christians, love has to be our sole motivator. Hell is merely a word and its sole motivator is fear.
And fear appears to be a main motivation for many of the talk programs - on this station, as it seems to be throughout our nation; fear that others are either doing wrong - as in waging war, or by not doing what most of us want others to do. One of the targets on the radio station in question is our government; that it is either not doing what it ought to do - in their opinion, or not doing enough for them or those they want to represent.
There is a great motivator in the Bible that I have heard since I was a youth, most preachers know it by heart and most of us ought to recognize it at the very least. It is found in the book of Proverbs, chapter four and verses, five and six. It reads as follows: "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
I don't know, I have spent most of my life suggesting there is a better way to live than to fear tomorrow. I didn't always understand that those words were in the Bible, but they had worked for me. I learned to listen to those with more experience and not follow in the footsteps of a fool. I didn't even know there was a God - for too many years. My problem was - me! If you had asked me to fear something, I would pretend I was Captain Courageous and be on my way.
But ask me to love something and I would ask, who, what, when, where, why and how?
You may deny this, but this I know above everything else I have learned in my lifetime. the greatest need that mankind has ever experienced was made evident by the fact that - "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life", the best known passage from the Bible and another fact is, we really do not live it! If we dared
to actually love one another, wars would cease and any thoughts of Hell would soon be relegated to its proper place - that is, in Hell.
Do so and fear would vanish as surely as the son rises in the East and sets in the West.