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The Cracked Acorn

The Cracked Acorn: Christmas Time

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And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” –
Luke 2

It’s that time of the year and I am never ready for it!

For months now it has been peeking out of the corners of all the major discount stores.

Yes, it is “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and “Jack Frost nipping at your nose” time of the year.

“I have shot an arrow into the Christmas season and I know not where it will fall!” Many seasons have come and gone since I was young enough to remember when it was time to find the small cedar tree in a fence row for the house, to decorate and admire for its beauty. Decorations were homemade for all even the star on the top was cut from heavy cardboard and covered in foil.

Feelings!

We all have them,and what would it be like if we were numb to everything? It seemed that every time we were reorganized in the federal government to better do our work there would be a new supervisor to try and give us that warm and fuzzy feeling about our work. This is good!, if not over done. The proper feeling about many of our activities and that does include the church work can accomplish amazing results.

Every year I wait for the melancholy and that warm fuzzy feeling that once again 365 days have just about disappeared into memories. My loved one and I were conversing about the holidays and the subject peanut butter popped up. I replied that I could not recall any such item during my childhood and that we were too poor to afford a jar of peanut butter. I could not remember when I first had peanut butter spread on anything to eat.

It is a wonderful season and I still enjoy seeing other people do their shopping and dragging the children with them. A very, very Kentucky Christmas Eve saw us shopping for groceries at the A & P or maybe we would drive the 50 miles to the Harvey’s Department store at Nashville, Tennessee. It was a treat to shop for gifts, have a meal and drive through an outdoor display at one of the large parks. Of course, the weather was very cold. I was probably already wearing my long johns with the trap door; houses were heated with wood stoves to ward off the cold from the single pane windows. If the prayer for the Christmas dinner was for our blessings; I asked for an early spring.

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The Cracked Acorn

The Cracked Acorn: Darkness

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On one of my last visits to the Kentucky home farm, our mother was interested in knowing when the final darkness occurred. I recall standing inside the screened front door and watching the various stages of fading light, it did take several minutes before you could no longer see the familiar outlines of the barn and farm equipment. Mother was ready for darkness with outside lights that came on after sunset. Although it was not like high noon there was now plenty of artificial light to see if animals or persons approached the house.

In the U.S.A., towns, and cities are well equipped at night to make it appear like “day.” Shopping malls and some stores stay open almost around the clock. Not so in other countries, their electricity may be rationed for a few hours each night. The electric grid with its high tension lines is nonexistent. I know that in remote areas of Brazil and Ethiopia, after all these years, it probably remains the same.

If you tour old castles, you see that ample walls, moats, and thorn fences were there to keep out, not the darkness, but those who took advantage of the “night.” Darkness compels people to do many things. The Bible uses it to illustrate sin. We all should be fearful of sin, for the very end of it means death and separation from the One who has given the price for our salvation.

Anna L. Coghill born in 1854 was only 18 years old when she wrote this hymn. She died in England on July 7, 1907. The last verse spells out a message for all of us.

WORK FOR THE NIGHT IS COMING!

Work, for the night, is coming, Under the sunset skies; While their bright tints are glowing, Work, for daylight flies.

Work till the last beam fadeth, Fadeth to shine no more; Work, while the night is darkening, When man’s work is o’er.

So, you can see that Anna Coghill never got to see the “age of electricity” come into its own and that man’s work now continues through all hours, if necessary. Anna’s life was in an era when most of our people lived on farms and rose at dawn and went to bed soon after dark.

Darkness, in the Bible, when it does not refer literally to lack of light, as in the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 10:21-29), frequently refers to ignorance, particularly unwillingness to know about God and His ways. Isaiah the prophet said concerning Jesus, who would come to bring the knowledge of God to all people: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2).

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

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The Cracked Acorn: Giving

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In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak we remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Acts 20:35

It seems like yesterday, that I made a remark to my Dad about what I thought of abuses to the church money. He explained that helping persons who need the money and have no way to repay it is what Christ has taught us.

(Every Sunday morning, the Lord’s Supper is served and then it is announced that a collection is not a part of the Supper will be taken. I have never see anyone get up and leave, at that point in the service.)

An elder of the church went to visit a member well known for his stinginess. Being the bold sort, the elder thought facing the miser would be the only right thing to do.

He sat down with the fellow and told him straight out that covetousness was idolatry, and that the elders were worried about his soul. “I know you are not giving as you should.” said the elder, “and I want us to study about it for your soul’s sake.”

Coldly the miser answered, “If you know that I haven’t been giving as I should, you probably know about my brother, too, huh?”

“No,” answered the elder, “I don’t.” “Well, sir, my brother was wounded in Viet Nam and has been confined in a hospital for the past 15 years at exorbitant cost.” “Oh my,” answered the embarrassed elder,

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry!”

“And I guess you know that my mother is in a nursing home. She’s been there for the past five years and that takes lots of money to keep her there. And did you know that my daughter and her husband face ruin unless they can scrape up enough money to pay for flood damage to their little shop?”

