Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Playing in a minefield

In war torn areas of the world there have always been horror stories, especially grievous when we hear of little children, playing in minefields. Then there are the ugly news articles about children finding supposedly hidden weapons of their parents and killing themselves or their friends.

I was thinking recently of the analogy of our teen age children who distain the curfews and restraints and limitations imposed by their parents. "I'm old enough to make my own decisions." "I'm gonna do what I want to do, and you're not going to stop me!" Maybe the words were not actually said, but the actions clearly declared that that is what they were thinking.

Now if you saw a four year old playing with his dad's revolver, would you try to stop him? If you slapped it out of his hand and yelled at him, could that be described as an over reaction?

When a 16 year old hangs out with bullies, druggies and foul-mouthed young adults who curse their parents and laugh at the pain and distress of others, would you try to stop them? If you are 30 years older than this kid, isn't it possible that you have collected enough knowledge about the "mine field" to direct him out of it before disaster occurs?

I've seen a young, sweet, teen girl leave home to hang out with a south-central gang, and give herself to the leader because "he loves me". I've tried to get her to see how her parents have loved her all the way from changing messy diapers to staying up all night at her bedside when she was sick. And what kind of love does she expect to get from this gang leader? She's just another "Ho" in his harem, and as soon as she is no pleasure to him she will be discarded like a used bandage. She listened to me, but nothing registered.

It is really painful when you see young people you care about heading for disaster or destruction, only they are now too old to slap the gun out of their hands. You can lock them in their room, but they are big enough that they are able to open the window and run. You can talk sense to them, and they only hear, "blah, blah, blah".

The only hope I know of is that somehow they get soundly saved before these special danger years. Young people who have genuinely come to love Jesus, may make mistakes, but they will come through in the long run. Unfortunately, our kids often say all the right words, convincing us and the elders of the church that they are ready to make public declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ. But they do it only because it is expected of them, and they don't want to make any waves. Then, somewhere in those teen years, lustful hormones and a rebellious mindset decieve them and blind them completely to the dangers of their foolishness. Only if Jesus is really living in them are they able to listen to reason and tiptoe out of the minefield.

I've seen many young people that I have loved go in each direction. It hurts. I need to pray more feverently. Shame on me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Adequate Etiquette

You've heard the story of the guy who is traveling the interstate and stops to use the restroom. In the next stall he hears a guy say, "Where are you from?" He answers, "LA".
"How long have you lived there?"
"All my life. Where are you from?"
"Can you hold for a minute? The jerk in the next stall thinks I'm talking to him."

I was that guy in the next stall! Well...almost. I came very close to jumping into one of those cell phone conversations. Just yesterday when I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, there's a guy pacing back and forth in front of my house on the sidewalk, talking a blue streak.

Now I'm old enough to remember when people were friendly enough to open conversation with complete strangers. So when, in the supermarket, I hear a voice behind me, "Hey, the melons are on sale!" I turn around to respond to this friendly stranger only to find he has this black plastic roach stuck in his ear, and he's talking out loud right next to me, but he's talking to someone else as though I didn't even exist.

When I notice people walking along babbling out loud, my first impression is, "Oh, isn't that sad. I wonder if he hears voices. I wonder if he is dangerous, or just another registered idiot. Then I realize that he has another sophisticated electronic application somewhere on his head, and I'm the only idiot here.

Maybe that's what I dislike the most about cell phone etiquette--or lack thereof. And it is twice as bad when you are with family members and friends. It is so natural to answer, or to try to understand what that last comment meant in our conversation, only to realize that he is no longer talking to me but on the phone to someone else. I thought I was saying something important, but present company is always put on hold in deference to the incoming call. Now if he has his phone set to vibrate I really have no clue when he's on the phone or talking to me. If I am not left feeling foolish, I am at least left feeling very unimportant. Here I am telling an interesting story of what happened the other day, and suddenly I'm talking to nobody.

Have you been in a room where stories are being swapped? Have you experienced the extreme dis of having others interrupt you and redirect the conversation in another direction? Well now they do it in high tec with cell phones.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lake Arrowhead memories

We won a weekend at Arrowhead from a radio show. I think we were listening to the radio morning talk show on KABC in those days. The hosts were Ken Minyard and Roger Barkley. We liked Roger better because he was more of a gentleman and he was more conservative. Barbara called in to answer three questions (don't ask me to remember the questions) and she succeeded to get the phone call through, and to answer the questions correctly. She won!

We enjoyed a beautiful cabin with a clear view of the lake. Others in the units near us seemed to be the rich and famous who obviously took things in stride, while we were wide eyed in wonder at the luxurious surroundings. Our old car had to stop to cool down during our ascent, and we wondered if we would make it. I tell you these details so that you may understand the references I made in the following lines of dogerel composed on the occassion.

Arrowhead Resort – 1996

There stands a handsome Cadillac
In someone else’s drive
Our faded and decrepit hack
Barely did arrive.

Among the rich and famous ones,
A place that’s not our style,
Kicked back and sat upon our buns
Adjusted with a smile.

The view was just spectacular
We saw across the lake.
And tourist shops were not too far
A walk we had to take.

