It is one word in the English language that I have never come to grips with, “Good-Bye!” Before I can say it, there’s the moistening of the eyes and a slight tightening of the throat, the cords hunt for the sounds that mean separation for a time or longer. A look out the window helps to pull one’s self together to say that word not often said, “Good-Bye!”
Now that we have all had a touch of frost, the air does seem cleaner and crisp. Early on weekday mornings, I might hear the train whistle at the Haymarket crossing. It’s that lonesome sound that reminds me of my youth when trains stopped in every town to pick up mail and passengers.
When I was maybe 5 years old, I was with my mother when she took my aunt to nearby Auburn, Kentucky to catch the L&N (Louisville and Nashville) to Louisville. We waited in the station room until we heard the whistle and the clanging bell, smoke, and steam as the train pulled to a stop at the station’s back door. We are all familiar with airports, but I don’t think many are with train stations. At the airport, it is a quick hug and then off but with trains, it seems you have an eternity to say “good-bye”. You can wave at boarding and even while the train gathers speed to leave for the big city.
The Hawaiians’ “aloha” may be a better word which means hello and good-by or farewell. Aloha says thank you for sharing your life, energy, and breath with us, and thank you for making us aware that we are all family. Good-bye, so I found in the dictionary, is an alteration of God be with you, suggesting an unknown break of time till we see each other again, and during that period we will need God’s protection and assurance that all will work out for those leaving and for those who remain.
“I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words that the Lord Jesus himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” When Paul finished, he knelt down with them all and prayed. They were all crying as they hugged Paul and kissed him goodbye. They were especially sad at the words he had said that they would never see him again. And so they went with him to the ship. We said goodbye to them and left. (ACTS 20: 35-21:1) TODAY’S ENGLISH VERSION
The Cracked Acorn: A Jewel
If you want fickle weather, try the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Shemya Island would be a good start. Rain, snow, high winds, and even a bit of sunshine go through the daily blender of some of the world’s noted fits thrown by Mother Nature. I know. For the better part of a year in the 60s, I headed a team that did passive satellite photographic operations (SATTRACK). Since outside work required a clear night sky, we often had lots of time on our hands. I became very acquainted with the airmen that were barracked in the composite building that housed the mess hall and recreational activities.
We had one clear day a month when we could go beach combing on Shemya Island. At the water’s edge, you could find what looked like round gemstones. These were really pieces of Coca-Cola and Clorox bottles left over from the WWII airstrip occupation of the island. This bit of real estate was a treasure of junk and stuff left behind by the hundreds of military troops and their dependents. A daily magnet was run over the island’s roads to pick up nails. Flat tires were very common. You never carried a spare but had the motor pool come out and install a fresh tire.
One of the airmen at our daily coffee table had picked up a Bering Sea polished piece of Clorox bottle. He called it his Australian teardrop; he thought it was washed up on that side of the island. It was very pretty with a tiny trapped bubble inside. He had taken it to the gem shop and mounted it in a necklace. His roomie wound up with it, never told of its ancient history. I remember the morning that we were shown stateside photos of the roomie’s fiancée. She was posed in her best with a fur pieced coat and the teardrop necklace. I wonder today where the teardrop is. It may have become an heirloom or in an antique shop. If a jeweler has looked at it he would know instantly it was just a piece of brown glass and didn’t know that this once worthless stone has gone through 20 years plus, where it was polished by the world’s worst turbulent weather.
Christ saw the multitudes that followed Him like so many teardrops. This is seen in Matthew 5:1-16. He knew their hearts as He knows ours today. Life will polish us and if we are faithful to Him, we shall become that polished stone that has lasting beauty.
“Master, the tempest is raging! The billows are tossing high! The sky is o’er shadowed with blackness, No shelter or help is nigh; Carest Thou not that we perish? How canst Thou lie asleep, When each moment so madly is threat’ning A grave in the angry deep?” The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will, Peace be still! They all shall sweetly obey Thy will, Peace, Be still! Peace, peace, be still! (from SACRED SELECTIONS) – Mark 4:39
The Cracked Acorn: The Good Old Days
We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, & the melons, & the leeks, & the onions, & the garlic. – Numbers 11:5
One of our sons every now and would ask me to tell him 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 even childhood infections that were killers to the older ones.
