“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”— John 10:14
Sheep! I don’t have much knowledge about sheep, I just know that my father raised hogs and cattle and avoided the idea of sheep; it could have been that there was no real sheep market at that time in central Kentucky, also that there was not any for soy beans…like today. There was a couple of incidents with two farmers that entered this business; one was shut down by marauding dog packs and the other farmer closed his sheep business when he did a chemical dip on the flock in the middle of a Kentucky winter. These were the days that a person discovered a tall mountain grass and named it Fescue – this became the cash crop.
While waiting in a local restaurant for a carryout, the waitress confided in me that she was from Texas. There was a morning that they ( the family) woke up to strange noises form the back of the house or as we would call it ‘a deck.’ They went to check and there crammed in as close as could be, sheep. Yelling at them to go away or tugging or any kind of hands on just did not work!. Telephone calls were made and one of the ranchers showed up and claimed them, he made some clicking sounds and turned and left followed by all the sheep. I was so reminded by John, the 10th chapter.
In my working travels, I was sent to New Zealand to do satellite tracking at the South Island airport. The countryside is filled with sheep, some say there are 37 to every New Zealander. You may see occasional cows and wonder why the bovines are so thin; the reason is that after the sheep nip the grass off close to the ground there is not much left for the cows. I assumed that daily mutton is sometimes replaced by a hamburger…and a very slim one…low fat!
Humor: A policeman stopped a pickup truck with sheep in the back. The driver was told that the sheep should be taken to the zoo and then asked why the sheep were wearing sunglasses. “Sir, I took the sheep to the zoo yesterday and today I am taking them to the beach.”
• There are over 1 billion sheep in the world.
• China has the largest number of sheep in the world.
• Sheep have a field of vision of around 300 degrees, allowing them to see behind themselves without having to turn their head.
• Sheep are herbivores that eat vegetation such as grass.
• The digestive system of sheep features four chambers which help break down what they eat.
• Sheep like to stay close to others in a herd which makes them easier to move together to new pastures.
• In 1996, a sheep named Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned from a somatic cell.
• Domesticated sheep are raised for a number of agricultural products including fleece and meat.
The Cracked Acorn: Door
Weekends and holidays are the prime times for advertisers to stuff flyers into the daily newspapers, adding to what I call the “pulp padding”. You can’t escape a peek at the ones that are the home suppliers. I like the nice color photos of doors of all types. Some of these beauties can stop a vacation to Disney World. If one is installed for your front door I am sure you will fall down and worship its varnished wood and stained floral glass panels. Fingerprints will never mar its glossy sheen and you will hang a sign on its brilliant brass knob requesting everyone to come to the humble back door. A door of this quality could even go as a birthday gift, think about it!
The word door may have entered our language through an English family name, Dore, meaning the entrance to a narrow valley. We use the word every day: Close the door when you leave. She forgot to lock her car door. They live two doors up the street from us. His office is the third door down the hall on the left. A day cannot go by without the use of the word “door.”
The Egyptians put into their tombs a false door. It was to serve as an imaginary passage for the deceased between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Lavish inscriptions were on the false door referring to the countless offerings that the deceased is about to receive. Sometimes a life-sized statue of the deceased was placed before the door as if it had just stepped out of it. (Ancient Egypt From A to Z , Internet Site)
We can’t live without them. They keep the cold drafts of winter outside and the cool air inside during the hot sultry days of summers and keep the swarms of hostile insects outside. Properly fitted, a door can be locked for security purposes. Doors keep us from falling out of our cars. Closed doors can stop the spread of a home fire. Doors give us privacy and absorb outside traffic and neighborhood noises. A door can have many names: trap, stable, barn, French, garden, pet, revolving, and automatic door. Whatever its name, a door serves a very distinct and useful function.
James Rowe (1865-1933) came to America from England in 1889. He settled in Albany, New York. He worked for the railroads and later for music publishers in Texas and Tennessee.
