Friday, June 5, 2015

New Christian experiences

I have been meaning to write on this topic for some time now and then this morning, Faith Street came on my screen with this title, "5 most uncomfortable things new Christian experience" and I should have known.  We - Christians, new and old, tend to succumb to the opinions of those who are eager to have us be a "clone" of their thoughts and practices.  It took me nearly forty-five years to overcome such temptations to listen and then, try to apply such counsel to my own life.  I stopped on that day that our Lord actually smiled on me and welcomed me to His family.

I thought I had been a Christian for most of those years.  I was a very young boy when I started to go to church.  There were no other options.  My family - at that time, were in church every day that the doors were open.  The building was in the country and was served by a itinerant Pastor who had other flocks to feed.  The teachers did the best that they could and I learned a lot about how Jesus loved us, young and old, male and female, black and white, well not really.  Blacks were not a part of "our" family in those days, but I felt that I was a Christian based on my knowledge at that time.

Then, I attended high school in the city and would learn that Jesus had other families.  In our town, the most important segment was the Catholics, and there were also the scoffers - "You believe what..?" so it was difficult to defend my faith in Jesus.

A tour in the Air Force in Japan brought me in touch with Chaplains who appeared to know about Jesus, but mostly, they talked about His father, God, and His willingness to smite people who did go by His book.  I had never read His book.  I don't recall ever being encouraged to do so.  But I did meet the locals who explained that they were Shintos, but few cared to explain why. Finally, I met a Samurai warrior, a very important man, and he was eager for me to tell him about the experience of being a Christian.  I knew very little.  I realized then that I was merely a church attender.  But he was serious and I sat in his presence as he offered a detailed recitation of why he had become a warrior and how it was his responsibility to defend the poor and the "women" of his native land.  The friend who introduced me to this man, tried to defend his thoughts - that scared me at the time, but at least he did listen to my stories of Jesus and the children.

Back to the States, I almost hurried to tell a local Pastor about my experience, to ask him how I could be a Christian and believe like that warrior seemed to believe.  I wanted to defend my Mother and Grandmother from the bad people. whoever they might be.  As best I remember, that Pastor did not or could not relate Christianity to the story I had to share.  Along the way, I tried to discuss my feelings with others, but was always reminded to attend church and listen.  That was nice but at my age then, I attended church to meet "nice" girls.

I finally met a nice girl, we were married, had children, often attended church and now I tried to listen to what the Pastors had to say.  I met one who seemed to know a lot more abut Jesus, but when I tried to talk with him, he seemed more interested in hearing about my visit with the Samrai.  He was not much help to me, but I had finally meet a Pastor who seemed to hear whet I had to say, I was left with the impression that most Pastors were merely playing a role of a pious person on Sunday and an average guy for the rest of the week.  Of course, not many - if any, were like that, but I knew what I had experienced and such thoughts tended to guide my life and led me into the opinion that I was not far from going to Hell.  I felt very uncomfortable about going to church

I think that God knew about such thoughts all the while and knowing the end from the beginning, He knew far more about my future than I might have ever dared to believe.  Fear hovered about my life from the very beginning and He was about to change that situation.

I was headed to see a wise man about how I could improve on the life I had been leading and he lived in a distant city.  I was on a bus when I decided to open the Bible I had brought along and thought I could find the place where Jesus started His ministry.  I did, apparently, and when I read of what He was saying, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand" I realized I knew nothing about that word repent,  I asked the God I thought I knew, what did He mean, repent?  My counsel, don't ever ask God what Jesus meant unless you are prepared to hear His answer.  He made it obvious I knew nothing about that word as the life I had been living did not conform to the life he wants us to be living.  My "sins" became very apparent to me and I knew that I knew, I had to repent. To ask His blessing on what I really knew was a corrupted life, but in a moment I will cling to forever, I know that I know, He was accepting me as I was, pits and all.  My heart was pierced.  My mind was whirling.  I just knew, there and then, I was the fault of the problems I thought others had caused, but now, I had been changed.  I no longer had to be that man.

I was - and still am, determined to be the man God wants me to be.  I was going to start, believing that Jesus meant what He said with these words, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" and forty years later, it is my testimony, He has not.  I even learned the words to an old song that I recalled from my childhood days, "He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives to day, He walks with me and He talks with me along life's narrow way, He lives, He lives, salvation to impart, you ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart."

So, there it is, my experience.  Now, I want to explain why there should be no "uncomfortable" things for new Christians, nor even older Christians, to experience.

You do not ever have to be ashamed of the life of Christ and the love of God.  It is your name that is written in His book.  All you need to do is live as He lived and not fear,you might even be "crucified" along the way, you will never have to die on cross.  He has done that for you and, for me!

So now, turn the page and learn of the fascination you will be beginning to experience along the way, along His way!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Essentials of the Good Life

After dealing with the more mundane aspects of life earlier today, I find myself even more interested in sharing what what I have learned over the years.  I have discovered that most folks are not as privileged to live 85+ years as I have been.  Prompted by an article I received from an old (but younger) friend of mine, Tom Reid.   He was talking about the "good" life and to me, that starts with a purpose for living.

It took me many years to reach that point, mainly because I thought I had been abandoned early in life.  My father died before I ever got to know him and my mother had another child to care for in the truly "great" Depression years, the early 30's.  I was fortunate however to have been sent to the farm, my grandparent's farm, near Yale MI.   I often brag that I am a Yale graduate and purposely avoid telling them it was Yale High School, not the University in Connecticut.

My grandfather was the "salt of the earth" kind of man, very conservative and very deliberate in all that he did.  He was born on that farm and died there and one might say, he did the very best that he could with what he had and never asked for more than that.  His devoted wife, my grandmother was the perfect mate for him.  She was devoted to her husband and delighted in the four children they raised together.  I was special to her and partially because they had had a still born son shortly before I came to live with them.   The only real "counselor" I would have in those years was a beloved grade school teacher and another from my high school years.

I was a good student and longed to go on to college, but there were no resources for that and I so I seized the opportunity to join the Army Air Corps in order to qualify for the WWII "GI Bill of Rights".  At seventeen years and twenty seven days, I left "home" (as it was) and never returned.  So what I have learned about life came about as I was "on the road" for many years.

The military taught me two important aspects of life.   Be loyal to your employer and those who were your superiors.  It paid off as I became a Tech Sergeant (E-6) faster than most of those who entered at the same time.  I was decorated for my competency and that fact set me back for many years.  I looked for it in others and seldom found it, for many years.  It may have been because I was always eager to get "ahead" and had a difficult time dealing with my superiors and my associates as well.

I left the Air Force to enter college and was disappointed with what I discovered, mainly because it was in the South and most of my instructors and fellow students seemed to be more interested in "getting along" rather than getting ahead which had become the primary motivation in my life.  While I did graduate from college, I failed in a marriage and also, in dealing with others.

Tom's thoughts deal first with productivity, but that apparently has never appealed to me as I never really learned to be a team leader, even though I held such positions several times in my life.  I learned to be a "teacher" but was never the inspiration one ought to be to teach or lead others.  He makes a good point of creating good friends.  Today, if you knew me well, you might think that I am a "master" in that area, but it never came from my vocational training. 

