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!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

God's family tree

I have to believe, most of those who read these blogs know that I am a Christian,  You may not know, however, that I have moved my position somewhat.  I have joined the Mormon church, more accurately, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

I say that to say this, if you want to discuss my reasons for the move, I would love to hear what you have to ask - or state, as some have emphatically expressed their thoughts, on my decision.  We can talk - openly or if you prefer That is why I am posting my personal phone number - 1-931-528-7238.

All of that to say this, I received a blog from another friend, discussing - God's family tree and I will offer portions of what he had too say and probably, offer thoughts of my own.

The reason for my interest came about regarding the the Atonement, the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It made me go back to the years when I was accumulating evidence for my belief that I really did not have a family tree.  As I suggested to a Pastor a few years ago, I thought I was more like a "twig" on a God forsaken, bramble bush.  "Touch me and you may get hurt,"  Along the way - for nearly 45 years, I hurt lots of people..

Pastor Burden, my recently acquired new friend, started his blog with this thought.  "God likes trees"   That caught my attention, immediately.  Most do not know but I was recently widowed and left "alone" in a city I hardly knew.  I had moved to this city a few years ago to marry her, but - as I would discover, she had "willed" her house to other relatives and I found myself - on the street.  Not only that, I was disenfranchised from most of my in-laws..

Searching for new home, I found an apartment - off the beaten path, two bedrooms, so I had a place for my rather extensive library and a place to write.  It was perfect, two windows facing Eastward, sort of, so I had the brilliance of the rising sun and the memories one can find in a sunset.  Immediately, in between, as I looked out, was a huge tree.

And this morning, as I look out, it fills my view.  Its leaves are soaked from yesterday's rains and now, the wing is causing them to dance.  What a sight!  To the left, I can barely see the tops of another tree in the yard, but its leaves are still.

Pardon my imagination, but it appears as though "my" tree is dancing for me!  Well, you don't have to believe that, but I have to believe you might be missing a grand lesson that God has prepared for all of us - if only, we would pause - as some say, to smell the flowers. In my opinion, they are more important to us than those who are merely passing by.

At my age, I have to consider the possibility that this place where I live today may become the last "home" away from the home to which I will be headed.

So, my task, is to fill it to overflowing with memories.  I realize that for most of my life, my places of residency,. as some suggest they are called, were little more than hotel or motel rooms.  Here today, gone tomorrow with hardly a thought as to their contribution to my life. Reminds me of my service years.  Almost seven years were spent in an assigned "cot", more often than not, sharing space with others, hundreds and hundreds of faces that have been long since been forgotten..

Therefore, I vow to fill this place with memories of love, good times shared with good people.  Enter as a neighbor or a passer-by and leave as a friend.

And when the others are gone, "my" tree remains, still dancing for me this morning.

So, my prayer today for you is that you will discover that place in your life that prompts you to learn or to recall the fact, you did not arrive in this world, merely to take up space. God had His reasons.  It took me almost forty five years to come to that conclusion and then, more years to prove to myself, He really does care are me - and for you!

In my case, He planted a seed, years ago, knowing that someone like me might stop long enough to admire His masterpiece part and become, part of His family tree.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yet another, great day in Tennessee

So, here I am.  Fresh and alert.  Well, fresh anyway.  Up at 7AM and an inner urge to get back to the "work" I started yesterday.  First, the news.  Terrible train wreck, many dead.  Fodder for the news outlets, that they can be talking about it for days - at least, until another calamity.

Have you realized yet, they - those voices on the radio and on TV, may own your life, directing your thoughts away from the thoughts that God would have offered if you had been listening.  Oh yes, I am not talking to you.  I am talking to myself.  How easy it is - to lecture, when you have so much to say.

I am not, however, here to lecture.  Relax.  I want to share with you, some of the "life" I have been led to follow in the forty years I mentioned yesterday.

A reminder came yesterday as I was enjoying a picnic lunch with two of my closest spiritual advisers. The purpose of the lunch was so that they could share a lesson from the scriptures with me and it was about - Words of Wisdom.  Fascinating.  We began to concentrate on the Ten Commandments and they were about to learn, it has been a long time since I had attempted to memorize them, ver batim, word by word.  A few years ago, I developed a new theory on how to "memorize" them and it goes like this.

