God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm. – William Cowper, 1722.
The date is November 26, 1939, another hard winter. Two brothers had married two sisters and we all lived in a tenant farmhouse, was log and then covered with weatherboarding, it was big enough for an added bedroom up a small stairway back of the only heat – the fireplace. Those were the days, we lived without electricity and telephone and anything else that we expect today.
When I was 4 days old, Russia invaded and tried to cross in deep winter on frozen lakes and surprise Finland; my father often remarked about this short war (the WINTER WAR). The reason; when the Russians were out on the ice, the Finns dynamited it and that was that for a while. Dad often remarked about this thru the years. Farming is daily devoted work and not that exciting, I guess this is why he often remarked about this bit of history and laughed. I never asked where he got this and why he was amazed at past history. Now, I think it was from our battery radio, bought from Sears, Roebuck via the mail.
Farming is different now and machines have taken over, not many laborers are left in the wide-open spaces. I now have outlived most of the ones I knew back when. Most late nights I go into town and get the morning newspaper, often have to wait and I listen to WMAL radio and hear how the Space Station is doing and how vaccines are wonderful to get.
A few days ago, WMAL covered WW2 and noted that Russia only protected their homeland and did well at that. It mentioned the 1939 ”Winter War” between Russia and Finland, I thought of Dad and listened to what the following remarks would be: The Finns had just blown the ice and got the Russians really badly, only 3 survivors and the Finns had them in tow. A Russian asked the Finns, “I guess now you will shoot us?” The reply was, “Oh no!” The 2nd Russian asked, “I know you will shoot us?” again the Finns, “No, we will give you food and medical, you will not be shot.” The 1st Russian then asked, “Will you loan me a gun?’, the Finns handed him a gun which he took and turned, shot the 3rd Russian – who was a political officer. (my eyes glistened, father would have really enjoyed that bit of humor.)
This action between the 2 countries ended in a draw. Russia thought it was not worth the great efforts to win.
When World War 2 came, Hitler’s army made it an additional front to invade Russia and it would all be over by deep winter. Of course, it never happened, Russia waited and let the hard winter of deep snow and ice stop the invaders. Past history must have been a lesson Russia never forgot.
Oh, the depth of the riches and the knowledge of GOD… – Romans 11:33
The Cracked Acorn: The Season
We knew it was coming and we had 365 warnings.
The season has begun and we are hearing JINGLE BELLS, FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, and THE CHIPMUNKS more times than we wish to remember. Maybe this is the reason that we do not sing these songs in the summer. THE GRINCH, CHARLIE BROWN, and A CHRISTMAS CAROL have been on TV. We older folks may know what “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” means or know if “reindeer can really fly” and we tell no one! Before the season ends you may want to say BAH! HUMBUG to all the holiday tunes and shopping! “You’re a mean one, you really are a heel. You’re cuddly as a cactus, you’re charming as an eel. I wouldn’t touch you, with a thirty-nine-and-a- half foot pole MR. GRINCH!!
My neighbors used the warmer hours to put up outside decorations and to put Santa and the reindeer on the roof even if they do not have a chimney. While all this is happening, some are still on their mowers trying to chase down that elusive leaf and mulch it. Roofing is going on and painting and patching, could they know something that I don’t know?
Our snow plowman is retiring. No one has stepped forward to replace him. I am praying for no snow or a very light one. I hear that in China everyone turns out with a shovel and presto the snow is gone. Ha!, a billion chances that will ever happen here.
Where did I put my happy face? I am trying to get into the season’s spirit and remember what it was like when I was a child. We found our tree to decorate in the woods. All the shopping was done on Christmas Eve. Most of the time we did have snow and the very cold.
The relatives would all come to my grandmother’s large country house and we had a big meal. I always liked to hear stories about the “old days.” Getting through the winter was quite a challenge. Homes were not well heated as they are today. Wood and coal were the favorite fuels and required some tending and daily cleanup. You never heard anyone complain about high fuel bills it all depended on a trip to the woods or a trip to the coal dump.
We have come a long way! Back then the word “mall” had yet to enter our language. Every generation likes to tell the younger one what it was like way back then and they will in turn do the same. It would be nice to stick around and be here 100 years from now to see if people then will still enjoy a good season of holiday cheer and well-wishing.
