Monday, April 30, 2012

Russian Christians and American Christians--Unite!

Thousands gathered Sunday outside Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow to pray for the defense of the faith from irreligious and secular social forces.  It's funny that I just thought that sort of pressure was happening in the USA.  For more on the story click here. 

Last Christmas there was a huge protest to the Manger Scene on the Court House lawn from a group in Wisconsin called Freedom from Religion.  Apparently the problems in Russia are similar to the ones we are facing in East Texas.  In Moscow a female rock group entered the Cathedral and performed an obscenity-laced "punk prayer."  The group left when a priest ordered them out.  Henderson County pastors are planning an assembly in the county seat of Athens to make a similar protest to the one in Moscow.  

All of this seems to be directed at the Christian faith.  Our churches and our symbols are under attack from freedom fighters.  The freedom fighters need to wake up--It was the Christians who fought for freedom from slavery, segregation, unjust rule, oppression, and women's rights.  If you really want freedom, the Christians are you allies. 

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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Ugly American--Still?

The Ugly American was a political novel published in 1958 written by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer and the events it described gave the USA a really bad black eye.  I am not active in the international arena, but it seems to me that the Secret Service and other scandals of this nature would keep the reputation alive for another generation.  Is there any way to change that?  I just write these dumb blogs, but for some reason I have been getting readers from all over the world.  It makes me wonder why?  Am I offending those I'll never meet by my opinions and prattling?

I hope not!  It thrills me to have readers in Russia, and India, and Bangladesh.  Sometimes I get a lot of readers in some location that seems very remote from me, and I can't help but wonder why.  

These readers make me want to learn about the countries and the cultures represented.  Where do they work?  What do they eat? What kind of music do they listen to?  What is their style of worship?  Maybe I'll find out and share my results with the rest of you. At least I'll learn something new. I've thought travel would be out of my budget and now I have an opportunity to research a lot of new places.  Watch for my stuff.  Send comments if I get it wrong.  I don't want to be The Ugly American.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Baptism Should Mean Something

Recently someone asked me if I could give an account of my salvation, and I can't.  I am saved according to all I understand from the Bible about the meaning of salvation, but I got here by a circuitous route--it was not the simple act of asking Jesus to forgive my sin and live in my heart as I have heard many times over the years.  Here is the story; if you see how it happened, let me know.

When I was nine years old, someone came to my Sunday school class on the Sunday before Palm Sunday and asked if any of us wanted to join the church on Palm Sunday.  The District Superintendent was going to visit on Palm Sunday, and somebody, the preacher of some of the teachers, thought it would look good to have a bunch of kids get baptized and join the church that day.

Reflecting on the event I question this method of evangelism.  It seems artificial and unchristian.  Nothing I have learned about salvation is included in here.

On Palm Sunday there I was in my new pink taffeta dress with 14 other kids my age and some older.  My mother was there for moral support.  My chief concern was the disastrous effect the water the D.S. put on my head in the sacred act would make my curls fall.

I went to Church off and on through my high school years.  My mother died the year after the baptism, and my father was not a member of the Church.  Others relatives and friends wooed me to Church for Vacation Bible School and parties.  Eventually I began to get a sense of guilt about my foolish and stupid behavior which I read as conviction.  I never strayed far from Church.  It was safe and I knew people there.  Mostly they were friendly.

I'll be 76 years old on my birthday, and I still cannot tell you when I began to believer in Jesus as my Lord and my Savior.  I guess I find it a little embarrassing that I cannot identify the time I first truly believed in Jesus.  I find the fact of salvation astonishing and Jesus' sacrifice on the cross absolutely amazing, but I don't know the time when it became real to me.  I do know that on Palm Sunday of the year I was 9 is the time when Jesus believed in me. He led me and guided me and spoke to me since that day even though I just did it to look good for the D. S. on Palm Sunday. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Future Draws Me Forward

I've discovered that the future pulls me forward.  I used to think that the success or the pleasure I had in the past provoked me to success by my seeking for that same fun or rapture again.  But now I think it is the anticipation of some experience I have never had that draws me into the future and new experiences.

