Who is Christian?

How can a person say that they cannot tell if anyone else is a Christian,… that they only know about THEIR relationship with God…but then go on and say: “well, I know so and so and his values are like mine, so he’s obviously a Christian” and “I think so and so might be a little less of a Christian, and that other fellow well most of us agree that he isn’t a Christian but a cultist”

I am Again copying my post from the other day and while I am not a “great evangelist” like some people, I can read the Bible and this is what it says:

A false prophet can be recognized by the fact that he or she yields bad fruit — distrust, discord, confusion, wrangling, gossip, useless disputes, and divisions within the church, Jesus was very concerned about false prophets:

Mt 7:15 Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,but underneath are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24: 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

How do we tell who is a false prophet? Jesus tells us to look at the fruit:

Matthew 7: 16-20 By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”

The Heart of the Matter

We think our brain controls everything, but sometimes I am not so sure, especially when it comes to our deepest most “heartfelt” emotions. That’s right, heartfelt..from the heart.

For eons, before mankind starting looking at everything from a scientific standpoint, humans thought the heart to be the center of all our emotions. Not until the age of enlightenment, and the acceptance of scientific methods did it become widely acceptable that our brains were the center of everything which make us human. Yet we still continue to associate our hearts with love.

All Valentines usually have some tie in with hearts. We give someone our heart when we fall in love. We still get broken hearts. We bless people’s hearts, not their brains!

Of course I know very well, that science is correct yet I wonder why my heart soars, and swells when my little ones do something loving. I feel it with a flutter in my chest, not in my head. I feel that warmth deep in my core when I think of the love I hold for my wife, my family. I still remember the gut wrenching pain which welled up from within me and the sobs of grief which racked me at the deaths of my parents and my daughter. If my brain was in control on those days, it wasn’t doing a very good job.

I really don’t think that even the world’s smartest scientists know everything about the way we humans are wired up. They got the schematics down pat..right down to the DNA. But they haven’t come up with the blueprints for the soul yet. I don’t think they ever will because our Creator hid them….deep down inside our heart.

Dying Young

Thinking back to my childhood, I can remember thinking that I would die young. My Mom was terrified of dying, and unfortunately being associated with that attitude at such a young age somewhat tainted my view of living. It wasn’t really her fault, but was a symptom of her mental illness. Of course, I didn’t know that.

Living was something you did super, ultra carefully. You didn’t want to open yourself up to possibly getting killed by doing something stupid….like playing baseball ( you might get hit in the head with a baseball and get killed….yes it was that bad). I therefore didn’t play little league until my last eligible year…although it turned out I was pretty good at it. Made the All Stars, hit some home runs, had fun!

I tried to staunch my fears when I was raising my kids, but didn’t do well in some cases. They were lucky to have a stable Mom, because I was prone to panic attacks, and had irrational fears of many things: flying, bad storms, etc. I know my kids can remember. I regret those shortcomings, but at the time, I had no solutions. Later on in life, I got medication for my problems, and settled down somewhat. I say somewhat, because I still harbored some of those irrational fears. I did overcome my fear of flying and got a house with a dang good storm shelter!

I feel like that in 2010, when I had my bypass surgery, I became much less fearful of death. I became more capable of living in the day, and appreciating the beauty of the world around me, and being ever so grateful for the family I have to share my life with. Sometimes I still fear the unknown, but not nearly to the extent that I used to.

At my age, I surely don’t have to worry about “dying young” anymore. I do however, certainly want to continue to be able to build memories with my little ones as long as I possibly can.

My Mom lived to be almost eighty one years old, and only in her very final last days do I believe she found some inner strength, and sacrificed her fear of death to the ability to find some peace. I was there with her…almost all her family was there.

Build happy memories friends and family, and do not be fearful of the unknown!

Peace.

Perspective

Perspective can have a strange meaning. It can be tempered by time, or it can be eroded. It all depends upon the person, or the people involved.