Christmas is not really the reason for the season but it still catches the attention of people who do not have one thought of Christ at any other time of the year. I sigh with relief that at the end of the year I find little baby Jesus is still there in the manager and I, my fellow Christians and friends have lived another eventful and fruitful year in the world’s best nation blessed by God.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace. “ (Numbers 6:24-26)
The Cracked Acorn: Cold Cut
When did you last hear someone say, “Oh, that is a lot of baloney!”
I was placing an order at the delicatessen for a 1/4 pound of a popular cold cut sandwich meat when I recalled that we always called it “baloney.” The real name is bologna. You remember OSCAR MAYER promoted it in a TV jingle – “OSCAR MAYER has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A.” This helped children to spell it correctly.
When I was in grade school the cafeteria made good use of baloney, placed between two slices of white bread swimming in amply applied mayonnaise. You could expect this a few days a week with a side of Spanish rice. I don’t ever remember anyone getting food poisoning from just eating baloney by itself; it travels well because of the several spices, salt, vinegar, sugar, and secret curing processes. Baloney is the main staple of our world. Its origin is from the Roman city of Bologna. Italians call it mortadella cured with pistachios. If you are thinking of making a sandwich it is probably going to have a slice of it hidden among lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. Whatever is leftover from chicken, beef, pork, and veal scraps are found in the common American brand of bologna. I was given a free slice at the deli and I still found it delicious and filling. I did feel the biological clock running faster(Psalm 90:10); it does not fall into the class of healthy foods.
From its scrappy nature is derived the slang word “baloney.” This can be stretched to mean lies, trash, nonsense, and unreliable and unworthy natures – not to be entangled with or fooled around with any sincereness. If you tell someone face to face that they are full of baloney, you should have your dukes up or be running at the time.
The origin of cured meats probably goes back to when armies were formed and laid siege to walled cities. It may have helped to create the Roman Empire and give us part of our rich heritage. The Romans have been credited with founding a senate-type government. They built roads to connect their conquered lands and aqueducts to add to the water supply. Buildings have stood the test of time due to their discovery of cement. We do not speak Latin but once upon a time it was required for certain professions.
The spread of Christianity was aided by the roads built by the Romans. Paul traveled the Appian Way to Rome; this road exists today (Acts 28:15). In Acts, he was about to be beaten and let it be known that he was a Roman citizen. He had bought this and asked to be treated as such under Roman law (Acts 22:27). Much of the New Testament falls under the time of the Roman Empire.
A campaign slogan by a woman running for office in Portland, Oregon in the 1930s was “Don’t mix your taffy with your baloney and applesauce, and the kisses will take care of themselves.” I never had taffy and baloney together, applesauce – yes! Politics must have been different in those days.
The Cracked Acorn: The Future
Our sons often asked me to tell them of the “old days.” I told them how I lived on a farm and we depended on crops and livestock to give us income. Drought, disease, too much rain, and high winds could seriously damage a good crop of corn and wheat. Agriculture is the one big industry quickly affected by changes in weather.
Those who watch weather patterns predict that more and more hurricanes will come ashore and head farther north. One I remember left us without power for four days. It took me back to my childhood when we depended on kerosene lamps and cooked over wood stoves. This could happen again.
We have no other choice but to live in this physical world that God created for us. It may not always behave the way we wish. We cannot live in straw houses set upon a sandy beach.
ALL WHO LISTEN TO MY INSTRUCTIONS AND FOLLOW THEM ARE WISE, LIKE A MAN WHO BUILDS HIS HOUSE ON SOLID ROCK. THOUGH THE RAINS COME IN TORRENTS, AND THE FLOODS RISE AND THE STORM WINDS BEAT AGAINST HIS HOUSE, IT WON’T COLLAPSE, FOR IT IS BUILT ON ROCK. BUT THOSE WHO HEAR MY INSTRUCTIONS AND IGNORE THEM ARE FOOLISH, LIKE A MAN WHO BUILDS HIS HOUSE ON SAND. FOR WHEN THE RAINS AND FLOODS COME, AND STORM WINDS BEAT AGAINST HIS HOUSE, IT WILL FALL WITH A MIGHTY CRASH. (Matthew 7:24-27)
The crowd who heard these words from Jesus was amazed at his wisdom.