Maybe it's both.  I want to fly kites because I love them, and I have for many years, but the drawing part comes from having a new kite or a new design.  Anticipating some new person to fly with or teach is also a thrill.  Kids, especially, respond to the pull of the wind the first time they feel it.  Wind is ordinary and there is nothing spectacular about a spring breeze.  But when you see the kite grab it and soar heavenward with the tail swaying and popping the first time, it has become magic.  

The magic is just as great the first time you see the kid that holds the kite, and her face lights up, and the kite jumps in the air.  When I feel the tug on the line, my heart jumps, too, and when I see the little kid's face jump with the kite, my heart jumps with hers.

I have to make some kites because my anticipation of this experience is driving me and drawing me a future joy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Land of the Scandalous and Home of the Disreputable

It's none of my business, and I wasn't involved, but I still take it personally that the Secret Service is besmirching the name of the United States in Colombia and to the rest of the world.  It's not that we haven't had scandals before, and they have involved sexual subjects and very high profile, government officials, but it still makes me mad.  

Is it fair to hold government officials to a higher standard of behavior than the rest of society?  They are still human beings. They still have emotions and needs and personal lives. They shouldn't be different than the normal tourist and visitor.  At least that's the defense I hear about them.  Hogwash!!! They represent the nation in the national arena.  Besides the fact that they were not fulfilling any responsibilities of their office by having a party with the best hookers in town, they may have provided opportunities for a breech in the president's security.  They also make me feel like there is no one who can be trusted to present an honest, upright, picture of American values and behavior.

Maybe we don't deserve that wholesome and honorable presentation of our character.  Maybe I'm looking at what I would like to believe we are as a nation.  Maybe that is old fashioned and out of date and no longer true, even if it ever was.  It saddens me greatly to think this  could be true.  Is there a way to reclaim it, to teach our society to think about how you behave because it reflects on your nation, I'd very much like to sign up for the class.   

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Playing in the Rain

I always loved to play in the rain.  In the summer when a shower came unexpectedly in the afternoon, I loved to go out in the yard in my bathing suit and revel in the joy of getting wet.  My mother looked on this as a rite of childhood, and laughed to see me romping in the grass or playing in the mud.  

It was wonderful to watch the little rivers form in the ditch until I disrupted the flow with my foot; then the water found a new course and surged on to empty into the larger flow and pass down the street.  Sometimes the neighborhood kids would join and we would become an army of wet soldiers, damming and breaching the miniature rivers.

One year we had an extremely wet summer, and I played in the rain several times in one of those afternoon pop-up showers that came up quickly leaving the summer sun a sparkling clean world to reflect it's glory.  Mama decided to go out with me.  She didn't put on a bathing suit, though, she just wore a old dress.  She wouldn't have worn anything nice to get wet in.  But during my playing, she washed her hair in the run-off from the roof.  She thought since we had had so much rain, the roof would surely be clean and the rain water was good for her hair.  Playing with my mother in the rain is a cherished memory.  I hope she loved it too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Texas Is a State of Mind

List of state highways in Texas
List of state highways in Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Texas is my home.  It was my parents' home and I cherish it.  I have been other places, and I enjoyed the trip, but here I know what the rules are and who I am.  I read an article in the Ft.Worth Star- Telegram about an experiment in teaching students what it means to be Texan at McMurray University in Abilene .  The 15-hour course includes study in the Buffalo Gap Historic Village which includes a dozen historic structures and it will be capped by a three week tour to the whole state with stops at historic sites.  This is hands-on history including recreating of a buffalo hunt.

I'd like to join them.  I've been to some of their destinations on trips with my family.  I remember the way my parents talked about the far regions of the state.  My mother's sister lived in El Paso, so I have been entertained by her descriptions of the mountains and the desert. My husband's sister lived in San Angelo, so I traveled to those plains myself.  I've been to the coast, the historic sites, the missions, and the lakes.

