Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

Hang out with the old preacher by browsing my blogs.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


When I was in grade school we lived about two blocks from the hills in Eagle Rock.  We kids climbed around those hills daily during the summer months.  On occasion we saw the Occidental Cross Country team running by us.  Castor beans grew in the wild and oak trees dotted the landscape.  There were trap door spiders to observe, and/or capture.  But the most discomfort for an 11 year old boy was the tarantula.  I remember a neighbor sweeping one off his driveway into a large jar.  It's not a love/hate relationship, but rather a terror/fascination relationship I have with spiders.  And when one is as large as my hand, and black and hairy as really creeps me out.

I've been told that tarantulas are really not dangerous.  Well they may not be poisonous, but the danger for me, waking up with one on my chest, would be the danger of a heart attack.  I know they are available in pet stores, of all places.  I remember reading in the paper about a boy who brought his pet tarantula to school for show and tell.  As boys are prone to do, he tried to show him off by not only handling him, but giving him a kiss!  According to the newspaper account, the spider bit his lip, but he only suffered a painful swollen lip for the prank.

One of our trips through Kings Canyon National Park encountered about four tarantulas crossing the road.  I was fascinated.  Telling the kids to stay in the car, I stepped out and approached these scary little beasts.  You will have to tell me if it was my imagination, but I'll swear that they hissed at me.  I could see the lead spider raise its head and front legs at me, and I heard a distinct hiss.  Of course I turned on one foot and headed straight back into the car.  It was a classic case of cross cultural communication.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Murder in Seal Beach

Here we go again.  Another wicked man has taken his gun and blown the life out of 8 people in the clean, friendly neighborhood of Seal Beach, CA.  I hate when this happens.  I hate it, but I'm not astonished as many seem to be.  God has told us about the moral warp that has infected the human race after the fall.  In fact it was rather early in history that God said, "Every intent of the thoughts of his heart is only evil, continually."  Or Psalm 14 that says that God looked down on the children of men to see if any did understand and seek God, only to find that they are all together become filthy, and there is no one that is good, no not one.  The events in Seal Beach on Wednesday are just another unfortunate outcome of the sinful condition of human nature.  There should be no great surprise here for a Christian. Grief, yes, but no surprise.

The irony is that our culture seems fanatically determined to believe that human nature is basically good.  This is what gives the media commentators pause when angry sinners lash out with irrational slaughter like this.  Sooner or later (for the defense attorney it will be sooner) someone will try to give a reasonable excuse for this behavior.  They seem to display a religious commitment that requires the isolation of this man from society.  He was out of his right mind because of his boating accident, or because of the threat of losing custody of his 7 yr. old son.  There has to be a reason...something other than admitting that there is a dark side in every one of us that will drive us to unspeakable deeds if left unchecked.

Then we might hear the skeptics and atheists cry out, "Where is God when things like this happen!"  I'll tell you where God is.  He is still saying that these were not worse sinners than any others, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.  Life is suddenly over for 8 people, and the lives of dozens of others have been irreparably scarred by the loss of loved ones.  Providence teaches, no, shouts at us, that life is short.  Life would be senseless if that is all there is, but when you know that after this there is a judgment, it begins to come back into perspective.

The very first message that Jesus preached was summarized by, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand."  Every man, woman and child needs to know that they could be snatched into eternity without even a moment's notice.  If that innate sense of justice is going to be satisfied, we'd better believe in the judgement seat of Christ.  Without it, the existentialists are right to say life is absurd.  But they only say that.  They do not live as though they really believe that.  When Jean Paul Sartre railed against his own government for cruel behavior against the Algerian guerrillas for their immoral behavior, he had to publicly admit that he was speaking in flat out contradiction to his philosophy.  We all know right from wrong, and when right is not rewarded or wrong is not punished in this life, there is no resolution if one stubbornly refuses to hear God speak of heaven and hell in the bible.

Proper dignified minds may belittle the belief in a "sky high heaven and red hot hell" but without the Bible's perspective on eternity, those same proper people are left with no ultimate meaning for life.

Let us morn those who were senselessly murdered.  But let us take this harsh lesson to heart.  It is appointed to men once to die, and after this: the judgment.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Little Stars

Whenever I attend a wedding (rather than conduct one), I look for the stars of the show.  That would be the flower girl and the ring bearer.  They are such cute miniature humans!  They can be so delightfully unpredictable, and therefore account for some of the most memorable moments in what occasionally becomes a tedious routine in our culture.

Barbara, the preacher's daughter, remembers the groom who fainted...twice!  They finally brought him a chair to finish the ceremony.  She also clearly remembers a wedding performed at the manse during which the ring fell, rolled along the floor and fell down the vent of the floor furnace.