Several million people live within the shadow of the world’s most historically deadly volcano at Vesuvius, Italy. One of its violent eruptions in 79 A.D. described by Pliny the Younger buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Within a period of 19 hours, these two towns were buried in ash and the inhabitants were caught in the gas and cinders. Yet, today within the shadow of this violent volcano, smoking and sending out tremors, people carry on their daily lives as if this goes with the territory. Mass evacuations have not taken place. Volcano watchers note that there are no signs of unrest at Vesuvius at the present time. An estimated one million people live in the area of past eruptions.
Man has always been tempted to dream of gigantic projects and carry them to conclusions. The tallest building is never the limit. The biggest canal is never wide enough for our huge tankers. The oceans once beyond our reach are being dived into and harvested for their minerals. In the long term, it is now Mars. How far is “how far” and what are the limits of infinity; I am sure a scientist has an answer for all the preceding.
“When we behold the wonders of creation, The flowers that bloom the raindrops as they fall; The spacious skies and life’s perpetuation, We cannot doubt that God controlled it all. No finite mind, by mortal calculation Could frame the Truths revealed within His Word; In every trace of nature’s operation, Thy voice, O God, in mystery can be heard. Lord, I believe, yes, I believe, I cannot doubt or be deceived; The eye that sees each sparrow fall is in it all.” (from Sacred Selections)
The Cracked Acorn: Prayer
On an early past morning foray into town to get the newspaper, I tuned to THE HAPPY CHURCH broadcasting from inside the metro beltway. At this early hour probably not many were awake to hear the minister’s comments, one especially was that we will never win the war in Iraq. This was surely food for thought. World War I and II were won with world support, not so with Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. We can overwhelm countries with our military might but can we truly win the hearts and minds of their people. Our President has unleashed a series of “tar babies” that will not go away. How do we go about winning such a nation’s love and respect, planeloads of foreign aid, lots of Peace Corps workers; all this helps, but where is the bottom line, will it ever be resolved, hate for hate, car bombs for guided missiles, innocent lives have gone in the debris of human priorities.
We may not have the opportunity to visit other countries but we can still avail ourselves of the 24/7 prayer to our heavenly Father. The world has lost the right of prayer, and saints have failed to pray; What loss sustained beyond repair! How blind of the heart are they! The Father speaketh in His Word He talks no other way! And to converse with Him, our Lord, We must take time to pray! Pray in the morning, Pray at the noontime, Pray in the evening, Pray anytime; Pray when you’re happy, Pray when in sorrow, Pray when you’re happy, Pray when you’re tempted, Pray all the time.(Songs of Faith And Praise#821)
“Be joyful always; pray continually.” – I Thessalonians 5:16-17. And Psalm 4:2,3 “Sons of men, How long will your hearts be heavy? Why do you seek for vain things? Why do you run after illusions? Know that the Lord has done marvelous things for those he has chosen. When I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.” Let us put into every prayer, that our Father in heaven will resolve these conflicts so that world peace becomes a reality.
“The commercial trans-Pacific flight was in trouble. The winged behemoth was developing engine problems and the nearest airport remained several hours away. The co-pilot had gone back to give the bad news to the passengers, they may have to ditch in the open sea; he had the stewardesses pass out the life jackets and give instructions on their use, should it come to that. Seat belts were checked and life vests were donned. The drink cart was pushed one last time down the aisle, offering free cocktails. She stopped at one seat where a man was bowed as best as he could, hands devoutly pressed together, obviously in prayer. “Sir, would you like a drink?”. He paused to look up, “No thanks, I don’t have time for that!”
(THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY – 1950 movie with John Wayne & Robert Stack)
Matthew 6:33-34 (ESV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “ Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
The Cracked Acorn: Unbelief
John 14:1-31 – Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
My mother amazed me that she could cook up three farm meals a day; she was adept with the kitchen utensils. The old stand-by was the sieve to quickly drain off water from hot spaghetti or boiled vegetables. I was amazed at what the tiny holes could accomplish. I have often used the “sieve” to clear the air on some of today’s highly touted media topics.