He wrote the words for I WAS SINKING DEEP IN SIN and JUST OUTSIDE THE DOOR (1912) O weary soul the gate is near, in sin why still abide? Both peace and rest are waiting here And You are just outside. Just outside the door, just outside the door, Behold it stands ajar! Just outside the door, just outside the door, So near and yet so far!
An old saying in the south “Katie bar the door” meant “something unstoppable is coming!” and “Katie bar the kitchen door” suggested that you had better watch out!
(May God bless you and all your loved ones!)
The Cracked Acorn: Heartburn
It could be due to that one extra slice of New Year’s pizza that should have been ignored. I have been there and paid my dues to “Heartburn, Inc.” but never received the t-shirt. You can go to your physician as I did and get a prescription when I had over-indulged in the office coffee. Recently, I was told to avoid anything acid in my diet. This includes tomatoes, spicy foods, some fruits and juices, coffee, tea, and caffeine drinks.
The list grows. All the good things in life I like to eat and drink seem to have the skull and crossbones implanted on them. The second time around my medicine man suggested that I try and use over-the-counter (OTC) tablets. I went to the store and started with the cheapest and worked my way up in price, finding no relief as the advertisements promised. At last, I decided that it was time to purchase the most expensive which even on sale was a shocker. The instructions said to take with a glass of water at the start of the day and continue for 14 days. This was to be a complete treatment session.
Day 1, then day 2, and on day 3, I felt much better. When 14 days were completed, I wondered does this work but is this for real? When I fell back into my old ways, I once again went to the 14-day plan, and again it worked. I have to admit that this product does what is printed on the box. I could be a salesman for this company because I can say, “I used this product and it really works!” These are not sugar-coated pills.
Over the years, I have heard the old old advice given to those who are struggling to get control of their lives. Read your Bible! The easy-to-read Word of God has the instructions for daily living and how to become the victor. The Scriptures given to the writers thousands of years ago are still the prescription for comfort and strength today. When administered in the youth of life and continued on through adult maturity, a Biblically founded Christian will be able to say, “I have used this book and followed it and it really works!”
Our nation is anemic when it comes to prayer and even the Saints have to be reminded occasionally that prayer is so necessary for our lives. We must believe that prayer can do many wonderful things for us, or why pray? Heartburn is a physical ailment and can be treated. The relief is affordable and available nearby. Once we know the cause, steps can be taken to eliminate or slow its spread. Heartburn of the spiritual nature is very severe and means that drastic measures are immediately necessary. Its effects are eternally threatening while its death means a whole new world of growth that leads only to our heavenly Father and to the home He has promised to those who believe in Him. (Revelation 2:10)
It is no secret what God can do.
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.
With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you.
It is no secret what God can do. (hymn- Sacred Selections)
The Cracked Acorn: New Years
New Year’s Day fell on December 25 until Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar in 1582 and changed it to January 1. Janus the god of beginnings and endings had two faces; one looked into the present and the other looked into the past. We may hold an affection for the past that is why we traditionally sing AULD LANG SYNE about “the good old days.”
New Year’s Day on the farm was a quiet day. I remember fallen snow and crisp air. You could shout and it came right back to you. If my uncle was visiting, we would call up Jughead, our dog, and tramp into the fields to scare up a rabbit or two. The day passed quickly walking over the farm. Our first big meal of the year would be a pot of cooked turnip greens seasoned with a ham hock. There was always a bowl of black-eyed peas and plenty of cornbread fresh from the oven. Dessert was bread pudding, or maybe a berry cobbler. My grandmother made fried apple pies from her own dried apple slices. It was still the season for lots of sweet potatoes.
In other countries, New year’s Day is observed in many ways: Austria-they have a roasted pig, Wales- they leave the back door open for the old year to leave, and the front door is opened to admit the new year, In Spain, it is grapes for the day, Sicily- Garfield’s favorite, lasagna, and in China- it is to paint the front door red for good luck and don’t cut yourself with a knife on this day-this means bad luck.