But I digress.  I was reflecting on the little stars of the show.  Like little Raymond who was the ring bearer for my daughter's wedding.  At rehearsal, he balked and cried, and simply WOULD NOT walk down the aisle.  The next night, we were prepared to conduct the wedding with or without his cooperation.  But this time, sporting an adorable little tux, and now with a church full of terrifying people, he marched down the aisle like a pro.  You never know.

When my son was married in Memphis, the ring bearer DID become terrified by that great crowd.  They begged, cajoled and finally dragged him down the aisle.  And when he arrived, he anchored himself to the leg of my other son, serving as a groomsman, clinging for dear life, and never let go.

More recently when our nephew was married in the San Francisco area, the scene was outdoors at a picturesque park, seemingly made for the purpose.  Someone had thoughtfully sewed the ring to a satin pillow for the ring bearer to carry to the pledging couple.  But when he arrived, alas the pillow was there, but not the ring!  The groom's father, known to be a quick thinker, took off his own ring, and the embarrassed couple used it because of the urgency of the occasion.  I still have a snapshot of the wedding party, on their hands and knees, routing through the grass, looking for the lost ring.  They didn't find it until they brought a metal detector the next day.

The little flower girls have not left me with such dramatic recollections.  I remember a flower girl, with a basket full of flower petals, who did not drop a single one on her trek to the altar.  Some have cried all the way.  And I do remember one who shouted "No" to her mother, who was trying to tend her after she arrived up front.  The memorable part of this scenario was that she shouted right after the minister asked, "Will you take this woman to be your wedded wife?"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I heard Dennis Bartell on the radio this morning, with his little great composer quiz.  The question was which composer was vain about his hair which was blond and flowing.  He was small of stature and his face was pale of pallor, but his hair was outstanding, and he was proud of it.  The answer is Mozart.  Actually I guessed the correct answer, but it got me thinking about hair.

I remember when classical musicians were called "longhairs" with something of disdain in the voice.  But culture evolves, and at my age I can see that culture evolves all too rapidly.  So this "longhair" epithet has fallen into disuse because today it is the rock musician who has the long hair, and it is part of his shtick.  Young impressionable girls swoon over the shrieking rock star as he nearly swallows the microphone and his shoulder length hair flairs around him.  It is far more likely that it would be the fan of classical music (who is usually much older) who might use "longhair" as a derogatory epithet for the rocker.

Then I remember when men with long hair were excluded from proper Christian fellowship.  Now it is quite common.  In fact that same rocker mentioned in the last paragraph might lead a worship team on the stage of a church with "contemporary" worship style.  We are so influenced by culture.  If we are not adopting worldly standards of culture and behavior, we are at least confused by culture, and our senses become dulled.  We major in the minors.

Ray Commeret, a now deceased colleague of mine, was a bit maverick in his methods, and generous in his sense of humor.  I remember the day he drove in to French Creek Bible Conference with a full black beard, rolled down the window of his car, and said in his excellent Brooklyn Jew accent, "Is this the House of David?"  He had just returned from an extended vacation to pick up children at French Creek, and it was obvious that he had not taken a razor with him on vacation.  I understand that he hadn't used his razor yet when he first entered his pulpit after vacation, and his sermon title was, "How Long is Christian Hair?"  I have no idea what his text was, nor just how he preached Christ from it, but knowing his integrity as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, I'm sure it was a legitimate Bible text, and I'm sure he pointed people to the Savior.  Compared to some of the dramatic antics of Old Testament prophets, this was not really far out of line.  He was a living example of how we can major in the minors.

When I look at old photos of myself, I sometimes laugh at the hair.  It wasn't that long, but it was simply old fashioned--and the sideburns!

Somebody obviously thinks that Jesus had long hair.  In fact the famous Salmon portrait of the Christ portrays a rather effeminate, western European face with long hair.  Who is this?  Are we to believe that Christ sat for the portrait?  In what museum might I find the ancient camera that captured His likeness?  And yet every "miracle" appearance of Christ in porch light shadows or burnt pancakes is identified by the same general image.  Why do we reject the rendering of the black Christ?

Scripture says that there is nothing outstanding about His physical appearance.  There is no beauty that we should desire Him.  His human nature must bear the Mediterranean Jewish coloring and bone structure.  I wonder how many westerners would be pleased with his appearance.

I love Jesus because He first loved me, and gave himself for me.  His physical looks will not even be noticed by believers when we see Him face to face.  In that day we will see perfectly, and when we see His face, we will see the lover of our souls, and that is all we will see.