They are, however, high on my recommendations to live the good life.  In fact, as a counselor in the area of employable skills, you should start making friends as early as grade school and maintain contact with all that you can, given the fact that we live in a more mobile society than existed when I was a youngster.  I look back and realize how often I failed to see the potential of my younger friends and now am amazed by their success in life.  That fact also taught me to become an encourager*, wherever and whenever you meet with others.  *(The word may not be in the dictionary, but it should be.  The world needs more people who are skilled in encouraging others)

He lists culture as an important asset and while that is true, it means that we ought to become familiar with people who are - in a word, different.  It is not always easy as many of the "others" in life are often suspicious of becoming acquainted with people who are not the same race, nationality, sexual orientation, etc.  In my generation, we were more often taught to avoid them.

I am not an expert on family life as I am not proud of the fact that I have children and sadly, grand children who know literally nothing about me.  But I have discovered that being good friends with fellow workers, neighbors. church members, and others, can more than make up for that loss

And finally, he comes to the most critical aspect of my life and learning, that is, spirituality, you know, church or similar affiliations.  It took me nearly forty five years to come to the realization that we were not created, haphazardly, as I had thought for all of those "lost" years.  Religions teach that there is a God and there are some who teach that He is a figment of our imagination.  In my life, there is and there is no disputing of the fact there is a God, a creative being.  We were created so that God could have a family here on earth and over the centuries, He has taught us that such a relationship is a matter of our love for Him and for one another.  That is the so-called, bottom line.  His love for us demands reciprocation, but not if we are not interested.  That is where religion tends to confuse the matter as each of the several religious forces on earth seem to want to disagree with the others, negating God's commands that we love one another.

I have waded through that confusion in the past forty years and have finally found a home where love really matters to one another.  Just send me an e-mail at and I will provide you with a full exclamation of all that it means to me.

It has confirmed to me that there is a priority for our pathway through life and it involves the following factors for living life as it was meant to be.  They are, in order of importance:  Love others, no matter what might held you back; be true to yourself, your elders, family and be honest with all others; reach out; seek new horizons, we live in a dynamic world where change has become the norm; have fun, enjoy yourself and personal pursuits as long as they do not interfere with the needs of your immediate family, and finally, become the encouragement that is more often avoided in the stress of every day living.

Looking closer at my day...

Well, the more I thought about my earlier "whine" - my word for complaint, it seems to get quicker response than other words, the more I realized I am the source of the answers to my problem.

And my thoughts were activated by a response I made to the people at the Gallop news organization with a headline as follows:  "Majority in U.S. Still Say Moral Values Getting Worse"

To which I replied:  "It is my most humble opinion, the "problem" with the majority is that every time they read newspapers, listen to the TV, radio, etc., etc., ad infinitum, they hear such reports being reported over and over and over again.

Do you not realize, politicians make their living by mimicking such nonsense?  Put them to the task for which they were elected and we might even resolve the problem of the debt they constantly ignore

At 85+ years of age, I could spend hours telling you and all of others of FAR MORE "trying" times that I have experienced and PROFITED by..

One of my favorite words is - reflection.  Add that to your vocabulary and you might be able to see what I see, today.  Opportunity, unlike nothing this nation has ever seen."

Do I expect a response from the folks at Gallup?  I do not.

Do I expect that average people like my readers will be motivated to pitch in and help all of the rest of us to deal with problems such as suggested by Gallup's headline?  Again, I do not.

Why not, you ask.  Well, I have heard that less than a third of those eligible to vote in our nation will vote in the next election.  Do you think for a moment that such a statistic causes any of the candidates in the race o stop and be concerned about their chances for victory?   Few have a chance to win.  They are in the race to woo the money folks who underwrite our election process, by sounding good and they could use that money to win a forthcoming election.  Please, folks, if you want to play the games, understand the rules.  Money wins, the "people's choice" will not come close to winning.

Who should win, if we still believe in the government that has brought us to the point where we are today, they will win, we will lose.  And that is, "We, the people..." the folks who were cited in the Constitution and who the our founding fathers had bet on to make our country, ..."one nation under God".

We are - in a phrase, "...asleep at the switch".  It is not the politicians fault.  They play the game by the rules that are established and they merely smile as others re-write local laws to dictate who can vote.  They get into office when we decide who gets our votes.  It is like the proverbial story of the fox and the chickens.  He knows the name of the game; it is his dinner.  The innocents merely ignore his presence and by the time it is too late, they become his dinner.''  

We can change all of that by a simple two step process.  First, register to vote and on election day, go out and vote. Need a ride?   Tell others of your need and it will be provided.

Do you remember the question posed by the Gallup folks?   They were talking about moral values.  To some, that is church talk, but representation in government is not necessarily a moral question.  It is specifically a question of civic duty, an honor not freely offered to half of the world's population.  We are where we are today because our fathers and mothers and their children before them recognized the honor it was to be an American.  Do you think that we have problems?  Of course we do, but ask yourself why there are hordes of people from other nations eagerly seeking a passport that leads to the honor of becoming a citizen of our great nation.  Ask any of those folks who have even dared to violate our laws to come here, for the opportunity they will have to earn a living for their families?  Yes, some of them do take advantage of the opportunities we provide, but who was responsible for making certain our borders were secured?   You and I do not write the laws, the people we elected to office write the laws on our behalf have asleep for decades .

We need to be at the voting booth on election day, every day that they are opened.  The administration of government - at every level, is far too complex to be left to people who are purely political.  We need to have people of integrity in every elected office and it is our responsibility to see that they are the ones who win our elections.

If we were really concerned about our future and the future of our children and the grand children to follow, we would see that laws are written so that people assuming public office are people of integrity, not just people whose loyalty is a politically inspired organization that have few if any, legitimate concerns for the average citizen

This is your responsibility.  Do not listen to the friend or neighbor to tell you how to vote.  They are part of the problem.  Groups do not vote.  People vote and we all need to go to bed at night, assured that we have done all that we can to return our nation to the point where we actually can fulfill the promises that are found in our Constitution for you, your family, your friends and neighbors and for those who no long available to vote.

We have a little under a year and a half to work on the problem before us.  We must get out and register to vote now and to be there on election day.

Then and only then will we begin to see what America means to its people and why we have so many grave stones marking the silent voices of those who cared for our future.

What to do on a lousy day

I am no expert on this subject.  I seldom have a lousy day, but today appears to be one of those.  I typically am awake at 6AM and eager to get started.  Today, I was awake at 6AM, but back in bed after taking care of nature's necessities.  Up at 8AM, turned on TV to see if the world was working well, without me.  It must be, I fell asleep in my chair and it was 10AM before I started moving about.

I examined incoming e-mails and with the exception of the regular one from my beloved, there was little or nothing of importance - at least, according to the the New York Times, Washington Post and other "authorities" that visit my computer daily.  Even my "blogger" friends seemed to be primarily concerned with themselves, so here I am, whining as well.

Not really.  I just don't feel well and that is strange.  At 85+ years and moving ahead purposefully, I seldom have days like this.  If there was a last one, I can't seem to remember it.

Perhaps, if I reminded myself - as I have, I seldom pray in the morning.  Could it be that my Father is reminding me that I ought to.  Well, I do - if I am more sensitive to the needs of others, but I suppose it is because I wake up almost every day, eager to get started with His business.  I like it this way.  I try to have no life of my own, only time invested in His life being lived through me.