When I was eleven years old, I decided I would read all the way through the Bible. I had not been a Christian very long at that point, so I sought to learn what the Bible offered for me as a new believer. So, I read the Bible from cover to cover. By the time I was through, I was twelve years old. It had taken me over a year, and I found many things I didn’t know. It was a very hard thing to do at that age, because of the way the King James version was written. It was a journey of discovery at that point in my life. It was fueled by love and dedication.

I read parts of the Bible many times during the ensuing years of my life, and then undertook to read it all the way through again in my mid-thirties. At this point, I was looking more for understanding. This time, I read the “New International Version” of the Bible and was able to read it all the way through in a period of several months. This reading was fueled by a need for a clearer meaning to some of the more difficult issues I was having to deal with as a father and a family-oriented person. I found that I agreed with much of what I had read, but had some questions about the meanings of certain things.

I re-read the Bible again in my mid-fifties. I went back and read the KJV again, because I had read research that said the KJV was 98.3% “pure” when compared to the Greek manuscripts from which it was being translated. I found a lot of things, especially in the Old Testament, with which I did not agree. I had read many, many other books in the years since I was eleven years old, including other versions of scripture and the books on which other religions are based. I also factored in other scientific and spiritual readings. This reading was fueled by a need to know if my former beliefs were warranted.

Three different eras of my life where I used my own personal perspective, with three very different outcomes.

I will not say at this point in my life where my personal beliefs now lie. They differ from most other people with whom I have been associated all my life. But, that’s really not the point of this writing. The point is, that no matter what our perspective on some issue is, we can be sure that it is different in some aspect…perhaps small differences, or perhaps very large differences, from other people.

The politics and beliefs of what constitutes a cohesive country and a real democracy, have changed tremendously over the past 15 or so years, mainly due to the difference in perspective between different groups of people in our country. If you belong to one certain group, then you believe one thing, while the other groups believe things which are 100% diametrically opposed. Many factors have gone into these changes in perspective, but I can understand how these things occur. I look at my experience with reading the Bible, and compare it to how people read the Constitution of the United States, and the vast differences which different groups see. To look at the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence and think of how I perceived them when I was a High School student in a Civics class, as opposed to how I see them now….it’s a vast difference.

To know that we were not taught many things in History classes that could have made a difference in our perspective of our country, makes me doubt that the system of government which we now have in our country will “long endure” as Lincoln put it.

I don’t think it will.

Countries change perspective, just as I changed perspective over the years of my life. Our democracy’s life is possibly on life support. But, that’s just my perspective.

The unknowable

I think of a spring breeze, rushing through the air,

It doesn’t have a body, yet it’s there,
And of the sunshine, I give praise,

For turning darkness into days.
Oh, for the things we cannot see,

Without which, we could not be,
I give my thanks eternally.

Bubbling Memories

I wonder how other people “see” their memories, in their mind. Mine come bubbling up in little gray colorless bits and pieces most of the time. If I sit and purposefully try and remember some specific event which has taken place in my life, I fail to rake much information up into the pile. I think the reason I write so much is because once I get onto a tangent of thought, once I get a good smell of a past brain remnant, then more and more starts boiling and cooking up to the surface. I was watching little Eli today, and the thought just popped into sight about Kirsten sleeping on my tummy when she was a tiny baby. I worked at Westinghouse on a night shift back in the early 70’s, and Paula was a Southern Bell operator. She had odd hours. A lot of times when Paula was at work, and it was “baby nap time” I would just lay down on the couch and lay Kirsten on my tummy. It was already quite ample, and I had no fear of her rolling off…She hadn’t mastered rolling over yet. One day though, I was really out of it, and so was she…. and the phone rang. I came out a full sleep and jumped up…And rolled little Kisi on the floor. It was only a short distance, and nothing was hurt but her feelings. I do think I took the phone off the hook after that. File that one under “how children survive inexperienced parents”

Good Old Days at the A&W!

