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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: Pew Presence

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A comedian said that all through grade school, he sat behind “Whimpering Charlie.” When Charlie didn’t come to school, he would go over to his house and sit behind Charlie. This reminded me of 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 parents to get you to school in all kinds of weather. Two-foot snow might close schools. At the end of the year, attendance awards were given.

After worship service years 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 wanted proof that you were in worship on a Sunday morning.

Church attendance has become a concern, not only in the U.S.A. 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 of worship. We could also add iPhones, television, and the internet that have their tentacles into our time. Sports place stress on crowds 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 workday. Shopping centers and many stores are open every day and even 24/7. Newspaper chains are crying the “blues” that people are not reading. We are getting the television news from our recliners.

U.S. News & World Report has stated that Europe may be Islamic by the next 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 this century. Spiritual boredom has given rise to hyper-individualism 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 are trying to claim followers who are seeking to make Christian beliefs real in their lives and work. Christianity has become diluted with diverse groups and issues.

This is supposedly happening in Europe, should we be thinking it cannot happen on these shores? 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! -lyrics – SACRED SELECTION HYMNS

Satan exists… 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.” that is (Psalm 144:15)

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The Cracked Acorn: Hard Times

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The KENTUCKY DERBY has been delayed this year. It is a nostalgic event from my childhood when we traveled in our Kaiser to Louisville to my uncle and aunt’s home, their only child, Doris, was still alive. From there we drove out to Churchill Downs to make a day of it. I was probably 12 years old at the time. I recall that the crowds were large, and I was small lost in the adults out on the infield. The men wore brimmed hats and the ladies had their flowery hats to keep the sun off. When the race was over, there was quite a flow of people using the tunnel under the track to reach the parking lots. It was not time to get separated from your parents.

The band would strike up the state song MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME. I noticed that last year it appeared that most were not singing, maybe the lyrics were not on the program sheets or many were not from Kentucky. The old tune has bittersweet words – By ‘n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door, weep no more my lady, oh, weep no more, today. We will sing one song for my old Kentucky home far away. When Stephen Foster wrote it in 1853, there surely were days of hard times for everyone. While some lived lavishly, others barely made it from day today. Typhoid fever, tubercular disease, cholera, smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, syphilis, and consumption stalked and carried away the rich and poor alike. Life was short, but 167 years later we only read about such a time shortly before the Civil War… In our time the Lord has been good.

My parents could remember the Great Depression when jobs were nonexistent and you were fortunate to live on a farm. My dad often told the story of the man who went to see his doctor. He told the doctor he was feeling poorly. The doctor asked him what he was eating. “All we have to eat is peas.” The doctor said. “That’s your problem, your blood has turned to pea soup!”

The song of that day was -THEY USED TO TELL ME I WAS BUILDING A DREAM, AND SO I FOLLOWED THE MOB WHEN THERE WAS EARTH TO PLOW, OR GUNS TO BEAR, I WAS ALWAYS RIGHT THERE ON THE JOB. THEY USED TO TELL ME I WAS BUILDING A DREAM, WITH PEACE AND GLORY AHEAD, WHY SHOULD I BE STANDING IN LINE, JUST WAITING FOR BREAD? SAY, DON’T YOU REMEMBER, I’M YOUR PAL? BUDDY, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?

I doubt that there were many in the crowd the last May 7th at the 131st running that really know what an “a hard time-come knockin at the door” means. We truly live in the greatest country on this green earth. It is humbling to remember when times were not so good.

That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 23

O Beulah land, sweet Beulah! As on the highest mount I stand. I look away across the sea Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory shore, My heaven, my home forevermore. (lyrics from SACRED SELECTIONS)

In closing, I saw this wise adage posted in a store, Do Not Resent Growing Old. Many Are Denied The Privilege …
(Irish Blessing)

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The Cracked Acorn: Alien Form

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Friends, can’t do without them. They are there when we need them for advice and comfort and just there for us to blow off steam. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and pop up when we least expect them.

My friends have recently tried to convince me that it is time for me to get cable or satellite television. So far I have received enough broadcast(free) outside antenna tv to supply my need for news and entertainment and I find it most conducive for taking naps. I would miss my outside forays to the rooftop for maintenance and seeing the world from a larger and different angle. I have noticed that up there, I am invisible, people out walking never look up and wave or wonder who that nut is!.

