Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Monday, June 25, 2012

I like leeks and garlic

Those stupid Israelites!  God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt with spectacular miracles.  He began feeding them with miracle food that fell from heaven like frost.  This huge camp of desert travelers were given drink from a rock--a rock, no less!  Why would anyone complain, after seeing all of that?  But complain they did.  Shame on them.  Their curse was to wander in that wilderness for 40 years until all that complaining generation died off.

But shockingly, the next generation began to complain about some of the same things.  How is that possible.  But then I began to imagine myself in that second generation.  Some had been born in the desert.  They had not known the taste of anything besides manna.  They had it morning, noon and night.  Picture dad returning from herding all day.  He asks, "What's for dinner?"  "Manna"  "Had it for lunch!"

Seriously, manna--miracle food directly from God--was routine for them.  It was no more a miracle than the rising of the sun is considered by us to be miraculous.  The plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea were just stories from the past.  "What have you done for me lately?"  This while God's cloud overshadowed them and provided shade to prevent sun stroke etc.  Shame on them.  They are so short sighted and self-centered.

Woe, wait a minute!  When I point my finger at them, there are three fingers pointing back to me.  Am I thinking, "Nothing exciting ever seems to happen at church."?  We heard a very good sermon last Sunday, but we heard a good one the week before too.  It may be sweet like honey and tasty as coriander, but it is routine.  Shame on me!  This is God's miracle food for me.  When pastor opens the Bible and preaches the truth from this book, something IS happening that is supernatural.  I don't feel it, and it may take a while before anyone sees it, but the Spirit of God is showing me the glory of the Lord, and He is transforming me into that same image, little by little.  (II Cor. 3:18)

If you can't remember what your pastor preached a month ago, it still is miracle food.  Can you remember what your wife cooked for dinner a month ago?  But it was nourishing and kept you alive.  The great tempter wants you to dis worship and find other things to take priority over church.  But your soul will shrivel if you fall for that lie.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Killing My Father in law

Here's one of those episodes that loom dramatically before my mind's eye. I thought you could tolerate.

 Okay, now that I have your attention, let me tell you another yarn from my memory banks. Barbara's father lived to see his 100th birthday, and he was a sharp witted enjoyable guy almost til the end. He got to ride horseback on his 98th birthday, but that is another story.

When he was a mere 96, we traveled east to see him. The family that lived across the street from our family (40 years ago now) had moved their parents to an elegant retirement community near Lancaster, PA. Combining the two visits seemed wise. Quarryville, where dad was living in retirement, is an excellent place to spend one's latter years. There were always alternate choices of cuisine, and the tables were set with fine plates, crystal goblets and cloth napkins. It was clean and comfortable. The place is populated with former ministers, their wives and assorted Presbyterian retirees. One of dad's table mates was the professor who wrote the Hebrew grammar from which I first learned the language. At another point in his long stay in Quarryville, he had a lady table mate who, with dad, did so much laughing at lunch that they were frequently asked to tone it down. He used to bring a page from his joke telling desk calendar for her to read, and they would giggle and guffaw like 4th graders.

It turns out that the dining hall at the other retirement place was a step higher in elegance than the beloved Quarryville. We had to show dad. Since our friends invited us all to dine with them, we took dad to taste for himself. But when we put him in the wheelchair and headed for the elevator, we were told that the elevator had stopped working. We were not to be thwarted, however, and decided to carefully maneuver the stairs with dad still in the chair. Now the caveat was this; I was still recovering from hip replacement surgery. My progress must have been a trifle slower than I thought. This was a short flight of stairs, because there was a landing after about 6 stairs before the stairwell doubled back to reach the next floor with another set of stairs. I carefully navigated the first stair, tilting the wheelchair back and taking one step at a time. The second stair also went without incident, but about the third stair I began to realize that I had tragically over-estimated my repaired hip, and by the time we hit the fourth stair something tragic was ominous. My footing was compromised, and the chair slipped from my hands.

To this day I can replay, in slow motion, the picture of my aged father in law tipping out of his chair, hands flailing in the air, and the chair crashing after him to the landing. What have I done!! I've killed my wife's father! No bones were protruding, no blood was evident, and he even was able to gain his feet soon after. But the remainder of our trek down the stairs, dad chose to take the stairs on his feet with a tight hold on the banister.

Later that evening, as we dined elegantly at the other home's buffet, dad made a joke about his son-in-law trying to kill him. It was at that point in the evening that I knew he was his old self, and had successfully survived my ostensible attempt on his life.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In Defense of Neckties

I haven't published lately. Sorry for that. Maybe there's no one out there looking for my posts, and my comment is irrelevant. But just in case, here is a vintage post that I find amusing, and I hope you may too. Being a minister, decorum often dictates that I wear a necktie. Retirement tends to relax that demand somewhat, and living in southern California grants everyone a few more degrees of informality. Nevertheless there are occasions when a tie must be worn. And on those occasions I wear a tie with playful design, and it makes it worth the ordeal just to be a trifle rebellious. Nothing too outrageous, just Winnie the Poo or Mickey Mouse. I especially like Charlie Brown characters and Snoopy playing tennis or something like that.

My friend, Jay Adams, shamelessly rails against this timeless convention as the sole reason women outlive men. He claims that men slowly choke themselves to death with this silky rag. I don’t know if Insurance companies have made it an actual study, but my personal anecdotal testimony claims at least two good reasons to wear a tie (in spite of the risk).

The first reason is one I discovered as a young father. By the time I had two boys who liked to play “boys climb on daddy” I had observed the first practical use of the cravat. Carrying a two-year old boy on my arm was a safer proposition when he used my necktie as a sort of trolley strap. And when I held two little boys at the same time, and they insisted, “Daddy, run with us” that trolley strap was quite useful.

Well those days are long gone. I am not the man I was then. In fact I am closer to being twice the man I was then. But that is a circumstance that occasioned the discovery of the second practical use of neckties by this corpulent clergyman. It makes a great cover for the strained buttons down the front of my shirt. It seems that a tie, like love, can cover a multitude of sins.

Actually there is another very practical use of a tie that I have found, but it does not involve the wearing of it as a fashion statement around the neck. Old miserable ties make the perfect bond for a three legged race at the Sunday School Picnic. The tie is just long enough to bind the legs of these contestants, and yet it is soft enough so as not to cut into the flesh of rambunctious runners.

Ties, like other fashions, run in cycles. The wide tie will occasionally experience a revival, as will the narrow one. You may like to save for those fashion revivals. But once you commit your tie to the three-legged race, it is not likely to see another fashionable day.