Memory took me back to my childhood school days. Students were seated alphabetically. This was the seating arrangement for the year. Attendance was called before the start of class every school day. It was the duty of your parents to get you to school in all kinds of weather. Two-foot snow could close schools. At the end of the year, attendance awards were given.
After worship service long ago at Great Falls Church of Christ, a lady visitor asked if I would write in her journal that she had attended the church with us that day. I directed her to one of the elders, and whether he signed, I don’t know. I had never heard of a church that demanded proof that you were in worship on a Sunday morning.
Church attendance has become a concern, not only in the U.S. but beyond our shores. Total commitment programs, care groups, and other good ideas to improve attendance do help but eventually peak and level off. Many are placing the blame on the numerous secular activities that overlap or happen at the same time as worship.
We could also add cell phones, television, and the internet that have their tentacles into our prime time. Sports place stress on members to enjoy seeing a good Sunday game in person. Our fast-paced society calls for many to have a varied work schedule, and often Sunday is the only day off to rest up for the next work week. Shopping centers and many stores are open every day and even 24/7. Newspaper chains are crying the “blues” that people are not reading, and we are getting the television news from our recliners.
This is interesting! An issue of U.S. News & World Report stated that Europe may be Islamic by the end of the 21st century. This is linked to the banning of religious symbols and the failure to mention the effect of Christianity on the populace. Humanism has given rise to the worst ideologies of the 20th century. Spiritual boredom has given rise to hyperindividualism and a lack of confidence in the future. Many have turned away from the faith of their forefathers and have become involved in mystical ecstatic forms of spiritual experience. Populist Christian movements have claimed hundreds of thousands of young followers who are seeking to make Christian beliefs real in their lives and work. Christianity has become diluted with diverse issues.
This is supposedly happening in Europe, should we be thinking it cannot happen on this continent? Time will tell. God knows the future. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Matthew 6:34)
I LOVE THY KINGDOM LORD, THE HOUSE OF THINE ABODE; THE CHURCH OUR BLEST REDEEMER SAVED WITH HIS OWN PRECIOUS BLOOD. I LOVE THY CHURCH O GOD! HER WALLS BEFORE THEE STAND, DEAR, AS THE APPLE OF THINE EYE, AND GRAVEN ON THY HAND. FOR HER MY TEARS SHALL FALL, FOR HER MY PRAYERS ASCEND; TO HER MY CRIES AND TOILS BE GIV’N, TILL TOILS AND CARES SHALL END. BEYOND MY HIGHEST JOY I PRIZE HER HEAV’NLY WAYS, HER SWEET COMMUNION, SOLEMN VOWS, HER HYMNS OF LOVE AND PRAISE. ( SACRED SELECTIONS )
Satan exists and eternal salvation is possible only through His Son. Jesus lived a sinless life on earth. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, the perfect deity who created the universe and still rules today. “Happy is that people, in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 144:15)
The Cracked Arcorn: Bob is dead
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been dead and in the tomb for four days. When Martha discovered that Jesus was on his way, she went out to meet him. “Lord,” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (from the 11th chapter of John)
Bob is dead! Yes! and Bob will be missed. Bob Lamb, 65, and a cancer victim in the Bethel Academy community of Warrenton, Virginia, where I have lived for the past 33 years. Bob was a last comer and only lived here for about 15 years. He drove a pickup truck and would stop and talk some, or when he came down to the mailbox, he would also pause and chat about several things. I told him once that his house was an excellent candidate for a widow walk on the roof; it has an excellent view of the surrounding countryside.
It was after I heard that Bob was dead that I learned he was a former member of the Marine Corps. He was the good neighbor who ensured the lawn was mowed and drove to his house, obeying the speed limit after our roads were paved.
When I heard that Bob was dead, it reminded me of an office story. When I came to work for the U.S. Geological Survey and was in the survey computations section, one of the civil engineers died, Bob Pullis. I only knew him from breaks in the coffee room: He went to sleep one night and never woke up. When he died, many of our group were on vacation or just out on a few days of annual or sick leave. The slip with the announcement of his death was dropped into the IN box of the supervisor’s desk and gradually made its way from desk to desk. Our boss was a retired officer in the U.S. Army and ‘encouraged’ quietness while we worked. In this atmosphere, you would suddenly hear, “Oh no! Bob is dead!” This continued for several weeks until the word was completely circulated that “Bob was dead!”
Please, not just now! My wife is gone to be with Jesus, and I am now blessed with a lady friend, I still have so much yet to live for! (You may want to get a jump start and insert your name here!) So, maybe this is very fitting that we do pay some homage to those we may only know a little about, and then we hear someone say, “Carson is dead!”
Now, may… “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26) from the International Bible.
“When Jesus comes at the dawn or early morn, HE shall call us one by one…Will HE answer thee, “WELL DONE?” O can we say we are read, Ready for the soul’s bright home?” – Fanny Crosby, Sacred Selections
The Cracked Acorn: To Be Alive
“How many times have you heard someone say “If I had his money, I could do things my way”? But little they know, it’s so hard to find 1 rich man in 10 with a satisfied mind.” (Johnny Cash, circa 1978) QUOTED many times by my farmer father…always trying to give us a good living!