I know, that sounds a bit pious, but it is true.  When my wife passed away almost two years ago now, I had no further interest in living.  For the previous seven years, I had invested my time in an effort to make her life more compelling than I had discovered it to be when we first met.  Some people I know live their lives as servants.  My thoughts of her previous life was more like being a slave, no real life of her own, but bowing to the beck and call of others and as I got to know them, it seemed to me they were merely using her.  What a shame.  She had so much to offer.  I know that for a fact.  She blessed me, constantly with her wit and expressions of love for others.

The problem was, she only had a passing acquaintance with our Lord.  She was never a "church" person.  We tried to get started after we were married, but it seemed that the churches we visited made no earnest effort to welcome us, so we started to going to "church" in our living room, listening to a Pastor on TV that we both liked and then, afterwards, opening the Bible to have a closer examination to see what He had to say about the theme of the words we had heard.  Those times were among the most sacred I have ever experienced and in her heart of hearts, I believe that she felt the same.  I miss those times.

But she has gone on and I am eagerly awaiting His call to come home.

Enough of the "buts".... I have discovered that there is a life to be lived, even at my age.  Sunday, I met a little lady, only a few months older than I am, and she is confined to wheel chair and I would learn, that she was far more "poorly" a few months ago.  It was as if it was the Lord who called on me to greet her and in doing so, I knelt down to make sure I heard her every word.  What a blessing.  It seems she is surrounded by a loving family and I almost wept as I heard of how her family was making her life so much more that others might imagine.  I have often thought that God caused wheelchairs to be invented so we could kneel down and hear better, of the life being lived by its occupant.

Just the reminder of that experience has made my day so much better.  I hasten to remind myself that I seem to have offended a dear friend of mine and that burden lingers in my mind.  The fact is, he has offended me many times in the past with his interpretation of what the Bible has to say on some of the more sensitive issues of the day.  I chose to discuss them on these pages and out of respect for his thoughts, I sent copies to him.  I never expected such a response.

I live on the premise that it is my obligation to live a life worthy of my calling as a Christian and use my experiences to draw others closer to my Lord.  I constantly attempt to remind myself that my experiences are not the same as others, but that is not to be interpreted to mean, my thoughts are no less important than those expressed by others.  We "see" life through the eyes of those we have been provided with and measure our thoughts in relation to what we have learned.  Some pay more attention to what they hear than others, that is a fact of life.

But to be a Christian, in my - as some like to say, "never to be so humble opinion", means we live to love others.  We are all entitled to our opinions, but if they are to be accepted as well, they oughtto correspond to the established facts we read in the Bible and the love that we have learned of by the life of our Lord, the principle rule being, we are to love others.

That does not mean we are to accept everything others have to say; it does mean than what we hear should be interpreted by the love that are expected to have for all of God's creation.

And of course, there are those who would remind me, that is my opinion.  I guess it will remain that way until I am corrected by the ever present, higher authority.

Anyway, I feel much better - having put my thoughts to print. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Other Side of the Wall - redux

Oh my, look at what happens when I open my mouth or pick up my "pen", to express an opinion, my opinion.  First, two phone calls from folks who are not approving the fact I walked away from one church to join another and never thought to ask if I had made the move before offering my thoughts to the first.  The fact is, I did!

But much more importantly, my dear friend not only sent me copies of opinions from two of my friends, one from a close friend - a Pastor and the other, an important figure when it comes to interpreting the  Bible.  She also included a long discourse from an unknown author who had to have spent hours assembling his facts.  None of these knew of my premise, that the questions about the subject of sex belong at home and of course, open to interpretation by outsiders.  So, I headed for my Bible to consider the Biblical themes after first noting in the Topical Guide that accompanies the Bible I use for me own guidance, I discovered it does not have a section on sex, per se, but sections discussing seducers, seduction and sexual immorality.

I suspect that this fact is as important as all of the assembled material I have laying on my desk.  Sex is and asought to be, a personal matter.  We could spend hours discussing what the Bible says and does not say, but I still believe my premise is much more informative than all of the other material I read before starting this response.  The basic thought - perversion has now revealed a new side to the endless conversations about the lives of the those society have described as transgenders.  In my opinion, we will be "learning" much more than God ever meant us to know and those who are ignorant of the will of God for His creation, will become even more confused than they already are.

Yes, confused.  Let's be honest with one another, what most of us understand about what the Bible actually says - and what it does not say, comes from the opinions of others like my friends and since the others will probably never study the Bible for themselves, confusion will continue to reign.  I love the Bible, I try to live by the Bible as the knowledge to be contained therein has been far greater than what I have learned from other so-called "practical"sources in my 85+ years.  

I am also a father and I can look into the lives of my own children and discover how inadequate I was in their formative years.  Then, I examine the lives of parents I meet coming in and out of church and other gatherings and see what diligence they demonstrate in carrying out their Godly responsibilities is creating in the lives of their offspring.  It confirms my suspicions, the first step in defining the sexual proclivities of the child starts in his or her relationship with the parent or hopefully, the parents.

We can talk Bible until we have exhausted all of our energies and it avails nothing, if those who hear are not tuned to the same wave length or not listening at all and then, not caring out the responsibility of live by what they have actually learned.  Children are always eager to learn - from someone about something, and do not necessarily learn from what we have to say, but how it is we live in the midst of our daily responsibilities. That is my premise.  And whereas most of what I have observed over the years about sexual behavior indicates that most of us get involved in sex as naiveties (persons with naive approach to life).  Excuse me, I think I have just coined a word.

In my youth, we were all naive.  Now, most of our offspring are misinformed.

The basis of our understanding helps if we understand the Bible, but a couple of facts - not disclosed in the Bible, are well known.  That is, our brains are hot wired to our DNA.  That is, we differ from one another.  That creates the premise that we learn from one another and the first test of our knowledge starts with the fact that children need to be fed and thus, their first school masters are their mothers.  Then, the comedians might say, they need to be changed and thus, their second school master is the father.  Take either out of the equation (2 + 1 = family) and trouble rears its ugly head. 

Well, we know that half of our marriages fail, so is it any wonder that our children our raised in a vacuum.  Having grandparents help, but seldom are they in the home and thus many of our children grow up, "street" smart or totally ignorant of the human agenda that God meant in the beginning.

The church's emphasis on getting adults "saved" ignores the fact that religion has created classrooms filled with children who are in the perfect place to teach - right from wrong.  They do not have to teach about sex, they do need to teach about the rewards or perils of living a chaste life.

In my interest in learning more abut homosexuality, I have often visited what some term the "gay" church - as if they are teaching how to become "gay" or extending the "gay" reach.  What a shame.  I used to cringe when I heard the inevitable whispers that we had "those" people in our church, so it is no wonder "they" left "us" for a God that forbids an exercise of the desires.

Please don't tell me otherwise.  Read Leviticus 18:6.  My Bible states:  "You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female, it is an abomination."

And so, people do what is an abomination to God.  You cannot revoke this commandment.

Deal with it.  Some among us are "wired" that way.  Remember, the DNA.  Can I explain it?  No, I cannot.

What we can do is invite them into our churches, love them and do the best we can to serve along side of them.  By and large, they are nice people.  Like all of us, they have needs and some of them may be foreign to others, but we are not called to necessarily understand.  We are on the other hand, called by God to love them as members of His creation.