This is also the time to look over the list of the 2021 resolutions and decide if we deserve a passing or a failing grade. The list may have noted these: exercise more, stop some bad habits, be more friendly, improve the mind, and start a new hobby or even try to learn a foreign language.
The New Year may not be our Promised Land. The children of Israel looked forward to the land flowing with milk and honey. It was only after the spies had returned and told of giants in the land that they felt afraid and lost faith in God. Every year may not come up to our expectations but time spares no one and we have only one choice and that is to cross over into a new and yet unmarred year.
The Bible offers these encouragements for the New Year:
“Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,” (Psalm 105:5)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
The Cracked Acorn: Christmas
It is God Himself that has made us what we are and given us a new life in His Son. – Ephesians 1:10
Christmas, the holiday season, is the time of the year that seems to come earlier and earlier. No matter how you prepare and plan it seems to elude you and sneak up on you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
This time of the year brings back memories and gives us the chance to create new ones before the end of the year.
Seeing families shopping for gifts at the major stores, I wonder what their children will remember of the year 2021. We who are older will remember the severe winters with lots of ice and snow. Schools never closed; it was up to you to make it to school. It was still the time when school programs went all out with all kinds of Christmas plays and decorations. There was even a gift exchange for every student and a visit from Santa Claus. I liked the gifts but was never able to become his personal friend and climb upon his lap. There was always lots of good food.
The American family has undergone drastic changes since the start of the nuclear age. Hard times for many have disappeared. If you have a job you have a car so one TV advertisement says. The stores are stocked with every imaginable gadget known to mankind. The fact that we have deep problems in today’s world is ignored by our seemingly prosperous economy. As I write this the sounds of blasting for a new shopping center keep echoing.
The family is in trouble and has been under fire to share its time with other interests. The families of 50 years ago ate daily meals together. More than one-half of the population eat one or more of their meals at fast food places every day. Building relationships takes involvement and attendance. Absent fathers or mothers and even children just do not cut it. Sorry, I did not intend to preach!
Family is what the church is all about. The growth of churches that offer everything is evidence that society is suffering anemically for closeness with others of like thought-regardless of the spiritual damage. As a child, I often asked my father, “Why is the church helping a person or a family that never comes at all to the church building during worship and partake of the Lord’s Supper?” He always answered, “That is what the church is there for.”
Dad is gone and I now answer – THIS IS WHAT THE CHURCH DOES FOR ITS FAMILY & OTHERS!
“we’re part of a family that’s been born again; Part of a family whose love knows no end; For Jesus has saved us and made us his own, Now we’re part of the family that’s on its way home.
What’s for Christmas dinner, Grandpa?”
“taters, possum hearts fricasseed in hog renderings, collard greens, rhubarb pie, and chickpeas fried with breadcrumbs, and also three-bean soup with green onions and ham cookin’ on the front burner and Grandma’s cornbread or freshly baked biscuits. There’s apple and cherry pie served with iced tea or all the hot coffee you can drink.” HEE-HAW!
The Cracked Acorn: Recall
A newspaper article stirred some of my past memories. It caused me to ponder over the wonderful gift that God gives us all; the ability to keep and recall our memories, good and bad. Some of us can recall quickly names and associated information. A fellow worker once brought his retired father through the USGS survey computations section. I told his father my name and the son later mentioned that a month or year from then his father would still recall my name.