I remember the days when “going out to eat” for us meant taking the 59 Chevy with the big fins and driving down to the local A&W drive in. It used to be situated somewhere close to where the Credit Union now sits. There wasn’t any “Longhorns” or “Red Lobster” and…we couldn’t have gone there even if there had been. Mill wages were low in those days…the late 50’s and very early 60’s. Luxuries were few. I got 50 cents a week for doing my part of the chores. I washed and dried dishes and raked leaves. I did various other “as per” tasks too. If Daddy thought of anything else that needed doing which I was capable of doing, then “per” Daddy…I’d better do it if I wanted my two quarters. I wanted them badly. Those two quarters bought me some cokes, some candy bars and three comics. Comics started out at a dime when I first started reading them. When they went up to 12 cents sometime in the sixties, I was so mad I coulda’ bit nails in two. I asked for a raise in my allowance, and much to my surprise my Dad starting giving me three quarters a week! I figure my Dad must have known about inflation and such.

Anyway, we went to the A&W once every couple of weeks. I loved those slaw dogs and a frosty mug of root beer. If I was on death row right now and they asked me what I wanted for my final meal I would tell them if they could find an old fashioned A&W, I would take two foot long slaw dogs with mustard and a large mug of root beer in a frosted mug. I would.

The little waitress (not a server back then) would come out with her brown paper pad, and ask for our order. She jotted it down, and within minutes would be toting that big old window tray with the hooks on the side back to the car with all the goodies on it. Of course we all had a mug of root beer. What in the world good would it have been to go to A&W and order a coke to drink? Their tater tots were delicious too, and I often had them to go along with the hot dog. I believe that once or twice Dad bought one of the mugs from them. I think a lot of people liked them…and probably quite a few drove off with them. The A&W people knew though…and when they came back again they’d get charged for those mugs! They finally got smart at some point in the future and started selling those little “souvenir” small mugs.

All of this from watching a football game being played in subzero weather and seeing a guy actually drinking an ice covered beverage of some kind….

What Walking has Taught Me

All this walking I have been doing has taught me many things over the past almost 5 years or so:

  1. It takes a lot more walking to burn off the food you eat than it does arm motion to put it in your mouth.
  2. You have to work really, really hard to take a photo in a small rural Southern town, or near Chattanooga, without getting a power line or power pole in the frame.
  3. The bird sitting on the power line WILL wait until you walk under him to poop.
  4. If you walk over a block without without a dog barking at you, you have gone too far and are out “in the country”
  5. People will stare at you like you are crazy, especially if you have your phone or camera out taking pictures.
  6. Going up and down 45% hills is hard walking!!

Seriously though, the moments of serenity and peace which I have felt during these past years has been worth the effort. There’s always something to see!

On almost every day, there is something which will make you smile or laugh…like the squirrel I scared today who fell off the narrow guide wire he was trying to run up to get away from me, or the very strong odor of the skunk I scared when I quickly opened the back door this evening.

There was the robin who kept flying and walking in front of me, obviously thinking I either had food, or was food. There was the gigantic predator wingspan of the hawk I saw winging tonight.

The air is usually clean and fresh…and apparently later on this week will be really fresh, as in in below freezing temperature wise, even though it’ll be in the 60’s tomorrow. Georgia is one of those states where you can have 4 seasons in one week….but hey, I’m not complaining cause it ain’t raining!

I might start going to the gym on some of those really cold days…but then again, those low temperatures might provide some unique opportunities to photograph something new and unusual.

We will see….

Living Life on the B side.

When I was a kid, we had only record players on which to play our favorite music. For most of my early childhood, I played my records on my dad and Mom’s old Philco combination radio/phonograph. I think that old machine is still sitting in my son’s house. We only owned a few records when I was very little. Dean Martin, Sinatra, an Elvis album. All of them were 33 rpm records, or “albums” as we called them then. I wore the ones we had out playing them. I can still sing any of the songs on the ones we had word for word. The only time the radio was on was when my mother was listening to some radio preacher, or when my dad wanted to listen to a football game. Other than that, there wasn’t much “live” music being played. Maybe the “Grand Ol’ Opry” every now and then…. but not too often. My Mom had always wanted to be a “country singer” but never knew how to pursue it. She had a halfway decent voice but wouldn’t sing for anyone. Her childhood was challenged, to say the least. She had absolutely no self-confidence. None had ever been instilled in her. My Grandpa was not good to his daughters for some reason. My dad loved to sing though and would go around the house singing all the songs he had grown up with. I learned a lot of Al Jolson songs, and other various and sundry songs that a child of the depression would hear as he grew up.