Also, rebuke the temptation to call them names that come out of the darkness found in some old man's souls.  Stop referring to them as deficient in ways you do not understand.  Jesus expressed the "bottom line" in living in this 21st century.  In the gospel of John (17:20-21)  "I do not ask in behalf f these alone (His disciples), but for those who believe in me through their word that they all might be one even as Thou, Father, are in Me, and I in Thee, that they might be in Us, that the world may believe that Thou did's send Me." 

To me, that is the "bottom line" in this discussion.  God's word says it is their word.  Stop dragging out the older testaments writings as they were trying to create a society in which people loved one another.  Yes, it may have taken strange turns to us, five thousand years later, but I had a grandfather who told me that the Star car would outlast the Fords and the Chevrolets most of our neighbors drove. He didn't buy one.  Good thing.  They went out of business a couple of years after the expression of my grandfather's wisdom.

My point remains.  The "world" as we know it - today, is being over run with perversions and the troubles that perversion creates.  But rather than rave and rant, or stay tuned to the channels that promote them, let;s go back to the basics.

God is our Father in heaven, the Creator of all that has taken shape and He loves us.  Spread the word, go tell it on the mountains, over the hills and everywhere.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Other Side of the Wall

While most of us would prefer not to discuss the matter, I have been wrestling with it for several years.  You may not want to read on and that is your choice of course.  But I am here to suggest that sooner or later, the matter will matter - to you or others that are near and dear to you.

I was "encouraged" to pen my thoughts when an article appeared on my computer this morning.  The title informed its readers that -"Yes, transgender really is the New Black in Hollywood."  The author's name is Jennifer LeClaire and she is writing for Charisma News.

The headline provides the name of Laverne Cox who has been described as "the first breakthrough transgender star in Hollywood."  A year ago, she was on the cover of TIME magazine.  Those who make their living "in Hollywood" appear are ready and willing to promote this tragedy throughout the nation.

You probably already know that Bruce Jenner, the high acclaimed athlete from the Olympics is ready to convert himself to the woman, he claims to have hidden away for years.  ABC Family has a new program ready for broadcast entitled Becoming Us, the story of a boy "working" through his father's transition from male to female.  TLC has another such program in the works.

LeClaire goes on to suggest, "this is not just an issue in Hollywood, the agenda is creeping into other aspects of society."

I will never forget my introduction into such so-called "hidden" issues of life.  AS a Personnel Supervisor in the USAF, three senior Non-coms on our base came to me asking if I could keep a secret and revealed to me that they were practicing homosexuals.  They feared that if a certain officer whose office was next to mine in our headquarters, heard that they were, he could press charges and they would be immediately discharged and lose the benefits they had earned by their years of service. They had learned that the Colonel and I appeared to be friends and all they wanted was a "heads up" if he prepared to press charges.  That never happened, but the Sergeants and I became good friends and I never became aware of their deviant behavior.  What happened after they closed their doors was their affair and meant nothing to me.

Years later, I was a volunteer in the church I attended and was asked to attend a "confidential" meeting.  It concerned an assistant Pastor who had just married the daughter of important members. The bride came home from the honeymoon early claiming her husband was "gay".  What to do?  What to do?  The best we could recommend was endorse the Senior Pastor's recommendation to fire the man. I was the only minority voice in the decision.  So, they did.  A few month's later, the young man came to my office looking for a job.  We had an honest conversation about the other incident and I learned that he was not gay, but not as well "endowed" as the bride thought he might be.  Her frustration made matters worse.  I found him a job with a religious printing house and eventually was invited to dinner with his new bride and it was apparent to me, any problems in that area had been resolved.

That prompted me to research the question of homosexuality and discovered there were far more areas of confusion than I had ever imagined.  It gave me a sense of compassion for the others who had problems like my young friend.  The one advantage of being in the military is the fact we showered together and could talk about sexual topics without "beating around the bush" as some suggest.  And as the years passed, the general public became far more aware of similar topics.

Of course, the "Aids" problems arose and as a Christian, I became acquainted with many of those who had been infected.  In fact, a former employer was infected and would die and my "research" into the question of homosexuality became a matter of my belief system.  It was easy to recognize the facts that religion had begun to play an important tole in the debates.  I have heard more debates on the subject than I even care to discuss.

My conclusion is that those who profess to being "gay" are typically, those who fear the label of being a homosexual.  No one cares to be known by a derogatory title. The Bible does not send a mixed message.  The act is wrong.  The actor is loved by God - as are all others.

Not unlike the child who is reared in a household where poverty is not a word to be discussed, but a fact of life, and as he - or she, can see what the parent does to provide, is it any wonder that they visit the sins of those who came before them?   And if the parent is perceived to be inadequate to the task of feeding them, for example, is it any wonder that they follow in the footsteps of those who do provide.  I have - in my lifetime, interviewed probably hundreds of them and often became friends of youngsters who followed that pattern I just set forth.  All the while, they have been raised in a society where even the rich and powerful have a need to have a gun to protect themselves, their families and their property,  We really should begin to understand that such logic enables the poor and disenfranchised to make a similar claim - only, of course, once they use it for their need to provide, it is that much easier to extend it to provide their "wants" as well.

I did not digress, I was merely setting the stage for the logic to follow.  Do you deny that we live in a sex-crazed society?  Hopefully, you recognize that fact.  Now, lets go back to the home, any home and consider the youngsters and their parents.  I grew up in the 30's and you need to believe that - with few if any exceptions, we knew nothing about sex.  But as we grew up and attended high school, we began to hear more about it, but learn about it, no way.  There were no objective teachers.  I had heard about it, but my learning came in the midst of 1,700 other teenagers, all wearing a uniform and headed for overseas duty.  We had our first objective lesson when we reached our assignment and noticed a hole in the fence and a path leading to a nearby brothel.   We also had our first practical lesson on sex when the offers and senior non-coms had a "drop your pants and standby" drill.  (If you don't know what I mean, you don't need to know.)

That was then, this is now and we are reaping where we failed to sow decades ago.  Sin not a pleasure game where one gets satisfied and the other goes home.  Sexual relations were not designed to be a sporting event, but the most important spiritual lesson of all.  Babies were meant to be the result, but humans being humans, long ago discovered that the act did not need to be spiritual, it could be pleasurable as well.  And there it is in a nutshell.  

Enter perversion, if pleasure is the reasonable excuse for sex, what does it matter where we find a partner?  And the participants made homosexuality, the perfect alternative.

But that is a sin!  And so, since God is opposed to sinful behavior, the righteous among us began waging war on the sins of those others.  Never mind the obvious sins of the righteous.  Some called a halt to such a war and Satan and his legions have won victories upon victories by merely suggesting there is a hierarchy of sin.

Now, does anyone really wonder that evil would eventually discover the transgenders among us. There are, in fact, people who came into this world with sexual organs that do not conform to what we might suggest are normal.  It happens.  There are also many medical experts who have a solution, but again, if you happen to have it happen to you, pray that you were not born into poverty.

Now should we wonder that they are the Bruce Jenners who would have us believe, we are all born with a degree of abnormality, especially if you can make money displaying your own particular degree of abnormality.  Let's face facts, deviants tend to enjoy their deviancy.

All of which ignore the basic premise of the scriptures.  We are created beings, all of us, and among us are others who were not as fortunate as we have discovered ourselves to be.  What do we do for the poor and impoverished?  The very same as we should be doing for those who are not as privileged as we find ourselves to be in all areas of our lives.  Compassion is an act highly commended by God.