“Millions of years ago ape-like animals lived their entire lives in trees, eating the abundant fruits and nuts. The climate began to change; droughts began to turn the environment from trees into vast plains of tall grass. In order for the ape-likes to survive, they began to spend more time on the ground. They had to see above the grass so they began to adapt by walking on two legs instead of four. Since they did not have keen eyesight, they began to develop a brain that could reason and outwit the larger animals. Soon this ape became ape man and after many more thousands of years became the man of today.”
This falls through the sieve, leaving “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” – Genesis 2:7
This in a few words is what our leading minds of today call evolution. There are many missing links in this chain of events that are waiting to be found. In the 1950s and 1960s, in some of the mental institutions, surgeries were performed on patients to relieve seizures and spells of depressions. These were called lobotomies. A large percentage were not successful but led to extensive search in the brain for memory. Recent research has found much more about our wonderful organ. If we have a mind that can give us a rich life, where then is our soul found in our brains? The sieve finds that the soul is God-given and “Oh, bless our God, you peoples! Who keeps our soul among the living, “– Psalm 66:8,9
One of the many surveys shows that there may be more than 30 million Americans that are on the fence about the existence of God. There are 6 million that declare that they are atheists and have an agenda to help people over their ideas that God is a part of our modern society. The New Age Atheists are doing well at the newsstands with “Letter to a Christian Nation” and “The God Delusion.” They are preaching the religion of reason not mentioning that the French Renaissance was based wrongly on reason. “Come let us reason together, includes the Lord our God and if we are made “white as snow” and “willing and obedient, we will eat the good of the land.” – Isaiah 1:18-21.
“A 2014 survey, self-identified “atheists” make up 3.1% of the US population, even though 9% of Americans agreed with the statement “Do not believe in God” while 2% agreed with the statement “Do not know if they believe in God”. (What would a 2021 survey show?)
The Cracked Acorn: Dye Stain
Yes! I remember when I got gravy on the best tie given to me by my piano teacher. It happened another time; it was a ballpoint pen in my shirt, leaked at the wrong time. It was taken to the cleaners and asked them to do their best. My father in the fifties worked as a knitter in a hosiery mill, making seamed ladies nylons. When they came off the machine they were white and had to be sent to the dyer. Here the hose was submerged in a vat for several hours to change the white to rose or beige or the latest colors that the market demanded. I was told that white nylon was the strongest and could be weakened by the dyes. Supposedly this art appeared in the Middle East about 5,000 years ago and our word “dye” is an English word.
In Biblical times, garments of beautiful colors were very expensive, both for the cloth and for the dyes. A garment signified importance or elevation in respect.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” (Genesis 37:3,4)
The Egyptians were the masters of color and the Hebrews may have brought this to perfection when the tabernacle was built. The Lord told them to “make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet” (Exodus 26:1),
“And they shall take gold, and blue, and scarlet, and fine linen. And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.” (Exodus 28:5,6) and in the vail “And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fined twined linen of cunning work.” (Exodus 26:31) This vail was torn when Christ was crucified. (Matthew 27:51)
Purple was seen as a royal color and desirable to buy, one of Paul’s converts at Thyatira was Lydia, a seller of purple.
Today, all these wonderful and bright colors are easily found on all our clothing. Some translators have attached meanings to certain colors, such as WHITE-purity and innocence; BLACK-mourning, affliction, and calamity; RED-bloodshed; PURPLE-royalty, luxury; BLUE-deity, sky, and heaven; SCARLET-war, valor; GREEN-life, youth, and abundance. The red, white, and blue are on our flag. The book of Esther is a “colorful” book of the Bible and worth reading and re-reading especially the description of the palace of King Ahasuerus.
Our hymnal has two songs that reflect color. BEAUTIFUL ROBES OF white, and BEHOLD A STRANGER AT THE DOOR! ‘Tis HE, With garments dyed at Calvary.
For gentlemen who still wear ties -remember it was said, “If your children see you get a spot on your tie they’ll send you to a nursing home!” Cure: wear bow ties!
May the good Lord bless an’ keep you, Whether near or far away. May you find that long-awaited, Golden day today. May your troubles all be small ones, And your fortune ten times ten, May the good Lord bless and keep you, ‘Til we meet again . . .