The first one is all about God (Exodus 20:2-5) and it is summarized in Deuteronomy 10:12.  "What does God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Also, see Micah 6:8

The second through the ninth commandments (Exodus 20:6-16) all have to do with our actions: - love others, do not offer curses, observe the Sabbath, honor your parents, do not commit murder, nor adultery, nor steal, nor lie.  Many of these are also taught by parents who have little or nothing to do with church as we commonly know it to be.

Now comes the greatest stumbling block in the Bible (Exodus 20:17) "You shall not covet what belongs to others, their relationships, or anything else" - my paraphrase.  Covet means to desire the properties of others.  Reality has to include even the accomplishments of others.  We live in a world where "more" is the common denominator.  You cannot escape it.  It is everywhere.  There is nothing wrong with it, except that we are always going to be tempted to take a short cut, here and there, even if it just ignoring for a moment or two, violating a traffic law.

Back to the DNA, briefly discussed yesterday.  Have you ever realized that God had a purpose for you that came into being when He blessed the union between your parents?  The Bible makes it clear when Jesus relates to us as the sheep in a pasture.  Sheep may be docile to some, but they are also guilty of wanting what they want, when they want it.  Look closely at your mirror.  Before God, that was me and I believe it was you as well.  Listen to the voices all around you.  Listen even more closely to the commercial advertisements that abound in our society.

The DNA proves that you and I are not like the others, basically.  Of course, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" but that is no excuse for our abhorrent behavior.  We are loved. There can be no greater motivating factor than that fact.

Unless of course, you don't believe in God,

How sad!  All you have to is listen.  The voice from within and from without.  Observe the tree for example.  Why is it there?   Many see some of them as a source of food.   Mankind also uses the leaves, the bark, even the roots and the lumber for construction purposes.  I love them for a much more practical reason; they provide shade in the summer and the promise that summer is on its way. And I well remember being out on a desert where there are no trees and I longed to have just one to get out of the blazing sun.

A greater truth is this, long before we were conceived, there were trees and all sorts of foliage from of a billion or more other plants, designed to sustain our lives,

All of that because the Creator saw the need to sustain the lives of His greatest creation, you and I.

I could spend hours, in fact days, perhaps months, describing all that I have seen and learned more about in my eighty-five plus years and you and I would be together for longer than I probably have the breath left to describe them.

All you have to do is accept the love that God longs to shower upon you and act accordingly..

The neat thing, I find, are those who came before you and I were even thought of and so God, knowing we were on our way, entered the heart and mind of Joseph Smith to create a trust in Him and ask him to interpret some writings that had been waiting for such a person..  The rest is history and is found in the Book of Mormon.  A book that I have examined closely, from cover to cover and know that what I have read is true.  Others may say that it is not true, but there are more who would even claim that the book we call the Holy Bible is not factual.  So that you know, the Bible and the Book of Mormon are in accord with the greatest truth mankind has ever been confronted with and that is there is a Creator and to prove His love for all of us, He sent his only begotten Son to pay the price for the sins that might otherwise dominate our lives

I have heard the voice of the critic again and again in the past forty years - after leaving the "world" behind and placing my trust in Jesus Christ, and they will be around long after my grandchildren have grandchildren.  My very life is more than enough proof that He lives in reality and longs that you will join us.

Eternity is a long, long time and to waste away one's life, not believing what has proven to be true, is a lot like placing yourself in prison where few will acknowledge you and even fewer will care about your tomorrow.

It has been said before, I will say it again, the best time to make a right decision is when the facts have become obvious to you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Great day in Tennessee

Absolutely, a gorgeous day.  Temperature in the low 80's, beautiful breeze, great day for a picnic, so I joined a couple of lovely ladies for one in a nearby park.

When a guy gets to be in his late 80's, as I have, and now widowed, no car as I wrecked mine a few weeks ago,  he has lots of time to write.  The more I write, the more I am eager to do so.

And since tomorrow will be the 40th anniversary of that date when I - finally,  got my life on track, I thought I might share a bit with you.