Pines whisper and willows quiver
In brisk refreshing breeze
A beauty that makes me shiver.
O’r sky and lake and trees.

Rich people come here all the time
They see what we have seen
The evidence of God is prime
In beauty blue and green

But do they stop to worship Him
Whose handiwork is there?
More wealthy than those rich and grim
God made me be aware.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Christian School memories

When we lived in Modesto our children attended Modesto Christian School. It was run by a local Assembly of God church. They had great teachers for the grammar school section of the school, but they tried to expand too rapidly, and I think they acquired incompetent teachers for the older grades. Apparently the Gallo family thought something similar to this. Yes, these are the famous Gallo wine people. They were staunch Roman Catholics, but they valued education for the grandchildren enough to send them to this charismatic, fundamentalist school through the 8th grade, only to transfer them to a local Catholic school to finish up their high school education. So even though the people of "Assemblies" church controlled the school, the Gallo family did much to sustain it financially.

School policy was strict about dress code, forbidding suggestive or foul language on printed tee shirts. I found it rather humorous that the Gallo boys got away with wearing shirts to this "dry" institution which promoted: "Drink wine all the time" and sported the Gallo logo.

I know our son, Calvin, was friends with the Gallo boy who recently died. At that time our Bobby was classmates with another of the Gallo grandsons, and Bobby was invited to the mansion for his birthday party. At the party they raced ATVs all around the property.

Later the school moved to a more spacious property, acquired from a Christian peach grower. The school then became located in the middle of an orchard, which left the children who were outside at given times of the day, sprayed with chemicals dropped by the low flying crop duster. Philip was wondering how this may have prompted his bout with lymphoma.

The family from whom the school obtained this property (I don't remember if it was donated, or if it was just a "friendly" price) were also friends of ours. They let us come and glean huge, wonderful peaches after the pickers had finished. Our whole family was there picking boxes of fruit which we dried on our roof at home. In fact we discovered some of these dried peaches in the bottom of our antique freezer which we recently disposed of for an energy saver. They are still good! Boil them a little and let them stand, and they are as good (or better) than peaches out of the can. While we were picking, our son, Bobby, decided to throw one at his friend (the son of the orchard owner) as he drove through the orchard on his ATV. One of his pitches was more accurate than he intended, and we were embarrassed to apologize to our friend for hitting his son in the head with a peach.

This friend, by the way, was an "elder" in the Church in the Park, which was a thriving unit of the "Jesus People" in the 70s. Another elder of the Church in the Park was also a member of our congregation, Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Modesto. At first they were just a group who met on Friday nights at a local park, sang the Scripture choruses with guitar accompaniment, and then hit the street to witness to young people who were "cruising" McHenry Ave. In the movie, "American Graffiti" it was another street they used to cruise when George Lucas grew up in Modesto.

I learned many Scripture songs from this group, and I went out witnessing with them. They had a location to house street people who came to know the Lord. There was a "Lydia House" for girls who had become Christians and needed a home off the streets. A local Christian doctor provided room in the basement of his office for boys to stay. It was called the "catacombs" because it was a labyrinth of halls and "rooms" that resembled spelunking. They were good people. Then they decided to become a church, and of course, that meant they met on Sundays instead of recommending their people to attend a local church.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ronan, MT

Ronan, MT – August, 1992

The shadow of these mighty peaks
Caress our sleeping town
By this our mighty Maker speaks
The God of great renown.

The Summer sight is soft to see
With green coniferous fir
But Winter’s coat for every tree
Wet ermine dresses her

Distant mountains elsewhere seen
Often seem out of reach
Foothills always stand between
Our view and modify the breach.

But these crags of stone we tally
Jut with starkest erection
From the floor of Mission Valley
Perpendicular direction

They bite the dawn with jagged teeth
Like stony capped incisors
Whose time-lapse movement from beneath
Escapes astute surmisers

The silt of centuries compressed
Are raised by the shrinking plate
Deeper spirits seeing God expressed
Are compelled to contemplate

The patient God who worked now speaks
O beauty, might and majesty
And he, desiring God, who seeks
Is certain to the Maker see.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Family Camp

What a great Family Camp we had this week! Everyone gave it rave notices. No major gripes or conflicts. The theme was "love" and the text was I Corinthians 13. Professor Alan Strange from Mid Atlantic Reformed Seminary, exhorted us powerfully from the text. No I'm not going to play games with his name, mainly because I can't come up with anything clever and original. We have really worn out the "Strange man from MARS" quip, and Alan has heard that so often it might cause regurgitation to lay that on him one more time.

The great sporting event of the week is, and always has been, horseshoes. As Alan Pontier, the camp "Voice" describes the winner's trophy, it is the Coveted Golden Horseshoe. Due to a death in the extended family of Mark Schroeder, Troy Manning was asked to fill in as Athletic Director for the week. He dubbed himself as the "shorter Schroeder". At the award ceremony he unfortunately called it
the "stuffed yellow toilet seat". He mused about a parallel to the brazen serpent in Israel's wilderness wanderings. As the serpent was held high to cure the snakebite of the Israelites, so the trophy may be lifted up to cure constipation. Last I heard Troy is keeping his day job even though many were urging him to apply to comic central.