Deuteronomy 6:9 – You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Maybe you haven’t noticed it, but handwriting has entered a state of demise. I am not sure if we can blame it on doctors’ prescriptions or if this is a byproduct of the information age. Using a keyboard, your fingers can fly at amazing speeds conveying thoughts and facts that can be saved and edited over and over till every word and sentence is perfect. Try this with your ballpoint or your old fashion NO# 2 lead pencil. You will find that the words must stand in line while you make those graceful curves, slants, and spaces. Teachers are discovering that students would rather word process an essay rather than take the time to write one.
In grade school, I had to use a right-hand desk while I was trying to write left-handed. Fortunately, I was never pressured to change, so I developed my own style. Later, I found out that many left-handers wrote upside down and backward and did all kinds of contortions to perform the daily writing assignments. Maybe this is why “every year, 10 million letters end up undeliverable, in the dead letter boxes at post offices.” (Quote by Bill Bostick-Bingham Farms handwriting expert). I grew up hearing people say, “put your John Hancock” on this! His was the eligible and bold signature on the Declaration of Independence.
If we listen to the experts, handwriting began 3,000 or 8,000 years ago; take your pick. Ancient shells in China bear marks that could be symbols translated as “writing.” Present-day Iraq claims to be the home of handwriting. Those who follow the science of the earliest scribblings tell us that much more has to be unearthed before a positive answer is found. Will these findings tell us if the writer was “friendly, emotional, versatile, adaptable, flexible, agitated, stressful, intelligent, easygoing, theatrical, self-disciplined, a free thinker, cautious, generous and communicative? Handwriting is said to reveal some of these traits about them,
Finally, this old story, inspired maybe by Daniel. Chapter 5. A weary mother returned from the store, lugging groceries through the kitchen door. Awaiting her arrival was her 8-year-old son, anxious to relate what his younger brother had done.
“While I was out playing and Dad was on a call, T.J. took his crayons and wrote on the wall! It’s on the new paper you just hung in the den. I told him you’d be mad at having to do it again.”
She let out a moan and furrowed her brow, “Where is your little brother right now?” She emptied her arms, and with a purposeful stride, she marched to his closet, where he had gone to hide. She called his full name as she entered his room. He trembled with fear – he knew that meant doom! For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved about the expensive wallpaper and how she had saved.
Lamenting all the work it would take to repair, she condemned his actions and total lack of care. The more she scolded, the madder she got, then stomped from his room, totally distraught! She headed for the den to confirm her fears. When she saw the wall, her eyes flooded with tears. The message she read pierced her soul with a dart. It said, “I love Mommy,” surrounded by a heart.
The wallpaper remained, just as she found it, with an empty picture frame hanging to surround it. A reminder to her.
The Cracked Acorn: In a Hurry
Being retired! Time to lay back. Mow the lawn. Chop a few weeds out of the garden. It’s not always “The Life of Riley!”
Consider Monday, June 20th; it is 6 a.m. I had finished my morning coffee and chat session with my friends and was on the way from Warrenton to Manassas. The reason was the result of a Sunday flyer that discounted a large stereo TV. I can remember when 18″ was enough, but now we were marching towards a 32″. Traffic was at a snail’s pace. A snail would have made better time. *I finally diverted from 1-66 to take the road past the Stonewall Memory Garden and through the Manassas Battlefield. I received an extended view of the cemetery where many souls reposed, blissfully unaware of the chaos civilization hast wrought. I was given time to reflect and even envy them in their “sleep.”(I Thessalonians 4:14). Another mile brought me to the crossroads of the old stone house where the greater part of the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) was fought during a thunderstorm on Saturday, July 20, 1861. The stone house is where the surgeon amputated mangled arms and legs in an attempt to save lives. I forgot what discomfort I had at the moment.
Finally, I reached the promised land 45 minutes later, less than 20 miles, computed to be a speed of 3 miles per hour. I decided it was time to breakfast at a popular chain. I was seated, handed a menu, and left to grow old. I left. It was time for a gallon of deck paint at the world’s largest retailer. I was greeted, assisted, and left with a smile and a song in my heart to be abandoned next door by a home supplier. All I wanted was a bit of insulation for the attic. I began to tell myself that it was time to practice the Christian virtues that our minister, Phil Adams, had preached about on a few past Sunday mornings. (Hebrews 12:1-2) I began to feel better, breathing and respiration close to normal, and my blood pressure came down to an acceptable level. It was time to visit the TV store where I made a purchase and then waited nearly an hour at the wrong door for my pickup. I began to hum the lyrics to “the famous talking horse-MR. ED). I headed home only to be delayed by the train, crossing Route 29 at Gainesville. The cell phone rang. My loved one was worried. “I am not on a world tour and should be home before lunch.” A neighbor had promised to help me avoid my third hernia and help me lift the 100 lb. set into the rec room. He bailed out; he’s a policeman and was late for work. Caught in “what to do?” the neighbor’s son was available and mission completed. The rest of the afternoon was spent in painting the deck and waiting for the air conditioning serviceman. Late in the afternoon, I made an effort to take away a week’s trash but was 30 minutes too late. There was a full moon that night, and while I walked the dog, I fought off the urge to run howling about the neighborhood.