It was the day after Mother's Day (1975) and I was on a bus headed for Tulsa, OK.  You really do not need all of the gory details, but I was hurting and hopefully, heading for a healing.  I had come from San Diego, CA, where my wife and the mother of our children was in prison, probably to spend the next twenty years - or so I thought at the time.  The man I was going to see, I thought, was a well known Pastor whose specialty seemed to be, healing the hurting.  And I was hurting!

But I was nervous, wondering how he - so very knowledgeable about the Bible, might address my problems as I was far from being knowledgeable about the scriptures, even though I had been going to church for the greater part of my - soon to be, 45 years of age.  I decided to open my Bible, but where to start?  Certainly not Genesis 1:1.  I knew that one by heart, testimony to the fact I had often tried and more often, failed to read the Bible as others thought I should.

I decided to start where Jesus started in His earthly mission, Matthew 4:17.  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Repent.  Repent?  I had no idea what that meant and after awhile, I thought I might ask God.  He had occasionally answered the prayers I had learned in Sunday School.  And so, I did.  I was almost asleep when I began to realize, my mind had gone back to those years when I came to hate my beginning in life.  My parents were newlyweds and he wanted a daughter.  I assumed he did not want me.  Then, my sister came along, but I had the measles, so they sent me to live with my grandparents on the farm.  It was 1932, things were not good for so many people and apparently it was true for my parents.  Anyway, from that day forward, it was as if I had been abandoned, even though I was much loved by my grandparents where I would spend most of my youth.  At 17, I literally ran away and joined the Army Air Corps.  The more I thought about my fate in life, my father had died and left me and I thought that was also true of my mother.  The fact was, I had begun to sow bad seeds and was now reaping an unhealthy harvest.

There on that bus, with my life whirling about in my head, I realized I had reason to repent and so, I did.  Tears streaming out my eyes, I begged God for another chance.  He gave me Jesus.

That is the shorter story.  It was about to end as when I stepped off of that bus in Tulsa, and vowed that I would never go back to living the kind of life I had embraced, hating others, fearful of my own future.  With God's help and the teaching offered by His Son, my Lord, Jesus Christ, I have kept that promise.  It has been a long journey, but day by day, often hour by hour, i have faced the future and forgotten the past, expecting the best and it has been showered upon me.

Oh wait, don't think it has been easy.  I had to learn a lot of things, starting with the fact that I was loved from the moment of my birth to this very moment.  And, since I was the recipient of love, I was obligated to extend it to everyone I would meet.  That took a lot of learning.  Even my contemporaries, the folks I would meet along the way as well as many of my "brothers" in the church, did not seem to agree with me.  I tried to get them not to debate with me, but to "hear" what our Lord had to say on the subject and even that did not work every time,  At least, I had sown some new seeds that if, well cultivated, could lead to eternal life

Along the way, the church I was attending decided that what we needed was the power that was to come from the baptism in the Holy Spirit made evident by the ability to "speak in tongues". They started having classes to teach how this was to be accomplished and to many, there was success. Not for me.  Try as I may, there were no "utterances" coming from my throat. Then, I ran into trouble with a couple of my Sunday School classmates and we met to talk about the problem I had apparently created.  I was hurt and as they talked back and forth, I chose to pray.  To my complete amazement and theirs, I offered my opinion in a "tongue", a language none of us understood and they believed that God had stepped in between us.  That was alright with me as I certainly did not want to hurt my friends.

What had happened sent me to my Bible to see, if what I had been hearing in those classes were scriptural or merely, the opinion of men.  Looking back, I was now beginning to grow.  My Bible study was beginning to become part of my daily routine.

It should have been - from the onset of my new life in Christ, but I was about to discover one of the fallacies of the churches I had been attending.  I had loved the fellowship, the music, the programs, the people, but as I sought counsel, I was easily dismissed and that began to trouble me.  So, I sought other churches and in one, in particular, I found a new wife.

We really did not wait for the Lord's blessing.  We were blessed by the fellowship we were enjoying and we studied together as we had come from different religious backgrounds. We really believed, "love conquers all" but we were both to learn, that depends on whose love. And then she got sick and eventually died,

That was an amazing experience for me as I was hurt, but not sad at her passing.  I began to question my own faith and pray - and pray, and pray.  Then, one day, out of the blue, after I had been praying for something, or someone, I really forget what I was trying to convey, but my prayers were answered.  It was as if God had entered the room where I was praying and I began to have thoughts in my mind that had never been there before.  It was as if He was trying to tell me I was on the wrong path in life, that in my efforts to tell others of the changes in my life since I had been "born again", I was not really paying much attention to the lives of those with whom I was making contacts.  I had begun to believe, I was responsible for their change.