For certain, we must not allow ourselves to be intrigued by such matters, but wherever possible do what we can to portray the compassionate others whose first order of the day is to love one another as we have been loved.

Oh, you thought I might talk about same-sex marriage.  If you can find it in the Bible I am here to talk about it.  Otherwise, take your complaints to the politicians who showered the "legally" married folks with benefits not available to the rest of us.  Can you see the real problem?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What Does America Stand For?

That is the title of an article in the current edition of TIME magazine (June 1, 2015) and since I am a veteran of the United States Air Force (1946-53) including service in the Korean War, I am interested in what America does stand for today as I vividly recall what it stood for when I was a youngster.  I had hoped that the article might be a rebuttal to the suggestions floating around in Christian circles that our days are doomed.  I have never seen the likes of it.  At first, I thought what I was hearing came from the local churches as I know that many of them are upset with the thought that same-sex marriages are going to be made legal throughout the United States - as they have been in many States.

For awhile, it seemed to be the economy that was threatening us because of the un-employment figures, due to the recession that overwhelmed us in the wake of our futile wars in the Middle East. Then, slowly but surely those rates began to lessen as our economy picked up steam, but the fears and the fear mongers began to expand.  I scan the more popular Christian magazines and daily, it seems, the prophets of gloom and doom are the primary headline figures.

And of course, our President's "glamour" began to fade as those who obviously were not thrilled with the thought that a black man's hands were on the "ship of State".  I will readily admit, I probably am biased in favor of blacks, in general, as I had the experience of promoting their qualifications for employment at a time when many of the other agencies were "coding" their job applications.  Earlier, I was attending college in Georgia when the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was ruled on by the Supreme Court and was appalled by the reaction of many of my friends and most of my neighbors.

Things are different these days.  Slavery is no longer an issue.  We are not appalled by the sight of a black man holding hands with a white woman.  Mixed race children are everywhere apparent in our public schools.  We have come through the tough times.  Our military power is the pride on our nation and a definite threat to any other nation with thoughts of interfering with our right of passage on the high seas.  We have reason to be proud of our accomplishments as a people and as a nation.

But of course, we do have our problems.  My thought is that the "good" times have spoiled us.  Our Constitution is still our basis for law and it was constituted on the belief that it represented all of our citizens, with one caveat.  "We, the people..." have a definite responsibility.  We are supposed to vote for our Representatives in government at the local, State and Federal levels.  We are failing to take "care of our business".   It is MY business and it is YOURS!

So now that I have made my position clear, let me turn to the TIME article.

The writer - Joel Kline, and his subject is a new book, titled, Three Choices for America's Role in the World.  The author - President of the Eurasia Group, a political risk constituency. I had an impression that he wanted us to do less than we have been doing.   Kline opened his essay with a round about slap at the pending election cycle - 2016.  He wastes away the first page with his thoughts about the candidates, only one of whom will be nominated for President.  The thoughts that are expressed therein have little or nothing to do with the need for our nation to pay more attention to the circumstances at hand.  Listen to those candidates and you will hear that our challenges seem to be insurmountable.  That is utter nonsense, I was born in 1929, sixty days before the Stock Market crash.  Can you imagine what might happen tomorrow if the same thing happened? We still have problems with employment; but do they begin to compare with the tens of thousands who were thrown of their jobs in the truly Great Depression and wound up standing in the bitter cold, hoping, praying for a cup of gruel that was all that most cities had to offer?

The book gets down to business by declaring a possible goal - an independent America, freed of the thought that we must fix the world.  Stay tuned.   It makes a point that I wholehearted agree with. 

"We have no right to force those who disagree with us to see things our way."

The company was involved with a survey of 1,000 Americans about their foreign policy preferences and tabulated the results into three areas; those who chose the idea of an Indispensable America, the world needs our leadership (28%;) a Moneyball America, we can't do everything but we must defend our interests when they are threatened (36%); and the Independent America, we must rid ourselves of international burdens and focus on improving our country from within (36%).

What does America stand for?  From the results of the survey, it should tell us we are divided almost equally among the three options.  That ought to stimulate the candidates into meaningful debates, ridding them themselves of the "one up-man-ship" strategies of the past.  It is time to think seriously about our future without the time consuming tasks that amount to nothing more than the proverbial "blame games" of the past.

And perhaps, hopefully, it will inspire our people to get involved in the process, to register to vote and then, to actually vote.  In my Commercial class in high school - long ago, we were asked to type the following as an exercise to increase our skills - "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."  It still applies, only now women are asked to participate.  So I have to ask of all who read this, do you understand that "now" really means - right now?

Searching for gold

Since entering the "world" of blogging, I have had the good fortunate of meeting many other bloggers who really have something to say, aside from having something to sell, and it appears that relationships might be in the offing from the long lists I have accumulated.

It reminds me of experiences a friend of mine and I used to enjoy, heading out to parts of North Georgia where the current craze in those days was - panning for gold.  You probably know the rest of the story, after many such trips, we never did find gold.  But that eventually would not be our goal.  If you have never visited North Georgia in the foothills of the Great Smokey mountains, you need to make plans. The scenery is every bit as breath taking as many of the more heavily touted places in other parts of our great nation and I would highly recommend considering it for your next vacation.

But like the old adage - "take time to smell the roses", as we discovered that getting to know the folks in that area, at the gold mines, the restaurants, the lodging, etc.,we were meeting up with were the greatest treasures to be uncovered in "them thar hills' as it was those people who would become the source of our most treasured memories.

And so it is, with everyday life, if we would only just take notice.

Proof of the pudding, in my case, comes with a lady known by her real name, Rebekah.  Remember the name from the old Testament?  Wife of Isaac, mother of  Esau and Jacob.  Memorable stories. "My" Rebekah appears to be cut from the same cloth, a treasured jewel.

She visited me today by way of her blog, Sharing Redemption Stories, preparing her readers to "bounce", before you can bounce back.  Real wisdom, authentic applications.

How true that has been in my life.  I tried and tried to "bounce back" from the various trials and tribulations I had created in my earlier years.  I could not grasp the suggestions being offered by friends and counselors.   She offered the perfect answer.  In the problem areas of our every day lives, you need to grasp the gift of preparation.  Every opportunity, every problem, has a source and if you miss the need to properly prepare yourself, you are liable to stumble and fall.

Rebekah continues her essay, her contribution to successful living, by reminding us of the many other characters we find in the scriptures.  We often fail by convincing ourselves that their experiences took place - then, years, even centuries ago.  That is akin to ignoring the first step in a long walk.  If we stay where we are, we are not going to get where we want to go.  You cannot get on an airplane flight without first, purchasing a ticket.

Her summary, God provides!  Or, of course, He might not provide when He realizes, you are not headed for the success you might believe is inevitable.

Trust in the Lord and along the way, examine the lives of those who have helped you to get where you are today.  Lone rangers may have provided the material for successful TV programming, but in the here and now, we need one another.  It starts in the family.  God commands us to honor our parents and somehow, I missed that lesson.  He also commends us to honor those who help us along the way.  I finally realized how much my very first school teacher, Myna Mosher Armstrong, helped me to understand life from the standpoint of her own success and dealing with the problems she experienced along the way.  For years, she was an "old maid" and when she married a wonderful man, the neighbors were in a word, scornful.  Full of scorn, contempt.  Because she rose above the taunts of others, she was successful.  I know, she changed my life.