It has been said that tv is a vast wasteland, could it be more vast via cable or satellite, 250 or more channels to surf? Anyway, ALF is back, alive and well with his own LIVE TALK SHOW on cable. ALF was never alive (a puppet) was on many years ago. Alien life form(ALF) does not take the most beautiful form, by society’s standards. I don’t think that I would like to meet up with him in a dark alley. He likes cats, and not for petting. He has a long segmented snout ending in a large bulbous nose, has obviously sharp teeth, cute pointy ears, large eyes with thick lashes. He arrived crashing through a suburban roof and “adopted” by the residents. Their mission was never to let anyone see ALF in the day or at night. The writers supplied lots of scripts where ALF would venture into the night in many disguises. In one he was delivering pizza. He knocks on the door and a lady opens it and fumbles for change. We soon realize that she is blind. ALF returns and returns and becomes her friend. They eat popcorn and ALF talks a lot about cats. They enjoy each other’s company never sharing the secret that only the audience knows.

For 33 years I bought newspapers and magazines at the U.S. Geological Survey Store managed by Jim Carroll. He was blind but knew my voice and always remembered my name. I would joke and sometimes assist by identifying stacked bundles of newspapers whether they were The POST or other newspapers. I could look like ALF, John Wayne, or Cyndi Lauper, but it didn’t mattered.

Somehow we were drawn together by some unknown reason.

Just As I Am, poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing, of the mind,Yea, all I need in Thee to find.
(Charlotte Elliot – (w. 1834)Sacred Selections)

From an early age I have loved the church and the people who love the Lord because I know the reason.

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. (John 3:16, see Romans 5:8;I John 4:9)

I leave you with this question, “Is God blind?” I know the shocking answer, but do you? Send me your answer.

ALF – Live Long and Prosper

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The Cracked Acorn: The Man of Calvary

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“In today’s culture, some people think it is not proper to tell others they are wrong. Many believe all religions are equal and the Bible contains legends as charming as the stories of other great faiths. Children are allowed to believe in all or none of many teachings. Many people believe they can make it to heaven on their own or that always lead to God. What is the result of this freedom?” from OPEN WINDOWS-Life Way

The preceding came from a denominational magazine in a local doctor’s office, I thought it noteworthy to quote it.

Many of the religions are advocating that we all should find a middle ground and come together to bind us all together in one faith and one religious person. This may be a good thought but what does it accomplish in the sight of our God and Savior and the Scriptures.

A former supervisor loved to tell one of his college experiences. The lecturing professor had been underway for most of the hour, writing formulas all over the blackboards, for some reason my boss said loudly “That is all wrong!” The professor turned and asked, “Who said that?” Bill sheepishly raised his hand and the professor said: “You may leave for today and you don’t have to take the next exam.”

The professor had been writing mathematical nonsense waiting for someone to stop him. The religious world is putting us to the test. Lately, we have noticed that if you quote a Scripture to a friend or someone interested in what you believe, the response is “Where did you get that?” – well, it came from the Word of God, the Bible, the Scriptures, we didn’t make that up!!! or the reply can be “From what version or translation are you using?” There was a time when brethren used only the King James Version, not anymore.

One of the recent obituaries in the metro paper listed the passing of one of the most noted Biblical translators of this age. She had degrees in all the ancient languages that had formed the first written Bible. Her last efforts were to clarify the Revised Standard Version for modern mankind. How much clearer can we make God’s Word for everyone out on the street today is either a figurative or literal question?

The Church Of Christ has always taken the stance of “speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent when the Bible is silent.” We have to be alert lest we are speared by the sharp point of our intelligence and let the chance go by to say “That is wrong.”

Following: Ancient Poem
If the world is in us, can that likeness see, The Man of Calvary?
Can the world see Jesus in me?
Can the world see Jesus in you?
Does your love to Him ring true,
And your life and service, too?
Do we love, with love to His own akin,
All His creatures lost in the mire of sin?
Will we reach a hand, whatsoever it cost,
To reclaim a sinner lost?
As an open book they our lives will read,
To our words and acts giving daily heed;
Will they be attracted, or turn away,
From the Man of Calvary?

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The Cracked Acorn: Back When

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Give me that old-time religion, It’s good enough for me.   (circa 1878)

One of our sons very young at the time liked to ask me to tell him about the olden days. At that time I did not feel that old but I went ahead and tried to relate to him what it was like to live in the olden days. The rural Kentucky area where I grew up provided within a short drive less than 30 minutes to all the shopping you could afford then. The little town of Auburn was about 5 miles from the house. Its sign boasted that “Auburn is big enough to serve you and small enough to know you.” It had the drugstore, doctor’s office, and grocery store and barbershop. If we needed more variety, it was 15 miles to the county seat of Simpson County, the larger town of Franklin.