April 15, 2013, Monday, 2:49 pm. Many of us will probably soon forget this date, but it will never go away for thousands who were there on this day in the Boston Marathon.
Television and radio and maybe movies yet to come will keep alive this terrible event, hoping that this will not occur again. In the “course of human events,” it is impossible to promise that this will ‘never’ happen again.
Of those who survived, some were fortunate enough to be out of range of the explosions, look back, and say they are glad to be alive. There is no mention of the loss of wealth or the possibility that lawsuits could occur, just the ” I am glad to be alive!” and said by some who lost legs, “I am glad to be alive!”
Our country has always tried its best to keep the memory of those caught in these events alive. The list is long, from World Wars to the Trade Center to the present time when tragedy seems to become local. We love closure and set up monuments and even wooden crosses with flowers along the roadside to make sure that those gone are * remembered.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? (Psalm 2: 10/11) ... be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.& Serve the Lord with fear.
This seems to be our heritage. What is the answer? (I knew you were going to ask!)
Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. James 4:14…Amplified Bible
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
*Tis sweet to be remembered on a bright or gloomy day
‘Tis sweet to be remembered by a dear one passed away
‘Tis sweet to be remembered, yes remembered, yes remembered
‘Tis sweet to be remembered when loved ones are far away
(Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you seem and smarter than you think,) anon
The Cracked Acorn: Something New
The old year will soon be part of our memories, and the new year has begun. There is still time to make a list of things to do to improve our lives or tidy up chronic items that never seem ever to go away. Most would agree on the following and add your own to this list:
Spend more time with family and friends, enjoy life more, get out of debt, learn something new, help others, and get organized.
Is there a way to conquer each of these or any that you wish to add? Time is our biggest enemy and limits our ability to enjoy life (as I see it!) because we are a time-conscious society. Many are lost in debt and cannot begin anything new. There are always opportunities to help others. Getting organized and staying that way for all the seasons is very difficult.
A NEW YEAR’S PRAYER
A whole new year is mine today…
May I be wiser, Lord, I pray!
I’d strengthen friendships, old and true
And learn to cherish new ones, too;
To keep on learning and to grow
A little deeper as I go.
To cast aside each grudge and grief,
And hold fast to a firm belief
That life is joyous, gracious, good,
When lived in terms of brotherhood.
To welcome fun and play awhile,
To lighten work with a pleasant smile!
To thank the lord and every day
Remember Him, and kneel and to pray,
In gratitude for strength and health
And blessings which are all my wealth.
This year’s a gift from God to me
To spend, or use, or set me free…
A whole new year is mine today…
May I be wiser, Lord, I pray.
A NEW Year’s Blog suggests that we start 2023 by cleaning up our language and also not using the following:
Dog gone, dog gone it, darn it, dern it, by gosh, con sarn it, gol dern it, gol darn it, ye gods, ye gads, cheese and crackers, dag nab it, dad bern it, dang it, son of a buck, son of a sea crook, son of a sea horse, son of a biscuit eater, gee whiz, dad blast it, shucks, blast it, drat, gosh darn it, gosh dern it, con found it, ding bust it, by golly, hang it all, what in the sam hill, oh shoot, for heaven’s sake, mercy me, I swan and oh pshaw. Horse feathers, fiddle-dee-dee and piddle-dee-dee, holy mackerel, holy Toledo, holy Jehosephat, phony baloney, fiddlesticks, jeepers creepers, I’ll be hanged, I’ll be switched, you tell ‘em, I studder, well bust my buttons, shoot, for gripe’s sake, heaven help us, for Pete’s sake, it’s a stinkin’ lie, that’s a heck of a note, he’s full of malarkey, he’s full of beans, lawsy, that’s a lot of bunk, he’s full of baloney, by jingle and heavens to Mergatroid.
The Cracked Acorn: Culture
If you watch the Middle East evening news, you will see a footprint of how many ways have important names and places in these countries been mispronounced.
Having spent some time in Iran, I know that the name of the capital, Tehran, is never pronounced there the way Americans say it. Language is so vital to a nation and the pride of its people. If we are to get to their hearts, we will have to spend more time cultivating their language.
We expect everyone to speak English, and that has become the norm. Wouldn’t it be nice to converse in another language? Enough said on this!
About the time of WWI, two farmers were talking across the fence. One asked if the other one knew that the war was over. The reply was, “No, I didn’t know they were fighting!” This does not happen anymore. We get a daily world update on everything if you have a TV, radio, or phone.
The schools do their best to make students aware that the world has become bigger. Distant countries have become our next-door neighbors. We rely on foreign nations for oil and all kinds of goods, personal and otherwise. There was a time when you wanted to see and try to speak to someone from beyond our shores. You had to board a ship or plane; not anymore. We are blessed with those who have come here and become citizens.
You may not be interested in other countries cultures, but eastern culture is already in our hymn books.
From SACRED SELECTION –“HAND IN HAND WITH JESUS.” This song mentions a custom among good friends.