*”The Rhode Island Regiments retreated in good order, Many were without shoes and terrificed to death, some had yielded to exhaustion and were borne upon the shoulders of others who could scarcely walk themselves. All day long bodies of troops walked into the city in the pelting rain. Many of their officers killed, left ccmpanys who did not know where to go. My neighbor hurt three ribs when thrcwn from his horse. We have heard of the death of several of our friends but happy to learn that Col Flonter & his aid are safe.” (from the Mary Henry Diary of July 1861)
HOW BEAUTIFUL HEAVEN MUST BE, SWEET HOME OF THE HAPPY AND FREE; FAIR HAVEN OF REST FOR THE WEARY, HOW BEAUTIFUL HEAVEN MUST BE. (from SACRED SELECTIONS)
The Cracked Acorn: The Battle
When I was growing up, at church, the preacher would remind us that a battle was raging. It was the battle for our souls. The pulpit was pounded, and supporting scriptures were quoted. The battle still goes on and will never stop. The enemy is very clever and does not rest as we do. While we sleep, computers around the world are gathering information. Companies are interested in what we eat, wear, and buy. How we use what we buy is their main concern. They are establishing a predictable profile about all our society’s needs. The expanded markets want to reach our material and spiritual desires.
You may think that you are a private person. This would be true if you lived up a muddy road on the side of a 12,000-foot mountain and made and grew all you needed. Of course, you could not have a telephone or a cell phone or have any neighbors. Electricity would be a no! no! You would have to limit your connections to the outside world. The postman would put your mail in a post office box if you knew anyone with the P.O. address. This sounds good, no junk mail. I have left out one item that has invaded our homes: the personal computer (PC). This is a wonderful machine that does not “compute” but lives for e-mail and surfing the internet (the world wide web). You turn it on, and the world is your oyster if you like oysters.
Any personal device is like a child. It requires attention. It needs “medical” care. It needs protection. It will require you to seek out professional people to solve its quirks. It is a daily or weekly task to run scans using expensive software that you had to buy after you bought your “cheap” computer. This is necessary to keep hackers from slipping you a “Mickey” and putting it on the landfill heap. You have to make sure that the adware, the spamware, the spyware, and the firewallware are doing their jobs or every stroke of the keyboard and every file on the hard drive becomes public knowledge.
Information can influence the individual about what to place before the “window of our soul.” I saw this in a religious bookstore the past holiday season. The gospel now appears in many books, CDs, and videos. I was looking for a replacement Bible. We had decided that recovering was more expensive than purchasing a new one. On this very busy mid-morning shopping day in a large store in Manassas, I was amazed by the many translations and versions that populated the one Bible stand. I was even more amazed that out of the many prospective buyers, I was the only one shopping for a Bible. I could have picked one and stretched out on the floor and read it from cover to cover. All eyes were turned to LEFT BEHIND and PASSION OF THE CHRIST and books about the lives of the TV evangelists. Surely, I knew what Jesus felt when he saw what was going on in the temple. No one was interested in a good, sturdy-covered Bible. Ah, to be sure, the internet, etc., has done its job well and spread the gospel of the vast available warehouse of sugary religious Twinkies.
12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 12)
There’s a book that surpasses the sages, A volume of wisdom divine; And the glory that gleams from its pages, No splendor of earth can outshine. “Tis the light which will guide is to glory, The Sword of the Spirit of might; And to dwell on its beautiful story Is of heaven the sweetest delight. ‘TIS THE BIBLE! THE BIBLE! OUR GUIDING STAR THAT LEADS FROM EARTH TO HEAV’N, THE BIBLE! THE BIBLE! WE LOVE THE PRECIOUS BOOK OF TRUTH WHICH GOD HAS GIV’N. (#502 Sacred Selections)
The Cracked Acorn: Fall Fashions
It is almost the time again when the ladies’ fall fashions will be paraded out in the news media. I wonder what the models eat. Certainly, they do not have a BIG MAC or the all-you-can-eat bar. The subliminal message is that slimness is closely related to physical beauty.
Long ago, Iran: We had a satellite tracking site at the Tabriz University campus. We lived in the METROPOLE HOTEL, and an army truck with an Iranian sergeant was our driver. We were picked up in the morning and brought back to our hotel in the evening. One morning, the sergeant asked us to come over and watch him collect his winnings from the lottery. He then went to an adjacent kiosk and bought black and white pictures of large, fully clothed women staring and smiling into the camera. He thought this was the most. He showed them to us, and I noticed that there was not one who could fit into a size 4.