It was 1965 in Ethiopia, We were on a project for precise earth shape studies. This required us to be on certain ground points for several days; our work was at night. We had started northeast of the capital and was to end at the port city of Assab on the Red Sea. The people everywhere seemed to be content with the worst conditions of disease I had ever seen. I have often wondered about the small boys with their slingshots tending the family flocks. Had they risen from their lot to positions of power in their government. These youths could have turned the world upside down in these past years. (I Samuel 16:11-13)
There was a pair of young girls with their goats; they had discovered us on our hilly desert survey point. I think they were not only curious but had a need for the large ration metal cans. We could not converse in the Tigrigna language but knew that they did not like, peanut butter and left those cans. Maybe one of them used the metal containers cans to water the goats of a fellow tribe member and as a result, was married into wealth, also, it could be that they are both advocates of women’s rights. The ladies of this country could have used more freedom. (Genesis 24:19-22)
Ethiopia is a beautiful country with its jungles, mountains, and desert scenes. The tourist trade is a big part of their economy. Ethiopians are mentioned 40 times in the Bible. “Can an Ethiopian change his skin, or a leopard his spots? [Then] may ye also do good, who are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23) is one mention. In Acts 8:27, Philip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch, of the court of Candace the queen, scriptures indicate he was her treasurer. Some think that the eunuch went home and later converted the queen to Christianity.
In the years following, sources indicate that not too much has changed in this country. Life expectancy is about 41 years. Disease is still on the rise, especially with Aids. The government has changed. I don’t know if the Church of Christ umbrella factory is still in Addis Ababa. At the time of my visit, they had a small church and were growing. Unfortunately, Ethiopians trained in the USA usually find a way to remain here. Those educated and trained in medicine found it too much a “culture shock” and tried to leave the country for greener pastures. It is a country that needs lots of help to become a major player in today’s market. Our workers and brethren in Ethiopia definitely need our continuing prayers “Of one the Lord has made the race, Thro’ one has come the fall; where sin has gone must go His grace: The Gospel is for all. eely, freely give, From every land they call, Unless they hear they cannot live? The Gospel is for all.” ( Sacred Selections)
The Cracked Acorn: The Cold
The season is here, the winds are blowing warm and then cool. The trees have a few leaves but are losing the battle. Children are having a ball diving into already raked piles of leaves. You pause and think it might be nice to be young again. Those wooly caterpillars are crawling out of cracks. Old-timers noted that if they were all dark that it meant a hard winter. Brown caterpillars held the promise that we could put away the snow shovel until next year. When I was a kid almost every winter was ice and lots of snow, my childhood was around a hot stove that was banked overnight. We slept on feather beds with lots of covers. It was days of long-handled underwear and lots of wool clothing for those long deep dark and chilly days.
Helen Keller, born deaf and blind,1932 wrote these comments. To many people, autumn brings a sad mood. They think of the stripped tree, the stubble in the field, all the summer charms gone, empty nests clinging to the boughs, brown leaves swinging their last hour on the sharp breeze. Who is not grateful to the Creator for autumn’s rich display of hints of gold crimson, purple, and the softer glints of the myriad ecstasies of ripe fruits and grains? The glossy brown chestnut beloved of children, the tingling odor of burned leaves scenting the sharpness of the afternoon air?
From: IT WAS SO COLD THAT: you could chip your tooth on soup, we chopped up the piano and only got two chords, the cows starting giving ice cream, the dogs put jumper cables on the rabbits to get them running, the flame froze on candles, you couldn’t take the garbage out-it wouldn’t go, one day I came home from a walk without my shadow- it was frozen to the sidewalk, it was so cold that roosters were rushing into the kitchen to use the pressure cooker, grandpa’s teeth were chattering-in the glass, airplanes needed icebreakers to clear a path through the sky, I thought I had a stone rolling around in my boot-it was just one of my toes, (for you country-western fans-Shania Twain covered her midriff), geese flew backward to stay warm, and our words froze in the air. If you wanted to hear what someone said, you had to grab a handful of sentences and take them in by the fire.
What would happen if all of us said this in our transactions (I love you!) and these three words froze till the spring thaw. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear for a few days or a week, these important words that add a loving spiritual dimension to our lives?
I love you with the love of the Lord. I see in you the glory of my King, And I love you with the love of the Lord. Please love me with the love of the Lord. IF you want to do God’s will, then the need you must fulfill, Is to love me with the love of the Lord. He loves me with the love of the Lord. My debts were all paid when He rose up from the grave. And He loves me with the love of the Lord. (from Songs of FAITH and PRAISE)
Jeremiah 8:20. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”