Dropping his head, the red-faced elder apologized and said, “Brother you have shown me today that it is wrong to judge someone from afar. I hope you will forgive me for my harsh attitude. I understand completely.”

“I knew you would,” answered the man. “After all, if I’m not going to give to them, I’m surely not going to give to you.” ANON

So far, we know that people seem to be more motivated by how they can help others when they give, rather than what they can get back. But we are not yet sure if we would find this same pattern in larger-scale studies. Our participants did not reflect U.S. demographics in terms of gender, age and race or ethnicity. The number of women who took part outnumbered the men, for example, which might have made donors look more altruistic than they would have with gender parity. (from WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT GIVING and DON’T KNOW!)

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The Cracked Acorn: Back When

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Once, our young sons every now and then would ask me to tell them about the good old days. Well, are the good old days gone? For us, the now older generation…those days are well gone. If you grew up on a farm or in a small town, the scenery is mostly gone. Family farms may still be trying to make it on 100 acres, I doubt it. The small town may now have its Walmart or a strip mall. Holidays are celebrated in a larger fashion than 50 years or so ago.

Some of us would think that the good old days were not really that great. Doctors usually had an office nearby and sometimes acted like Doc on Gunsmoke..you know, “Try this and if you make it through the night and have no more pain, well, then you are cured of whatever you had.” We are definitely living longer than past generations who died of flu and childhood infections that were killers to the older ones.

There was the church and the church building, one for the soul and the other for fellowship and picnics, vacation Bible school for the farm kids. At Christmas, there were boxes of food to be made and delivered. That is still done today, not as much maybe, food stamps and charity agencies now exist. Since we were less than 10 minutes from the church building, we were there any time the door was open. There were many sermons, a week-long gospel meeting every year. I never remember the members ever strayed too far from the straight and narrow way. If they did, it was down the front and put back to the work of the Lord. (Matthew 7:13)

The one thing that I miss from the good old days is freshness. There was a large garden that brought in all the best of vegetables and fruits. You name it, it was grown. I don’t think that I recall anyone dying from too much homegrown nutrition. I, also, miss the open invitation for visiting. Remember those days gone were the time of much openness with farmers and townspeople. If you decided that after supper and you were spruced up a bit, there was the chance for visiting a neighbor or having a neighbor stop by; this was when stories were told about hunting or about the latest failures in crops and the plan to do better next year. Pigs on the loose and a stray cow were items to laugh about.

I turned on my radio, in the middle of the night, And I heard things I need to know, Well, I never knew I had Martians in my Garden, And I never knew there were Aliens on my roof. I’ve got Shadow People, and they’re living in my basement, Got a funny feeling, Bigfoot’s gonna be here soon. I was so blind before, I was so unaware, But now I swear I’m seeing Sasquatch over there. (from Coast to Coast Radio AM1100)

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The Cracked Acorn: Cured

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It happened the first of the month, while I was in Giant Food, there I was with a few items wheeling along with my small cart and passing down the toothpaste aisle: mouth wash and where many other necessary lotions lived and such and such, on one side was the ointments you know, the cure-alls for skin bumps and rashes and etc.

I merged behind a married couple cruising the Neosporin and other tubes of promise to cure all those nasty skin afflictions; I did what has become my habit and I asked them what was the best: the lady suggested a couple that I already had tried – I showed her the raspberry sized Mt. Everest that had appeared along the left-back area of my jaw and made a home there days in and days out threatening to erupt; nothing I tried reduced the burning pain.

I finally discovered that if I put a dab from three tubes I had at home and then a touch of gel that was recommended for getting relief from gum ache, if I did this enough through the day, it helped.

I noticed that I had begun to draw a crowd with my small ailment: and one man in passing came over and pointed to one tube of salve on the top shelf and said, “this is what you need” and walked away. I tried to say “Thank you!” and he was gone to the checkout. The small tube said #1 polysporin for $6.49, next to one that was $14.95… it was worth a try.

When I returned home, I did what the directions said…use three times during the day; I cleaned the area and did as it directed. The day went on and it worked, the pain had gone away. What was in this magic potion….it was mega doses of 2 substances that were alarmingly mixed with several others in my other 3 tubes. I think I am cured but not according to the Internet, it could return for up to a year’s time or more.

I would have liked to really thank the man that pointed to it on the shelf but he is gone, probably never to see the same person in the store again.

Why is it that I am thinking of the 10 lepers and Jesus had healed them and only one returned to thank HIM, It is recorded that HE said, “Where are the others?” can we really blame them for not returning. The one that did had the genuine 100% faith that he believed he was truly healed and never would be cursed with leprosy ever again. Lack of belief on Jesus and other reasons may have caused the 9 to think that the cure might be a passing thing and it was time to enjoy a clean life while they had the chance. – Luke 17:11-18

NOTE: After thousands of years, about 20 cases of leprosy pop up in the USA every year and can be cured with several drugs. (maybe!)