Remember, this is the Middle East. Health care is non-existent as it was in Biblical times. Women are required to do lots of manual labor and to bear strong and healthy children. This is very dangerous. Similac and Gerber are unknown. Women must nurse their children or find a “wet” nurse. God intervened in Exodus 2:7 by providing the real mother to continue to nurse Moses at the age of three months.
Genesis 24:16 And the damsel (Rebekah) was very fair to look upon, virgin never had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17-And the servant ran to meet her and said, Let me, I thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 19) And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they (ten camels) have done drinking. (A thirsty camel can drink 27 gallons in ten minutes.) Here, we have a young woman who is willing to draw this water in the heat of the day to be kind to a stranger. This would have been physically demanding, even for the strongest man. These qualities impressed the servant sent to find a wife for Isaac.
Genesis 29:16 And Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17) Leah was tender-eyed, but Rachel was beautiful and well-favored. 18a) And Jacob loved Rachel. 31) And the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. Leah could have been, by our standards of fashion, a small and very slim woman, while Rachel was Jacob’s dream of what a woman should be to bear lots of children and be a very physically fit person to handle the running of a large household. Again, this was the day of none of the modern conveniences that we have to keep the home running smoothly and also have our spare time “to find ourselves.” Again, the Lord knows best and blessed Leah, and Jacob had to learn the lesson of patience.
My brief visit was during the reign of Shah Pahlavi (married three times). His first wife bore no male heirs. Likewise, the second wife brought into the capitol city of Tehran the fashions of style and dress from Paris and New York. Many of the Iranian women with affordable means copied the Shah’s wife with her European dress and hairstyles. Beyond the major cities, the women still remained covered from the top of their heads to their feet.
10) Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 17) She girded her loins with strength and strengthened her arms. 19) She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 21) She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22) She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 27) She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28) Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (from Proverbs 31)
The Cracked Acorn: Answers
When I still worked, I learned to deal with the piles of printed paper and the general untidy space I ruled over. Now retired, I try to do the same in the “World’s Smallest Office!” On such an occasion, a piece of paper fell to the floor, and I looked over it and wondered who asked the questions that led to these ten answers.
Close your eyes and think of a situation that bothers you a lot; then I think there is an ‘answer” here to that!
1. God has said in Bible prophecy that terrible disasters, including pestilences or disease epidemics, would grow in frequency and in_tensity as the end of the age approaches—to shake people out of their complacency and lead them to seek Him Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:7-8; 16:2, 8-11.
2. Ecclesiastes 9:11 reveals that God allows many events to run their course according to “time and chance.” This means many tragedies are, for those affected, accidental and unforeseeable.
3. Christ made it clear that those who die in 1. God has said in Bible prophecy that terrible disasters, including pestilences or disease epidemics, would grow in frequency and in_tensity as the end of the age approaches—to shake people out of their complacency and lead them to seek Him Matthew 24:7; Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:7-8; 16:2, 8-11.
4. Personal tragedies or calamities are not necessarily the result of one’s sins John 9:2-3
5. Plagues and other disasters should humble us and lead us to repentance, helping us to see our dependence on God to sustain and deliver us 1 Kings 8:37-40; Revelation 16:8-11.
6. Some calamities are made worse by man’s poor judgments and age-long rejection of God and His laws, resulting in worsening environmental health and economic conditions Proverbs 14:12; 22:3; Matthew 7:24-27.
7. God is a truly loving God who is working out a great plan for all humanity John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Cor. 15:22-24.
8. We don’t know all the reasons God permits calamities or why people are made to suffer by them, but we should trust in God’s omniscience and ultimate wisdom. He knows how to work out what is best for everyone in the end Romans 8:28; 1 Timothy 2:4
9. When all of the followers of Christ are at last glorified, there will be no more pain, suffering, sorrow, or death Rev. 21:4.
10. All the sufferings of this brief present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory we will ultimately experience for all eternity to come Romans 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17-18.
“If I walk in heavens’s light, Shun the wrong and do the right,
Won’t it be grand to hear Him say, “Well done.”
(Traditional before 1993)
The Cracked Acorn: Wrestle
Paul Harvey, at 90 years old, is gone but will be best remembered for THE REST OF THE STORY. His different view of the news kept us laughing and brought us smiles when least expected. He advertised various products and sold PAUL HARVEY INSURANCE (I had a policy for a while.) For nearly fifty years, he researched and wrote his scripts for his nationwide radio show.