Church worship service, most of the time opened with Give Me The Bible, and we sang all four verses. Later, songbooks omit this verse: “Give me the Bible, all my steps enlighten, Teach me the dangers of these realms below; That lamp of safety o’er the gloom shall brighten, That light alone the path of peace can show.” The only Bible for the scripture reading and referring to while the preacher was in the pulpit for 45 minutes was the King James version of 1611. Today, the translations and versions in English and other languages are almost numberless. Many missionaries have the task of selecting a BIBLE that is translated into the country’s language and easily understood by that population. I count 6 versions in my office which I often refer to see if certain words have been changed or edited out for supposedly better meaning.

The worship service like today ended by extending an invitation for baptism or for prayer on someone’s behalf. For years baptisms in the summer were done in a nearby creek, and in winter in the nearby town in a church that had a baptismal pool; I and a neighbor were baptized in it The old creek is gone; a new landowner changed its direction and gone is the willow tree and the steps down into the water.

Priscilla J. Owens (1829-1907) was a Sunday school teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, and taught in the public schools for a half-century. She was a member of a denominational church and most of her hymns were written for her Sunday school class. The year 1878 when Give Me The Bible was written was a quiet year noted only by the world event, the rise of Joseph Stalin-as Premier of the Soviet Union.

A child’s problem:

One afternoon a little boy was playing outdoors. He used his mother’s broom as a horse and had a wonderful time until it was getting dark.

He left the broom on the back porch. His mother was cleaning up the kitchen when she realized that her broom was missing. She asked the little boy about the broom, and he told her where it was.

She then asked him to please go get it. The little boy informed his mom that he was afraid of the dark and didn’t want to go out to get the broom.

His mother smiled and said, “The Lord is out there too, don’t be afraid.” The little boy opened the back door a little and said: “Lord if you’re out there, hand me the broom.”

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The Cracked Acorn: Thinking

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Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

I am thinking about “thinking” this week. With the quick advancement and application of technology to all our needs and wishes, thinking has taken a blow to the neural system. Oh, I don’t mean the kind of thinking that leads to those really good jobs and a promotion or maybe a pat on the back for work well done. In my past work life, I enjoyed the thinking that went into writing programs that solved surveying problems and made fast searches of databases, far quicker than one could ever turn pages or apply the Helen Wood Speed Reading Method.

No, I am thinking of “thinking” as I mentioned before, this is not irrational or rational thinking, but random thinking- the kind that lacks any definite plan or order or purpose. Random thinking does not have an assigned value or may not mean anything at all, it just exists for the moment and then is gone. Thinking does not solve any or all or even the smallest of our worries or lend itself to any of our pleasures..one of the tenants’ girls that gathered with me at the school bus once told me that I could get into trouble for doing my own thinking. Does that mean that we should get others to help us do our own thinking…eh?…this is a question to ponder.

Random thinking may appear to be nonsense or lackadaisical unprecedented thoughts. People that can think in a random fashion may have fewer problems understanding the outside world. This type of thinking may not have a definite aim or purpose and is not sent or guided in a particular direction; it should occur without our prompting. Random thoughts have no weight and may not have a value or a defined direction; they happen and go off into space on an indefinite and infinite and undefined path of travel, even if space is curved, such thoughts have their own way.

Martin Luther believed that there was nothing random in understanding the Bible. As an outcome, he believed that free will was limited to low-level human decisions. So when one sins against another, they are limited on how to respond through forgiveness and loving actions. To sum up, he believed that unbounded randomness is severely limited to the point that our behaviors that are patterned and ordered step in and that is the end on anything close to a random response.

Donald Knuth from Stanford remarked that God exerts dynamic control over the world without violating any laws of science, and it suggests that what appears to be random to humans may not, in fact, be so random. “We may not agree with Martin or Donald about their views but know that God does not operate from a base of chaos or spin a wheel to decide that some random action or decision should be taken. If God then does not do the aforementioned, then out of the window goes the “theory” of evolution.”

Maybe it is time to go out on a hillside somewhere and unclutter our minds of why the sky is blue or why fish cannot swim backward or why if I eat enough green vegetables will it make me any smarter or why isn’t yodeling a written language or if the Bible is so clearly written then why are there in today’s society, so many various translations of God’s Word.

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