I did not get off on a profitable start in my military life.  I made a joke of my qualifications; what was a boy just off the farm supposed to say?   Then, opportunity was born because of the racial attitude of an officer who should have known better.  In stepped Master Sergeant Max McGee with a simple question - "Do you know the alphabet?"  Mrs. Armstrong had made certain that I did.  An opportunity was provided for me and a couple of years later when McGee moved on, he had prepared me to take his place and positioned me for a successful Air Force career.

Years later, I was in a drive-in theater with my girl friend and saw a familiar face (Howard Keel) show up on the screen with a song that still resonates in my heart.  "I will never walk alone,,," and that melody and most of the words still echo in my life.  I soon forgot the girl friend, but I will never forget that scene and the words that penetrated my heart of hearts. 

People, ordinary people, as ordinary as the Rebekah of old, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, each involved in life as it was, not necessarily what they might have wanted it to be, or become, but God took notice and made certain, their names would be inscribed for the ages.

"I don't want to set the world n fire,,," My uncle heard me singing one night, years and many years ago and out of the dark, where I would discover he .was sitting, he responded, "Don't worry, Sherwood, you never will."  He would never learn how he had penetrated my soul.  All I ever wanted to do is "start a flame in her heart" - my girl friend in those days.  I started out believing that my uncle - who actually loved me, who would never do anything to intentionally hurt me, had stunned me.

Then, came that day of all days, the one in which I heard these words, "By this will all men know that you have become My disciples, by your love for others,"   And I hurried to forgive my uncle and the others who had hurt me in the days before that great day.  It was one of those "180 degree" days, when you stop heading in one direction and turn conpletely around.

My prayer is simple, that you might find a Rebekah or others, cut from the same cloth, even today!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thoughts on a Tuesday morning

Yes, it's Tuesday morning, the day after Memorial Day and I have been searching my "IN" box for something interesting to talk about.  I have two goals.  One, to write.  If I am going to be known as a writer, I need to write, every day.  Two, I need to make this day memorable for another person.

Hang on, my target may be you - especially if you are - as they like to say, getting older.

I don't know who the "they" is, but in my case, they are missing the mark.

I am not getting older, I am progressively moving towards a new destination.  The fact is, I have yet to arrive, anywhere.  I often wonder about my past life.  Born in Detroit, MI.  Grew up near Yale, MI. I am a Yale graduate, high school, that is.  Joined the Army Air Corps.  Sent to Japan and was there for a few months more than four years.  Came "home" to discover, home was not where my heart was.  Decided to settle down and go to college.  Left the Air Force.  Enrolled at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA.  Got married.  Switched to what would become Georgia State University and graduated. Left Georgia for California and was divorced.  Wandered around and lost a couple of years.  Got married again.  We had four children and I left California.  Didn't mean to.  It just happened.  Was divorced again.  Was "born again" and made church, my primary interest.  Moved to Dallas, Tx, big mistake.  "Wandered" for over two and a half years and wound up in Orlando, FL  Got married again,.church continued to be my primary interest.  Wife passed away.  I moved to Tennessee and discovered my sister and mother who I had not seen in over twenty-five years, had moved there also. Mother passed away.  Moved in with my sister and then, she moved away.  I got married again. Moved to Cookeville, TN.  Wife passed away and here I am, today.

Came across this bit of "wisdom" earlier this morning; "Seek adventure, every day.  Search for adventure every day.  Look for opportunities you may have missed.  Embrace your faith."  Whoever wrote that knew more about me, better than anyone I have ever known 

Another bit of "wisdom" discovered on this Tuesday morning.  "Embrace your faith.  It is more than merely attending church.  On the street where you live, there are folks who need to know they are loved.  Don't hesitate.  Speak up, say "Hello.'"  Note the emphasis, enjoy the process.  This has become my primary goal in life.

And another... "Smile - a lot.  Yes I know, about the aches and pains that come along with aging.  You might be amazed to realize how quickly they pass away when we make an effort to offer encouragement to others." 

I don't know who penned those words, but they have discovered thoughts about me that I never fully realized until today.

There is something else.  Yes, I still attend church, but more importantly than any of the others,  I am the church.  Yes, I am.  I like the feeling of being in church, sharing life with fellow believers, always learning something new about my faith and about others, but as importantly, about myself.  I am not talking about ego, but the fact is, in spite of all of my learning over the years, I have a responsibility to know more about others as I am being led by my Leader.  I trust you know Him.  He loves me and I know above all, He loves you.

You see, I am too busy to think about "growing" old.  Yes, I am aging and right now, being 85 years of age is a comforting fact.  I expect to be 100 in a few years and I may be, but it is not up to me.  Eat well, exercise, read a lot, love others, do all of those things that the experts advise, but I know that I know that on that day when this all ends, I will be going home, my goal for all of these years.

Monday, May 25, 2015

More.... Memorial Day, 2015

I just had a call from a long time friend who really questioned my move.

Seems like he had forgotten my thoughts over the years.  When I believed that God had touched my life on May 13, 1975, I vowed, I would never turn back.  That was a solemn oath to me then and it remains today.  Those earlier years had stolen my identity - in my opinion, although, my failures were my fault.  I needed a new life and He made it possible. 

As some know, I spent almost two and a half years literally "on the road" where my only motivation was to seek God wherever He might be found and whenever possible, to talk about His wondrous works.  As I was to discover, moving about in mostly Southern states, almost everyone I had a chance to seriously talk about God, seemed to believe, all that was necessary was to go to an altar, make an attempt to confess all of their sins, and they were "saved" - I used to ask, saved?  - from what?, for what reason?  I met a few who had an explanation, but by and large, no one seemed to have a clue.

I would remind them of my motivation - that God had assured me that He would provide the "power" for me to become His witness, whenever, wherever I might be.  (see Acts 1:8)  My conclusion was that I had been saved to remind others of His desires.  They are mentioned everywhere in Bible and we are to be blessed by merely being His witness.  It is not meant to be more of anything except His love and His attention to our lives.  So it has been that I can say, I have been blessed over and over again during the past forty years.

My conclusion is that we are not "saved" to keep us from going to Hell.  He becomes a part of our lives - by way of our confession, merely to do good, by being good.  All we have to do is look around at our friends and neighbors, the people we meet as we move about.  The needs are so great.

Especially in these times.  I scan a number of "Christian" magazines and messages and more and more, I read of the "prophesies" of "gloom and doom" in the coming years, creating fears that the churches that proclaim the glories of the Lord and the attempts of our Lord Jesus Christ to define His message when He walked among the people in His day, are wrong.  Somehow, something else, has the power to overcome the Word of God and the world that He created. What a shame!  Where are the people of God with the courage to stand up and remind these "nay-sayers" that God is still God and if we truly want to continue to claim the name of His Son as our Savior, we need to remind them of the absurdity of such claims.

Sadly, these voices of doom and gloom are using their words, but offering no proof, that some people are seeking to overcome this nation that has been since its founding, dedicated to the purposes for which we have stood for almost 240 years.  To their shame, they name names and use our ignorance of the strength of our government to lure us into believing our neighbors are part of the reasons we have to fear the future.  Listening = means we are closing our ears and minds to the promises of God that continue to be coming forth from the truly dedicated churches through out land. 