I was wrong.  I cannot change anyone.  My only task was to continue loving people of course, but as I met people, I was not to try to convince them of anything; merely to reflect His grace at work in my life.  "If they are hungry, they will come,"

That was when He reminded me that in this world of 7+ billion others, each one of us has a different DNA.  We may resemble one another, but we are not alike.  The proof is in our DNA. If we are to believe that God is author of life, all life, as I do, our operating mechanism to help others discover what we have discovered are those two appendages on the sides of our heads. We are to listen and then we talk, if there are questions.  They have a right to their privacy.

Have you ever noticed, Jesus operated on that principle.  He taught that others might inquire but he sought others by listening and explaining life as it was meant to be.

It is not as many want to believe, our knowledge that is required for us to respond to others, it is our empathy, our understanding of the other person's reality.

I could spend a lot more time on this subject and you can believe, I will.  Not today.  Probably tomorrow.  I hope I will find you there, willing to listen.

Monday, May 11, 2015

It may be early, but it certainly is not too late

I know, it's early in the month of May, 1015, but the most important election in the history of our nation is not that far into the future.  Mark your calendars, October, 2016

Yes, you ought to know that I am talking about next year's Presidential election.

Turn on your TV for a dew minutes and you will see the candidates already lining up for the grand prize, the opportunity to be hated by most of our citizens.  No matter who wins, the die has been cast every since we decided to elect a black man to the White House.  They started lying almost him before he and his family had even moved to Washington.  Surely you remember the claims that he was not a legal citizen and we wasted away weeks and months, before the claims disappeared from the headlines of our manor newspapers.

And did you realize, that was only the first salvo in the hundreds to come in the war against the party in power, waged by those who were deprived of the power?  That was the game his opponents played over and over again.

Well, that war is almost over.  The new crop of "wanna be powerful" is beginning to emerge.

Now, It is time for the proverbial "all good men, and women" to come to the air of their country.  It may be our last chance.  I hope to see this coming election, but I doubt seriously if I will live to see another.  I intend to vote.  I have to ask, are you prepared to vote?

It is a two-step process; you register to vote and then you do so on election day.  It is critical that you do as it may be your last opportunity, as well.

In the last election, they tell me, less than a third of eligible voters cast their ballots.

I keep reminding forks, our Constitution starts with the premise, "We, the people,,,"  We, the people, not the rich and powerful.  When they win, we lose.  All we have to do is for anyone who cares for his or her country is to start - TODAY, preparing yourself for the battle to come.  The rich and powerful are willing to risk millions upon millions to put their friends in office.  All "We, the people..." have to do is convince ten others to vote, who will convince ten others, who will convince ten others, who will convince ten others, who will convince ten others, who will convince ten others, who will convince ten others and finally, convince ten others.  100 million Americans saying "Enough is enough, we are tired of being told what we can or can not do. Our fore-fathers envisioned a nation where freedom reigns, not bureaucracies, nor billionaires whose only real goal is to make themselves richer."

This is the answer, the only real answer.  We do not need any more fancy campaigns and meaningless slogans.  One will do -"We" vote and they lose!"

There is time to launch that effort as  our "diligent duty to God and country"

Who will we vote for?  That is not important, today.  If we have already read our history books, as we should have over the years, at the right time, the right man or woman will appear.

Make your children and your grandchildren proud, protect their future

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day tribute for a grand Mother

When they talked about this Sunday being Mother's Day, I suddenly felt sorrow that my Mother was no longer with us and I bowed my head, asking God to forgive me for the attitudes i far too often had expressed about her.  It was then I heard a voice, "But you had a grand Mother!"

And the more I thought about it, that was true.  So for those of you might not understand, here is a little background.

It was 1929 and my father and mother were expecting their first daughter.  He had been married before, had two sons, and as the story goes, he yearned for a daughter.  After he was divorced, he married my mother and so I was told, he was elated at the thought of having a daughter.  Those were the days when the nation idolized young starlets and foremost among all of them, was Shirley Temple.  Their new baby was named before it was even born.