I got my first personal record player of my very own when I was about 12 years old. I had to be that age, because it was after we had already moved over on 9th street…. which was in the fall of 1962 I believe. I remember having to get out in the yard and move the 12-inch-high brown grass in the cool of that Fall. It was probably my Christmas present that year. It was a two-tone brown boxy little outfit that the top part flipped open to reveal the inner workings. The best thing about it was that it had a 45-rpm converter which fit down over the top of the spindle. This meant I could play 45’s …. if I could get them. Luckily, I had an uncle whose job was filling up juke boxes with new records as they came out. Every time we went to my grandmother’s house, my uncle would have a big box of old 45’s that he had taken out of the juke boxes and replaced with more current songs. I brought home dozens of great records. There was one problem with those records though. All 45’s had an A and a B side, where the A side was the primary release song. It was the “popular” song on the record. Most of the time on those used records, the A side was about worn out, while the B side was rarely played. Therefore, I listened to a lot of “B” side music. One record I can recall more than others was Elvis Presley’s 1962 hit “She’s Not You” That song was totally worn out, but the B side was “Just Tell Her Jim said Hello” which I grew to love as probably my favorite Elvis song. (well, besides “Hound Dog” which was also the B side to “Don’t be Cruel”)

There were a lot of records where the A side was still very playable. I got to where I loved Billy Joe Royal, Tommy Roe, whose A side songs didn’t get played as much, as well as the B side songs of the Rolling Stones. (of which a couple I cannot even name here)

I did keep on playing the 33’s also. I began to love show tunes, mainly because Redfords 5&10 would put them on sale after they’d been sitting around for a while, and where I couldn’t afford the “popular” records of those days, I would pay 50 cents for the soundtrack of “My Fair Lady” “The King and I” and many others of that time period. I can still sing them word for word too, and in many senses, I love that music more than some of the Pop tunes of that era. I kept that little record player until I moved off to college in 1968. It was a little monaural wonder. The first time I head a stereo record player, believe me when I say, I was amazed.

I reckon the influence that music had on me during those days made me be satisfied with living life on the “B” side. I mean, I might have enjoyed being a rich man…..I might have liked being popular and well known for being a singer and a songwriter, but then again, I may not have cared for the consequences of being famous. I probably wouldn’t have. I’m entirely satisfied and happy with the way my life has turned out. Every time I think about it, I ask Alexa to play “Just Tell her Jim said Hello” or even “Hound Dog” like I did today. I also asked her to play “Dream” by the Everly brothers in honor of Phil Everly. Man, I love that song.

I did it my way. Sort of…

Obviously winter is hard upon us. They say later this week, the coldest temperatures in a decade. Not as cold as the winters of 80 and 81 though. Those were cold winters. The temperatures ran below zero for several days in a row. My pipes froze, and I had to crawl up under the house with only large wax candles to thaw them. I thought I would freeze solid as a board, but…I didn’t. I got it done.

Those same summers there were many days in a row over 100 degrees. I worked as a supervisor at a mattress company, and what didn’t get done during regular work hours I had to do by myself after hours…I was “on salary” you see. I loaded whole tractor trailer loads alone. I thought I was going to collapse, but I got it done.

Two extremes in weather, two extremely hard times. A microcosm of my life…of many of our lives. Despite the extremes, and at many times when we would have liked to remain more “in our comfort zones” we have gotten it done. For my family, to put food on the table, to have a few things…just a few..beyond the absolute necessities, I have done these things, and did not regret them.

I started out as a baby…like in the photo I found of me and my Daddy…but now I approach that other extreme. From birth to death, and all the beauty or ugliness I have seen and done, I do not regret…and one day they will say of me, he may not have been the best, but…he got it done.