 My father's g-grandfather was granted the section of land on which the town of Bogata was built.  The town was originally named Maple Springs, but the Post Office protested the name when it came time to be officially registered as a town with postal service, because there were so man towns with Springs as a part of the name.  It was supposed to be named for the capital of Columbia, but the clerk who filled out the paperwork had poor handwriting or couldn't spell.  In any event it became Bogata pronounced BA-go-ta. 

I read the deeds with great reverence that cite the William H. Humphreys Survey as the location of land my family owned.  William Humphreys had been in Texas in 1818, but his father died and his mother did not think she accomplish the work required by the land grant, so she returned to family in Kentucky.  William did not lose his yearning to be counted a Texan.  By about 1836 William and his wife and some of his children were parked on the border waiting to re-enter Texas when independence was declared. He had to wait until then to come back because Santa Anna had abolished the constitution of 1824 in favor or the new Constitution of 1835.  I'm not sure whether Santa Anna feared the impact of settlers from the United States but there was restriction on immigration. But with Texas as an independent nation, William and his family became citizens of the Republic of Texas and settled in Red River County.

I claim my native land as Texas.  I'm proud of it.  This is a picture of the Red River County Court House in Clarksville, the County Seat.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sinners in the Church: What Should We Do?

The preacher made an important statement in Church yesterday morning.  He said that most of what passes for evangelism nowadays is simply shifting sheep from one pasture to another.  It sounds kinda like the competition between the football teams when the college players get drafted.  After their initial contract is up they become a free agent and they are up for grabs again.  If people visit our congregation they may be free agents and we might be able to get them for a while.

Some years ago the big focus of many churches was an annual  event called a revival meeting.  Revivals lasted at least a week, sometimes two.  They usually got a good preacher from far away and some top musicians to draw a big crowd.  The church members had to pull together to invite people, act as ushers, feed the preachers, and clean up after the service.  

Hopefully, in the congregation, their would be some people who had never been a member of any church, maybe even people who were known to be imbibers or other obvious sins.  The goal was to impress on these citizens the error of their ways and draw them into the kind embrace of the church where they would find salvation and healing for their soul.  At the same time, the members who came regularly got a good dose of repentance, too.

Revivals are not a popular activity anymore.  I'm not sure why.  There are still sinners who need the message of salvation.  There are still church members who need to be revived.  There are still churches with sagging attendance which could benefit from some jump-starts in the ranks.  Even the preachers need a challenge from the visiting preacher who holds the revival.   

Revivals in years gone by had lasting consequences on congregations and communities.  People were saved when the message of salvation was preached to people who had not been inoculated by Sunday school's gentle wooing.  The message of Jesus and the eternal destiny of the soul requires a response from every individual.  Maybe it's time to replace the rock concert with a revival.  Think about it.  I have. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thomas Kinkade: A Tribute

I read a news article this morning about the death of painter Thomas Kinkade.  His paintings were not reviewed well by the art critics, but they were highly favored by the people who enjoyed a gentler, brighter view of the world around us.  I was first introduced to his pictures when we attended the art sale at the Brangus cattle show in Kerrville, Texas  in the 1980s and 1990s.  We never had enough money to buy any of the art offered in the sale, but I enjoyed the excitement and the beautiful pictures.

Kinkade's work often included nostalgic renderings of country scenes and people.  His pictures always brought light to the subjects and often there was a religious focus.  He was known as the painter of light.  

I remember thinking that he was probably not going to the get the raves of the critics because he represented the world as better and brighter than the artists that saw the filth and disgust in it.  What do I know--I am certainly no artist.  But my memories and even my prophesies of the future often hold a glimmer of Thomas Kincade's light.  I read about his conversion as a believer in Christ.  Maybe the light he saw was a reflection of heaven or of God's view.  I like to believe that life is better than it looks in the evening news with war and terrorism and disease and death as the only focus.  I want to see joy and birth and hope and light and Thomas Kincade's work helps me see it.  He brings Gods view into focus.