 

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The Cracked Acorn: Life

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Life got you down. Bills are piling up! The car should be donated to charity. The children need braces. The home of your dreams has become your all the time fix-it nightmare. The vacation to Aruba is a no no!! Well, help is on the way. In 8 seconds you can have maybe $50 thousand to take home.

To get this paycheck you have to join a small group of dedicated individuals who live for these 8 seconds; they are part of the rodeo circuit. When the moment arrives, they throw their legs over a ton of ground round and hang tight till the judges rule it’s over, then they try to dismount and avoid being gored or stomped. If needs be the clowns rush over and let the daily Brahma bull chase them. Brahma bulls are bred to be just plain mean and the worst tempered ones are where the biggest prize money is. Names can be Air Wolfe, Predator, Freight Train, Chili Pepper, Second Chance, Wicked Charlie, Little Yellow Jacket, Moody Blues, Mr. Cooper, Bad Company, Phantom, Poker-faced, Ring of Fear, Wise Guy and Desperado- to name a few.

Today, for your first ride, you have drawn Baby Luv. He’s in the chute. You have the proper western clothes and climb to the top rail. Don’t let those big brown eyes and long eyelashes fool you. Baby lives to hurt you. You slide over to grab the rope around his girth. you grasp the rope with your one gloved hand. Baby rolls side to side trying to bust one of your legs. You eye the chute boy and nod that it’s time. The gate flies open. Baby Luv ignites and he hops like a frog and begins to buck and kick to the limits of heaven. The longest 8 seconds of your life has turned into a carnival Devil ride. Baby knows how to break the rules and before you can plan the next move; he humps, jumps and wriggles left to left. You thought it would be right to left. The good news is that they don’t have to carry you out of the arena. Wired jaws and riders that can’t walk quite straight are a common sight.

Why do these people choose to live their lives at high risk? Maybe they understand that the most important things in life are not things but choose to be in the life or die lane; quitters never win and winners never quit! The high adrenaline group never considers that there is an ‘if’ in the word life. To overcome the worst ride seems to be the ultimate goal at least for the people that ride the rodeo bulls.

Life can be a difficult and rough (ride) journey. Paul knew this and thought of the ultimate prize. “No mere man has ever seen, heard or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord.” (I Corinthians 2:9)

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The Cracked Acorn: Travels

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“Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Romans 14:19, NIV

Much of the world beyond our borders do not have the advantages that many of us have grown up with and have been exposed to the ever-changing technological advances that have changed the landscapes of our childhoods. I was fortunate to have work that required travel in other countries other than my own. In passing through many small towns and villages in Brazil, Ethiopia, Iran, and New Zealand, I saw the same picture. Other than New Zealand, I could not speak their language. I did see that others had a daily life and probably had the same desires, hopes, and dreams that we all have. There was the same chicken that ran across the road and the same thin dog that lay in the front yards of all the countries. Children tried to play in the road or had a car tire hung from a tree limb for a swing. I asked our liaison officer in Iran about all the loud music coming from the record stores. “What are they singing about?” He replied that it was all about lost love, pain, and hopes for a better life.”

My travels were a number of years ago, but I will venture to say that time in most of the third world countries is caught in a moratorium. If one were to travel there in 50 years or 100 hundred years, much of the daily life and condition will still exist. The Ethiopian land near the Red Sea in a harsh area and supports only those who can live off herding goats and cope with the searing heat and dry conditions. Brazil is a large country, much bigger when you travel into the interior and everyone will ask you the same question I heard at every truck stop, “Why are you here?” I guess they thought I was a crazy person to leave the USA. to travel to a place where electricity, telephone service, and refrigeration were limited.

The author of the following book, saw the same scene I had seen in other countries and he wrote down the following thoughts:

There was no heavy fighting around Danang ( for the rest of that summer. During the daytime, there did not seem to be any war at all. The rice paddies lay quietly in the sun. They were beautiful at that time of the year, a bright green dappled with the darker green of the palm groves shading the villages. The peasants in the villages in the secure areas went on living lives whose ancient rhythms had hardly been disturbed by the war. In the early mornings, small boys led the water buffalo from their pens to the river wallows and farmers came out to the fields. They plodded for hours behind wooden, ox-drawn plows, tilling the sunbaked hardness out of the earth. In the afternoons, when it became too hot to work, they quit the fields and returned to the cool dimness of their thatch huts. It was like a ritual: when the heat got too intense, they unhitched their plows and filed down the dikes toward the villages, their conical hats yellow against the green of the paddies. A wind usually sprang up in the afternoon, and in it, the long shoots of maturing rice made a luxuriant rippling. It was a pleasant sight, that expanse of jade-colored rice stretching out as far as the foothills and the mountains blue in the distance. At dusk, the buffalo were driven back to the pens. With the same boys walking beside them and whacking their haunches with bamboo sticks, they came down the dusty roads, their horned heads swaying and their flanks caked with the mud of the wallows. (A RUMOR OF WAR, Vietnam by Philip Caputo)

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