There was the church or rather 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 put together and delivered. That is still done today, not as much maybe, food stamps and charity agencies have assisted. 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 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 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 times 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 AM1100, theme)
No one ever asks about the growing of tobacco. It is a delicate plant and many hours have to be given to it from the tiny sprouted seed until months later, its cured leaves go to the market floor and sold.
My sister and I agree that it was with our help that the family was able to get through the hardest of times. If a hail storm damaged all the crops, it surely ended the tobacco crop for that year. Tenant farmers raised tobacco on the shares and it was their Christmas money, shopping: toys, clothing, and a bit of holiday entertainment to the movie or a trip to visit distant relatives.
A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagonload of corn. The farmer who lived nearby heard the noise and yelled over to the boy,
“Hey Willis, forget your troubles. Come in and visit with us. I’ll help you get the wagon up later. That’s mighty nice of you,”
Willis answered, “But I don’t think Pa would like me to.”
“Aw come on boy,” the farmer insisted.
“Well okay,” the boy finally agreed, and added, “But Pa won’t like it.”
After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked his host. “I feel a lot better now, but I know Pa is going to be real upset.”
“Don’t be foolish!” the neighbor said with a smile. “By the way, where is he?”
“Under the wagon.”
The Cracked Acorn: Growing Old
Psalm 90:10, NIV: “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” … Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away.”
We all want to live as long as possible. The Scripture promises 3 score and ten, 70 years old but just might be longer. As birth certificates have recorded persons who have lived longer, consider the following:
“Only one person has ever been verified to live to be over 120 years. Jeanette Calment from France died August 4th, 1997, living to be 122 years & 164 days. At the time of her death, she was also the only one in the world who had met Vincent van Gogh in person. That means every single person at the time of her birth in the entire world died before she did. Scary thought, isn’t it?
At age 90, with no heirs, she signed a contingency contract with her 47-year-old apartment lawyer saying he would pay a monthly fee of 2500 francs until she died. He probably didn’t expect Calment would live another 32 years. He ended up paying Calment the equivalent of $211, 148.90 which was double the value of the apartment. When he later died aged 77, his widow continued the payments until Calment’s death.” (Wikipedia)
The life expectancy in the USA is now 79.8 years. If you expect to join the club of centenarians, I would suggest you avoid stress. Research of the above person, notes she led a simple life & without stress. Also, she did not have any chronic health problems & lived in a time not having the serious viruses we are experiencing now.
It does not hurt to not clean your plate as I was told to do when I grew up on the farm, there were 3 big meals about every day. No one went to the doctor unless it was a threatening accident. When someone died, many would say it was cancer, which is still with us.
Some believe in the future all diseases, and such will be conquered. When the baseball legend Ted Williams passed on, his head was sealed in a cryonics chamber, to wait for the day he would be thawed and cured and get a new body.
Meanwhile, those of us left behind are trying to eat healthily & avoid too much sunshine & drive a very large vehicle to avoid dying in a crash with another; we hope with a smaller car. With all this, don’t forget to have lots of insurance for health checks and for unexpected air transports to the best hospitals (when all else fails!)
Mercedes years ago advertised every engine was run full throttle for 30 minutes, I don’t see that anymore. I am sure the company found out it caused lots of stress on the moving parts. An employee I worked with, was going to drive her teens to school; she went, warmed up the car, blew the horn, and raced the engine to get the children’s attention to come to the car; you guessed it all this blowing the horn and racing the engine broke the timing belt.
So, on a human it works the same way…eventually, something will happen to one’s body, to live a long life, eliminate the stress, it is at the top of the list. AMEN!
The Cracked Acorn: Boys
Nearly thirteen, I contracted a viral flu-like disease that kept me bedridden for two weeks. I was delirious and kept a high temperature, causing a loss of my hair. The doctor came to our farmhouse and administered a new drug on the market, called penicillin. It saved my life; I did not realize how close my life was threatened and went on living due to this miracle drug.
BLUE RIVER is a movie definitely not aimed at amusement. It will leave you disturbed as I was. Ninety minutes about disturbed young “men” are not often on the mark; this one caused me to reflect on my school years because I have seen two examples that this movie could have used. Boys in the wonder years, a time when a youth enters the maze or sieve to emerge on the other side transformed into an adult. During this period, you may hear, “Boys will be boys!”, “He’s really a good kid.”, “Mischief is a part of it, he’ll grow out of this.”, “Give him space, and you’ll see him amount to something.”, and the “Military will straighten him out!”