I sa it because, I was it!  I have heard that they searched for a "matching" name and someone mentioned that the name of their bank President was Sherwood Recor.  It became Sherwood.  But what about a middle name, what "rhymed" with Sherwood?  They decided on our grandmother's maiden name, - Brown.  Sherwood Brown!  Hey, it might have been Pink!

After the great Stock Market crash of 1929, life moved on as they did.  Detroit, Toledo, OH and then, Lakewood, OH, and mother was pregnant again.  This time they got my father's fondest wish, a girl, and yes, she was named Shirley, Shirley Lou.

But as the story goes, they had a problem and it was, Sherwood.  They could not bring Shirley Lou home as Sherwood, had the measles.  The solution was at hand in that mother's mother was there for the new baby and she seized the opportunity to take her first grandson home with her to the farm in Yale, Michigan.

And there Sherwood would stay, except for a brief period of time after the family moved back to Detroit and he would live there for a year or so until his father passed out on his way home from work.  Another problem and Sherwood was on his way "home" to the farm where he would live until he joined the Army Air Corps in 1946, three and a half weeks after his 17th birthday.

Life on the farm was great for a growing boy, lots of room to play with a friend, a beautiful Collie dog named, Tippy, and of course, his grandparents and their son, Blake.  I really did not miss my parents.  Father died from the results of that fall and I never got to know him.  Mother and Shiley lived in Detroit and occasionally, came to the farm for weekend visits.  Other than that, I would grow up, never really knowing my mother either, except that I thought she was beautiful and always smelled nice when she came to visit.

But that seemed to be OK, after all I had my grandparents to care for me and that turned out to be one of the greatest experiences in my lifetime - now in my 85th year, reaching out for more.

Grandpa was always Grandpa.  Wonderful man, who worked from 4:30AM every day until the sun went down, except for Sundays.  He taught me many things, not because he took the time to discuss life in general, he just personified integrity and was highly respected in the community.

Grandma was never grandma, or grand mother, or "old lady".  She was - Nan!  And she loved her first grandson.  Most of us think that was because she had lost a son, still born, a couple of years before I came along and all the love she had prepared for her second son, was showered on me.  She was my "rock" as Grandpa was usually too busy and my mother lived too far away.  I learned what it meant to love and to be loved, unconditionally.  The only time I ever remember scolding me was when I complained that my mother, really did not love me, only my sister.  She made my bed, washed my clothes and wiped away my tears when there was no one else around.  And then she cried when I decided to leave High School and join the Air Force.

I was in Japan when I received what would be a package every month or so - typically filled with the cookies she knew I loved and then, one day, the package contained two quart jars filled with chunks of venison (deer meet) and I would become best of friends with the Mess cook who helped me eat them.

One of my uncles had shot the deer she said, but later on, another box arrived with more venison, but no comment as to who had shot the deer.  It was way past the deer season. Years later, I was back in Yale for my grandmother's funeral and stopped by Evans and Knapp, the town butcher and learned she had bought the venison meat after noticing they had some on sale.

That was my grand mother, the only real Mother I would ever know and love.  I'll close with this final episode.  I was back in the States, in Illinois, and received a telegram, "Mother is dying. B.L." That was Mother telling me about Nan.  I was on my way the next morning.  Driving about 80 mph on the highway leading into Indianapolis, I was stopped by a patrol man.  "In a hurry, Sarge," was his greeting as I handed him the telegram laying on the seat beside me.  'Well, let's see if we can help you get home," and told me to follow him - at 85 mph, past Indianapolis and all the way to the Michigan border, where we were met by the Michigan police, waiting in a diner.  They had my lunch waiting for me and offered to escort me further.  As they kept talking about my mother, I had to explain that "B.L." was my mother, she was talking about my grandmother.  "OK" the patrolman answered, "no more escort, but if you have any trouble along the way, call the number on my card."

I got home OK, to hear my grandmother's voice in her bedroom.  "Is that Sherwood?" and when they said it was, she was out of bed and wrapped me in her arms, tears pouring out of her eyes.  I was home!  With my Grand mother, the only mother I wold ever really know.