I did not leave "other" churches to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints to shelter myself from the fears that are everywhere to be heard, but to join the "body of Christ" that does not busy themselves with fears about our futures.  The Bible which we believe and the Book of Mormom are very clear, not only about the future, but also about our past which appears to have been sorely neglected over the years.

I did change my "spiritual" address because I saw in those young Missionaries who appeared at my door months ago, a hope for our future here on earth and a promise of the "worlds" that are beyond. These young people are not limited to efforts merely in our nation, but others as well, throughout the world.  Working together with the blessing of their parents and the "body of Christ" at large, they are doing what the church was called to do, from the very beginning.  They are not the only ones, of course, as many churches are dedicated to the same purposes, but sadly, they are limited by the lack of vision that has been part of the Mormon mission from the very beginning. 

I know my years are limited and that my resources are limited, but I will leave this world confidant that when there was a real opportunity, I had the courage to stand up and proudly represent an answer to the fears of those who need to know about our Lord and His love for all of us.

Add on... Memorial Day, 2015

So now, here we go....

My "new" life - in church, was progressing well.  I was out of my funk and my only concern was finding a job to help me with the fact that my Social Security is hardly enough to maintain what I describe as minimal living.  I wrecked my car a few weeks ago - first accident in some 80 plus years, so that doesn't help finding employment.  Nor does my age.  Applications are ignored, except for one fellow with the courage to tell me, all of their employees are on their insurance plan (that does provide for people of my age) and did not want to listen to my suggestion, that all they had to do is use me through a temporary staffing agency.  That did not work.  Strange!  All the years I spent in the employment business, making it easy for employers to locate and hire employees, seems to have evaporated in the latest maze of techniques. 

Life moves on... I was content living in my apartment away from others, except for one fellow who lives below me.  And then, one evening I heard a knock on my door.  A visitor?  Who could be knocking on my door?  I opened the door to find two beautiful young women standing there and I had to think, religious "crazies" - I'll get rid of them quickly.  No such luck.  I was abut discover they were Morman missionaries with a story to relate and since I was a Christian, I had no interest,  They assured me that they were Christians as well  and continued with their testimony.  I found that to be interesting and invited them in, but they quickly informed me that they could not as they were not allowed without an escort.  Well, that impressed me.  They scheduled a meeting for the next week and, on time, showed up with their escorts.

They had a plan and I was ready to shoot holes through that plan.  As pretty as they were, I was still not interested, but they seemed to be, very interested.  Another visit, new escorts, and the debates continued.  They had anticipated almost all of my questions or more accurately, my rebukes.  After that meeting, I decided to bring my "counsel" into the discussions to follow.  I began praying and studying.  I was about to discover, they were as interested in my Bible as they were to be in their Book of Morman and so, I decided to examine that as well as my own sources.  They were beginning to make sense to me.  They were talking about a "restored" religion, the events in my Bible up-dated, so to speak  Then I began to ask myself, questions I has asked of others in years past - with no legitimate answers.  

I vividly recall a study years ago when I asked a leader to explain for the years after Malachi ends and the new Testament begins.  "God rested" was the most informative answer.  Belief that God rested - for 400 years, was beyond my comprehension.  The beginning in the Book of Morman was making more and more sense to me.  I had no other real questions.  I found that my adoration of my Savior, Jesus Christ, was as great as I had ever heard expressed elsewhere.

I was invited to attend their church and discovered there was no - preaching.  But there was teaching, three hours, divided into segments applicable to various degrees of membership.  That made sense. And I must admit, I had no sooner taken my seat in the pews, when a young lady in the pew ahead of me turned and - in my mind, almost shouted, "Oh!  you're Sherwood!"  I was about to learn that I was almost a phenomenon to some of young Missionaries.

But I still had questions and when I heard them inform me that the first step in joining them was to be baptized, I was quick to inform them I had already been baptized; they as were quick to ask, baptized for what reason?   I couldn't answer them as the church I had used to be long to baptized children, long before the age of accountability.  My so-called baptism was nothing more than a few sprinkles of water after my parents had agreed to raise me as a Christian.  I had never considered that before, nor did the Missionaries suggest it.

I had to set a date for my baptism by immersion and had no idea, so I mentioned that in my prayers. On the evening of their next appointment, I was in the kitchen doing something and I heard the words, "December 5" come to mind.  December 5.  I almost started shaking.  No one else, but a couple of officers examining an episode in my life - in Korea, decades ago, could possibly understand what that date meant to me.  It had to be God!

And so, on December 5, 2014 I was baptized into the Morman faith and my life took on new meaning.  I had not discussed it with anyone, but the basis for my believing was the inspiration I felt that I could see in the lives of those Missionaries.  The two who had first introduced me had moved on, replaced to two more. as attractive, and just as well informed.  Since then, I have come know many others and young men as well and I remai impressed, not only with their knowledge of the faith they have integrated into their lives, their care for others is inspirational and their diligence in doing what they are called to do has to blessed by the Lord they serve.

Then, as icing on the cake, this Ward of the church - the name for their local gathering places, asked me to become the ward Missionary, in essence working with the Missionaries to support their work

I had become a Morman, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

Memorial Day - 2015

Well now, my problems with my computer seem to have been addressed and I am ready to continue. It is a problem with those of us who never had instructions in the first place and have no children at home to keep us abreast of the changes that seem to be happening constantly, while we remain asleep at the switch.

I have nothing in mind to say, except that it might be time to tell you of the events in my life over the past few months.  Had no idea that a change was due, but it happened - "in spades" as I used to say.

Starting where it all started, living with my grandparents, church was never an option.  I was "in church" for virtually all of my first seventeen years.  Not that I learned anything other that a few of he old songs and... well yes, I did enjoy reciting, standing in front of the church and reciting the monologues that seemed to go well with the congregation.  At 85+ years of age, I still do although the monologues have long since passed away, to be replaced by heart felt testimonies.

When I joined the Air Force - technically Army Air Corps in those days, I continued the "habit" on Sundays more often than not.  Not that I can recall any certain spiritual experiences.  When I returned to the States, after four years in the Far East, I would learn that wearing a uniform to civilian churches was a certain "chick magnet" and it beat hanging out in bars, competing with the much better paid civilians.

Leaving the Air Force to enter college, I soon discovered that the Georgia Tech student body seemed to spend their Sunday mornings at the First Methodist church in downtown Atlanta and I joined in.  I discovered a love for Church music from the Sunday evening; I even remember Harry Armstrong as the leader of the song sessions.  I remember the name of the Pastor as well, but I really do not care to mention it as I still recall listening to his counsel in personal conversations I had with him.  It was. however, an important past of my past as I wound up married to my first wife who I had met in a adult Sunday School class.  We tried to stay connected, but as time wore on, my interest waned and eventually, we had stopped attending church and then, there was the separation, leading to a divorce.

Leaving Georgia and  heading for California, I almost forgot about God and church.  I got much more involved in the bar scene and was - more often than not, too "hung over" to get up and go to church.