Franklin was our comic on the long school bus rides; we laughed when he could imitate others, teachers, and our drivers. Adults were often not amused. He could be very serious, taking part in school plays, like the role of the father of a juvenile delinquent. After graduation, he was accepted into NROTC. This was brief, the navy decided that they did not need any future officers with lots of humor and no openings for a stand-up comic. He married and started a family. I saw him at an early high school class reunion. He came in late and appeared to be eager to leave. I barely had a passing moment to say “hello.” A few months after I had returned to Virginia, I heard that he had committed suicide.
Donnie was a nearby farm buddy. His mother was in poor health. Mom took me along for visits. He had a fascination for the big kitchen matches, used daily to start the kitchen stove and fireplaces. I think he liked the sudden explosion and the bright flame. At other times, he could do crazy things on the farm equipment. From this, it was a trip to Florida in a ‘borrowed’ milk truck. He began to travel the roads and liked being a part of a crew that was fighting western forest fires. He died in his early twenties of tuberculosis.
The world missed out on having a comic, great actor, a NASCAR driver, a smokejumper, or a possible expert on explosives. Today, I am sure things would have been different; we will never know!
A man came to Jesus and got on his knees. He said, “Lord, have pity on my son. He is very sick and at times loses the use of his mind. Many times he falls into the fire or into the water. I took him to Your followers, but they were not able to heal him.” Then Jesus said, “You people of this day have no faith, and you are going the wrong way. How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” Matthew 17th chapter, 14-17. (from TODAY’S ENGLISH version)
The Cracked Acorn: Angels
A friend in an act of kindness gave my deceased wife a small angel statue that can display wings of different colors; it’s very impressive. Of course, we do not know what these spiritual beings created to be messengers and stand in the presence of God really look like. They took a form to visit Abraham (Genesis 18) and one wrestled with Jacob(Genesis 32). Books upon books have been written on the subject of angels.
TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL ran for 9 seasons on TV and made all the actors very rich. In the holiday season, many stores will be selling articles pertaining to angels. If you do get to discuss angels with someone while shopping, be prepared for a fully functioning system that angels are essential to our modern society.
The following are a few questions people have posted on the internet:
(1) Have you ever met a supernatural messenger or envoy?
(2) When you heard someone speak about meeting angels, did you think they were weird?
(3) What do you think an angel feels when humans reject its message?
(4) If you believe that angels exist and act in our world, how should you live your life?
(5) What image do you think of when you see angels portrayed at Christmas?
Are angels sent forth today as ministering spirits to mankind would be the question to answer?
The whole concept is that this would be a miraculous event, but miracles have ended (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; Ephesians 4:8-16). Since the supernatural stage no longer exists, so God employs angels to implement his will on the behalf of his saints in today’s world. It cannot be proven today angels appear in the human form as in ancient times (Acts 10). BUT in extreme times of danger, this should not stop us from praying that God will intervene on our behalf (Daniel 3:19-25).
What children say and think about angels:
“My guardian angel helps me with math, but he’s not much good for science.”
“Angels don’t eat, but they drink milk from Holy Cows!”
“Angels taking us to heaven talk about what went wrong before you got dead.”
“Angels live in cloud houses made by God’s son who is a carpenter.”
“All angels are girls because they’re always wearing dresses.”
“I can’t understand why an angel would shoot an arrow through someone in love.”
“My grandma is an angel helping me while here on earth.”
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
The bed be blest that I lie on.
Four angels to my bed.
Four angels round my head,
One to watch, and one to pray,
And two to bear my soul away.”
The Cracked Acorn: Attendance
A comedian once said that all through grade school, he sat behind ‘”Whimpering Charlie”. When Charlie didn’t come to school, I 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 your parents to get you to school in all kinds of weather. A two-foot snow might close schools. At the end of the year, attendance awards were given.
After worship 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.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 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. we are getting the television news from our recliners.
This is interesting! A past issue of U.S. News & World Report stated that Europe in a century of time could become non-religious and enter the banning of religious symbols and the failure to find Christianity anywhere in the populace. Humanism has given rise to the worst ideologies of the 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 have claimed hundreds of thousands of youngish 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. So, “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. (lyrics – SACRED SELECTION HYMNS)