“When television arrived in a small western Kansas town, it became the darling of the couple, Burl and Maude Sullivan, On Friday nights at 8 o’clock, it was time to pull the shades and disconnect the telephone and lock the doors and any other thing that might cause a disruption of their favorite show, wrestling. Ask Maude or Burl about live wrestling, and they would tell you all the moves and names of all the wrestlers, never mentioning that there could be the slightest hint of Hollywood involved. When it was over, off went the set, and they would unroll the mats and go at it. Maude won most of the time, with her lightning leg locks catching Burl off guard, and then it was over until the next Friday night, two of Kansas’s lovers of the fine art of wrestling would again follow their favorite sport. Maude is 76 and Burl is 83.”
You wore a gown of pink with matching shoes. “No, it was shorts and a mini top with your old golf shoes.” Oh yes, I remember it well. It was the quick toss and rollover that caught my eye. “No, it was the Russian knee lock and the Bear hug.” Oh yes, I remember that so well. I lost a comb. “NO! You lost your teeth.” Oh, Yes, I remember that well! We dined alone and heard the birds sing! “NO, we had hot dogs and watched the test pattern.” Oh, Yes, I do remember it well! I often think of all those Wednesday nights when I took an early nap. “No, it was Friday, and you dozed off after the Sleeper hold applied with the Spider Twist.” Oh, yes, I remember it all now so well! ( fractured the lyrics from GIGI)
How many times have you or heard your friends say that they wrestled with a problem and lost sleep? The dictionary defines “wrestle” as struggling hand-to-hand with an opponent in an attempt to throw or force the opponent to the ground without striking a blow. We have to apply great strength and grapple with the problem until it is forced into a position where we gain and keep control. Today you can find the names of 150 holds and at least 250 wrestlers that work using stage names.
Wrestling has been around since Greek and Roman times. Note this from the Bible:
Jacob Wrestles With God – Genesis 32 (ESV)
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore, to this day, the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
The Cracked Acorn: Crosses
One of the remaining Cross Clusters south of Culpeper is still there; some history of this landmark.
On October 6, 1993, Bernard Coffindaffer died. He was 68. This was the end of an ambitious project that came out of “a genuine, marvelous, glorious vision” to plant crosses throughout the world. He obediently spent 2 million dollars in the last years of his life, putting these clusters in 29 states, the District of Columbia, Zambia, and The Philippines. There are at least 1,864, and may be more since he listed their locations on small pieces of paper.
The Cross Clusters represent the two thieves and Christ. Coffindaffer said that the crosses infer, “Not for saints or for sinners but for everyone that Jesus died for our sins and He’s coming again.” These California Douglas Firs stand at 20 and 25 feet. The outside ones are angel blue, and the center is Jerusalem gold. At the erection of each Cross Cluster, a service was held. He said unto the people and His disciples, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34)-was often quoted. Prayers for repentance and forgiveness of sins were offered. Coffindaffer once said, “The Crosses speak peace within as we struggle without.”
Mr. Coffindaffer was born in West Virginia and was left an orphan at an early age. He graduated from high school at fourteen, spent six years in the Marine Corps in the Pacific theater, and was at Iwo Jima and Nagasaki, Japan. He graduated with a business degree from the University of Charleston. He amassed a fortune in the oil and coal businesses. At the age of forty-two, he declared himself a minister and served seven small churches in West Virginia. The Cross Clusters have been the subject of a documentary, “Point Man for God,” and part of a public television series, “Different Drummer.”
On one foggy morning, I took several pictures and thought about what it would be like to be crucified and lifted 25 feet up in plain view for anyone to see. Like all plans of “mice and men,” the crosses are being lost now in the hustle and bustle of our world. This cluster is fighting to stay visible among commercial motels and restaurant signs. I saw how hard it must be to appreciate it at 55 mph. You can easily miss this one set in a low valley. The center cross is gold, while the outside ones are white. All three are peeling. Christ’s cross is wrapped in strings of small lights that may have been on during Christmas. If you mention crosses today to someone, they will talk of the recently made roadside memorials where fatal accidents have occurred. The original statement of the Clusters was to remind travelers never to forget the OLD RUGGED CROSS. Our society’s problems have attempted to “fog over” the Crosses, but if you know where to look, there’s still hope, and the ONE who hangs there still loves you and really cares. It will always be the first thing you will see when the dew and fog have gone away for a new day.
I TRAVELED DOWN A LONELY ROAD, AND NO ONE SEEMED TO CARE, THE BURDEN ON MY BACK HAD BOWED ME TO DESPAIR, I OFT COMPLAINED TO JESUS HOW FOLKS WERE TREATING ME, AND THEN I HEARD HIM SAY SO TENDERLY, “My feet were also weary, Upon the Calv’ry road; The cross became so heavy, I fell beneath the load, (from Sacred Selections)