Noticing, however, that my new life style was leading nowhere, I decided I might be better off if I started back to church and - I discovered another wife.  This time I was more serious about church and I began to listen more often to the sermons and the lives of our friends.  Based on my own standards, I thought I was doing well.  I knew as much about the Bible as my friends, but the fact was I could not seem to get involved in reading it, much less studying it.  And the more I was convinced that I was finally getting "ahead" in life, the further I moved away from God and involvement with church.  When my life seemed to swirling into yet another marital crisis, I tried to enlist the wisdom of friends and the Elders in the church I was attending and got lost in what seemed - to me, their convoluted logic.  Then, I began to realize how terribly lost I was and seriously sought help.

Those of you who know me better, know that I would experience a dramatic encounter with God on my journey to find help with my life.  I left my "old" life behind and started in on a truly new life that would erase most of the old thoughts on what life should mean to His creation.  I was amazed by the fact I suddenly seemed to have an interest in the Bible and spent hours, not just reading it, but studying it as well.  I was living in the YMCA across the street from the public library and I found an interest in a study of religion as it agreed with everyday living, but always, challenging us to draw closer to God so as to "improve" our lives.  It began to take hold in my own.

I paid much more attention to the sermons I was hearing - three times a week, and how they were affecting my life and the lives of my new friends.  I found a real disparity.  I thought perhaps God was leading me to serve Him as an ordained Pastor or other "official" functions in the church.  And then I realized the Church was not at all interested in people who had been divorced as I had been, twice.  It made me wonder, but the fact is, such attitudes merely strengthened my resolve to continue walking with the God I knew had, as a matter of fact, rescued me from the pits I had dug in the preceding years.

Such revelation was almost forty years ago.  In the meantime, I concentrated on what I was continuing to learn from the Bible and from the events of the day and what a fascinating experience it has been.  Eventually, moving to Tennessee, I experienced a series of miracles in my life.  When I arrived in Nashville, on the very first day, I found a "job" in the local Rescue Mission - a job I had been seeking - in vain, in Orlando where I had lived for the previous several years.  A month later, I received a phone call from my (only) sister, telling me that she was in the area and would like to see me for a visit.  We had not even talked in some twenty-five years.  She knew where I was because of the faithfulness of an uncle.  Then, I realized she and our mother had also moved to the Nashville area within days of my arrival.  We would restore our relationship that continues to this hour, one that had hardly existed the years before our renewal.  Eventually, after our mother had passed away, we would live together until she moved back to California, but we are still in constant contact with one 

I found another wife and moved to Cookeville, TN, where we lived in love for almost seven years until she suddenly passed away and I was left - alone, in a city I hardly knew.

But as if to prove His power in the life of an individual, He began a move that still thrills me to this very hour.  First, He "connected" me with a Pastor friend I hardly knew and introduced me to another friend who has since that day, played an extremely important part of my life.  The Pastor would introduce me to a church that I claim to this day, "loved me back to life" from the funk that seemed to overwhelm me after my wife's passing.

And then, an even greater manifestation of the His miracle working powers would occur, to be the subject of the blog to follow.  Stay tuned

Friday, May 22, 2015

International Happiness Day is a good day, to.....

I spent a lot of my yesterday wondering what to say today and unfortunately, just realized I should have spent some time observing the giant goof I made in not taking a second look at my previous title.  See, I can spell International, I already have, twice today.  So let's see what I learned yesterday.

I get inputs into my life - and a lot of pure junk, from my faithful computer.  I have gone out of my way to make friends with people who obviously love to write as I do and they are a daily blessing to me, but this morning I got more than I was prepared to receive.  Typical of my life these days.  So after reading the article that was forwarded by the good folks at Entrepreneur magazine, I decided this was a good place to start,  Steve Tobak was the contributor and I have no idea of who he is, but I am indebted to him for his thoughts on - "10 Behaviors of Genuine People."  I could spend days writing about just those three words - behavior, genuine and people.

Most of you who know me best probably believe that I have spend most of my days trying to be genuine, after years of being less than.  But what was is no longer.  What has been is in the past.

I have often referred to my past by starting with to the fact I was not born into a genuine family.  I was blessed to have been sent to live with the most genuine folks I have ever know in all of my many years, but that did not ease the pain of a reality that they did not understand.  I was a child to be loved and they went out of their way to love me as they had with their own four children.  So, I did what would become a pattern for my life for far too many years, I ran away.  And I became good at that.

Being genuine was a quality that escaped me for a long, long time.  For example, Steve's first thought on folks being genuine escaped me for decades.  "They don't seek attention."  So, what did I do? I joined the Air Force and learned that if you do not seek attention, no one will ever notice you.  It took me a couple of years to learn this fact of life in the military, but I learned it well and was amply rewarded - I thought.  When I came  home to be with my family, I can not recall anyone with any interest in my experiences, even though I had spent four years in the Far East and I ached to tell others of the wonderful world I had discovered, just beyond our shores.  Steve is right, I was developing an ego that needed constant reinforcement.  I had yet to learn that genuine people are filled with self-confidence - AND, self-awareness.  I was as he suggests, "wasting my brain".

"They are not concerned with being liked."  I was overwhelmed with the idea that being "liked" could be proven as an ability to overwhelm others, especially the opposite sex.  Having girlfriends became my idea of success at my age.  Then, I met a truly genuine girl who had the kindest way of showing me how much I had to learn.  I was stationed on the Gulf Shores and she came back from a visit to tell me how much she loved me.  I was overwhelmed.  She took an apartment on the beach and spent her days, waiting for me to get back to her.  One day I was delayed because an important person had arrived from the Pentagon and was there to examine a proposal my group had sent to his office.  I was four hours late in getting to the beach and when I asked her apartment manager where she might be, I was told they had taken her to the hospital in Pensacola.  They had discovered her unconscious on her blanket after taking in those deadly rays.  They were that day.  She was DOA when she arrived at the hospital.  "Being liked" was no longer possible.  I hated myself and took on a attitude that others should share in my assessment.  Narcissism was not my problem, self-hatred took hold of my life and thoughts of relationships went out of the window,

"They can tell when others are full of it".  I was not just naive, I was living in a world of my own - where only fools dared to tread.  My last assignment in the USAF was under a Colonel who I had come to love when we were stationed together in Japan.  Six months later, I detested almost everything I knew about him and the die was cast, I had better move on.  I had discovered that I was the one who was full of it.

I was definitely not "comfortable in my own skin" as Steve offered as the next attribute of genuine people and it was't going to get any better.  I headed for Georgia and college in Atlanta where my mother lived and little I did realize at the time, the attitudes I held about her love for her son rose anew.  I began to realize I was not "comfortable in my own skin" and did not consider that I was my problem.  I had served seven years in the military and I knew it was my "duty" to move on, plow ahead, always assuming I was in charge of my own life, all others, take notice.  Steve quotes Thoreau's famous dictum, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."  The first time I read that came as I was preparing for a college exam and there were tears in my eyes.

I graduated from college with high honors, had been married along the way - as a way of getting away from my mother and her boyfriend, and it seemed that I had recovered from my past.  The only problem was that I was violating Steve's next thought about genuine people.  "They do what they say and say what they mean".  I don't even know whether others were onto me, but I was doing just the opposite.  I was doing what was best for me and meaning was not a factor in my life.  Commitments?
That was for others to believe and for me to ignore.

Well, I am about halfway through an excellent article that I wished others would take to heart as I am committed to do.  There's that word!  OK, I have given you no reason to read on, but please do.  I have a miracle to share with you, tomorrow.  I promise, the "real" me promises!