ONCE FROM MY POOR SINSICK SOUL, CHRIST DID EVERY BURDEN ROLL; NOW I WALK REDEEMED AND WHOLE, HAND IN HAND WITH JESUS, HAND IN HAND WE WALK EACH DAY, HAND IN HAND ALONG THE WAY, WALKING THUS I WILL NOT STRAY, HAND IN HAND WITH JESUS.
This custom among good friends in the Middle East will never make it here. We frown on this “hand in hand” stuff. It is only found among close members of our personal family. I have yet to see members of the church walk “hand in hand”; we show our affections in other ways that are just as wonderful.
In Jewish history, they tried not to write or speak the name of God. To them, it was YHVH (Exodus 3:14-15). This was the Unutterable Name of the Distinctive Name of God. Other names were used, and when scribes wrote them in the text, they were very careful that these names were not taken in vain. It was about 1100 A.D. that Christians began pronouncing and giving God the name of Jehovah. This seemed to fit well into the hymns that were being composed. No matter how it is pronounced, GOD is GOD, and this will never change.
Exodus 3:14 – “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”
The Cracked Acorn: Beside the Road
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.” (Exodus 13:19)
It sits beside the road, once in its glory, could be easily noticed, but now the time has gone by, and traffic speeds on its way into Culpeper to find bargains at one of the Super stores open 24/7.
One must be traveling slowly and look to the right, and there it is in a madness of timothy, foxtail, clover, and different types of grass almost covering its once moment of emplacements. Mother nature is doing its best to hide this interloper. We see these appointments of kindness due to a sense of sadness and loss alongside other roads and highways. Some have complained to the Highway Departments that these are distracting and could cause accidents, for a lack of a reason.
No one knows how highway monuments got started, when, and where they sprung up. Some are works of art and have tiny white stone encirclements and toys or some items that once belonged to the departed. They are a reminder of human weakness and moments of terrifying strokes of death and injury. Life and death decisions were made at these spots by rescue people and emergency medical technicians. Even though we, somewhere at one time or another, have been ‘forced’ in the workplace to watch films showing what speed and drugs and alcohol can do at 70 miles per hour on the roads, we go out, and the faults of mankind fail to disappear.
Within this random chaotic arrangement of clover, weeds, and display of bucolic sent from above flowers is a subliminal message. The staked unstable monument is a styrofoam cross
with its headdress of Walmart vinyl chain of floral flowers. It is the cross, and those who sat it on the ground must believe that there is a God and that there is hope and that eventually,
somewhere beyond this arena of passing joys and moments of sadness, is another place, eternal, and there we shall all meet again.
I know, and you know, that this could be an inappreciable place, and why would anyone want to do this? Sits a cross to be soon cast into the landfill or crushed by an attempt to mow and clear the byways for passing motorists. I could answer that I would have the answers to more of those questions that all of us face from time to time and have to answer, “I don’t know!” and hope this is enough to have closure.
“I spent all day staring at a leaf; I know that my time here is brief.” – John Hiatt –
The Cracked Acorn: Love
Ah, the season of love and Valentine’s Day. The newspaper published a short article further to show the power of this amazing human emotion.
Our U.S. ambassador to Mexico had found the love of his life. He is the son of hard-working parents and has worked his way up the political ladder to this high office. His lady love is wealthy, not several million but 1.5 billion worth. She is one of Latin America’s wealthiest and most powerful women. The couple is ignoring this. “Love is not about money. Love is about the values you carry inside.” There will be a prenuptial agreement. Will this marriage work out? Maybe! We will have to keep buying the daily paper. Will Antonio and Maria be able to ignore the King Kong of wealth and enjoy a simple life of love and happiness? This relationship has all the ingredients of a nice long-running soap opera.
Our Modern media uses “love” in all its forms to promote, sell and circulate all types of products and propaganda. I remember a radio preacher of years ago who said everyone is looking for love.
When they find it, it is like a well. They drink and drink till the well is dry. Then they move on to the next well, where it is repeated over and over. Are we that way today? Times have changed.
Morals have changed. We have more freedom to question and seek our own answers to our needs and wishes. Resources are available to aid us in our search for fulfillment.
We have not strayed too far from our ancient roots of seekers and gatherers. We still look up at the evening sky, wonder about its mysteries, and see ourselves as small but vital in an important universe. Yes. We are all looking for eternal love that cannot be severed by time and our puny problems. Will wealth come between our two love birds in the newspaper? The mathematical odds are heavily weighted that it could, but in human attachments, we can never know for sure.
From the Bible:
“I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have the faith. needed to move mountains-but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned-but if I have no love, this does me no good.” 1 Corinthians, 13:1-13.
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.” Thessalonians 3:12.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they wit]. be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Corinthians 14:1.
“…Love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith,” 1 Timothy 1:5
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John, Chapter 15, Verse 13
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.”‘ 1 John. 4: 18
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” Song Of Solomon 3:7
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.” John 3:16
“Love is a many splendored thing
It’s the April rose that only grows in the early Spring
Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king!” (Williams & Williams)