Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Box by Lascelles Abercrombie

Once upon a time, in the land of Hush-A-Bye, 
Around about the wondrous days of yore, 
They came across a kind of box 
Bound up with chains and locked with locks 
And labeled "Kindly do not touch; it's war." 
A decree was issued round about, and all with a flourish and a shout 
And a gaily colored mascot tripping lightly on before. 
Don't fiddle with this deadly box,Or break the chains, or pick the locks. 
And please don't ever play about with war. 
The children understood. Children happen to be good 
And they were just as good around the time of yore. 
They didn't try to pick the locksOr break into that deadly box. 
They never tried to play about with war. 
Mommies didn't either; sisters, aunts, grannies neither 
'Cause they were quiet, and sweet, and pretty 
In those wondrous days of yore. 
Well, very much the same as now, 
And not the ones to blame somehow 
For opening up that deadly box of war. 
But someone did. Someone battered in the lid 
And spilled the insides out across the floor. 
A kind of bouncy, bumpy ball made up of guns and flags 
And all the tears, and horror, and death that comes with war. 
It bounced right out and went bashing all about, 
Bumping into everything in store.And what was sad and most unfair 
Was that it didn't really seem to care 
Much who it bumped, or why, or what, or for. 
It bumped the children mainly. And I'll tell you this quite plainly, 
It bumps them every day and more, and more, 
And leaves them dead, and burned, and dying 
Thousands of them sick and crying. 
'Cause when it bumps, it's really very sore. 
Now there's a way to stop the ball. It isn't difficult at all. 
All it takes is wisdom, and I'm absolutely sure 
That we can get it back into the box,And bind the chains, and lock the locks. 
But no one seems to want to save the children anymore. 
Well, that's the way it all appears, 'cause it's been bouncing round 
for years and years 
In spite of all the wisdom wizzed since those wondrous days of yore 
And the time they came across the box, 
Bound up with chains and locked with locks, 
And labeled "Kindly do not touch; it's war."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The "Y"

My wife and I used to work out at the local “Y”.  Where we live we see Y buildings everywhere.

Our little church is like a floating crap game.  You have to know someone on the inside to know where we are meeting this week.  The first two Sunday mornings of each month we meet in a public elementary school gymnasium. Our announcer that morning read a thank you note for the school supplies we had donated to the school several weeks previous.  During the week, the same gym space doubles as a morning and afternoon program run by (you guessed it) the Y.

On one wall of the gym the Y has posted 12 behavior rules.  After our worship time this morning which focused on the harvest (it is October after all), I walked over to the wall to check it out.  Everyone else was visiting and catching up on the week’s activities, but as a flaming introvert, I decided to go read the wall.

To my surprise, the twelve rules were mostly Bible based.  The first one spoke of loving each other.  Another said “treat others the way you want to be treated.”  No references were given, but to even a casual Bible student the source was evident.

Beyond my surprise, I was inspired to be hopeful about our school system.  Here in a public school in Minnesota, a state that a few years ago sent the most liberal of the 50 senators to Washington, the Y was teaching kids to live the way that Jesus had encouraged all of us to live.

Perhaps this should not have come as a surprise to me, but because so much is changing, I thought the Y had probably changed as well.  While the organization is widely known as the Y, it is officially the YMCA which stands for Young Men’s Christian Association.  It is no longer gender specific (a good thing), but it apparently retained its Christian values.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bullies On and Off the Playing Field

Our society is sending mixed messages about bullies.  A couple of decades ago we “discovered” elementary and middle school bullies and the damage they were doing to our kids.  So we started spending money trying to stop it.  Non-profits were formed; curriculum was developed; kids’ books were written; in-service sessions were held; hall monitors were instructed.  In some places police officers were placed in the schools.  All with the goal of decreasing or eliminating bullying behavior in schools and on the buses.
Bullying behavior?  That’s name calling, pushing, hitting, intimidating another kid or taking away something that was his or hers.  But there are exceptions.  On the ball field or in the hockey rink pushing, hitting, intimidating and stealing are expected, encouraged even.  And we expect the kids to keep the boundaries straight – rewarded here, punished there.

As those kids become adults and some of them stay on the football field or in the hockey rink, the rewards get even bigger.  For some the result of pushing everyone else out of the way, grounding the other guy, and stealing the puck or the ball is some really big money.  We still expect them to keep the boundaries straight.  It is okay to hit the quarterback really hard, but not your girlfriend or your four year old.  It is okay to take the ball away from the other team’s offense, but not the electronics from Walmart.  It is okay to intimidate the other team’s defense to get what you want, but not your girlfriend.  

It seems simple enough doesn’t it?  But some of the best players, those who have learned how to be the best bullies, just don’t seem to get it.  I’m just saying.  What do you think?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Charlene's Magic Purse

Charlene has a magic purse.  Sometimes she puts stuff in it and it just disappears.  I think it was left here by someone from "somewhere else."  Maybe one of those pockets is in another dimension.  The stuff she puts in there is just "Poof" gone.

And sometimes stuff comes out of there that never went in.  We don't know where that stuff comes from.  Maybe it is a replacement for the stuff that disappears.  You know, like Indians in the closet or something.  Except we ain't never seen no Indians.

I got to thinking about it the night my numbers disappeared.  I got this iPad, see.  And I love it.  Mostly.  Sometimes it drives me crazy.  Like the night it ate my numbers.  Or whatever.  I have used Excell spread sheets for a lifetime.  Made charts and graphs of everything that changed.  I'd watch it and if it changed even a little, I'd Excell it.  But when my laptop died all I had left to do numbers with was my beloved iPad.  I hated it at first.  Couldn't make it work. Til I found what was hidden behind the double click.  I got it to work and put some numbers in it.  I trusted it with my most precious numbers.

You see we run this guest house for the Estes folk.  Jesse is our boss, but Richard is the numbers guy.  I think he's like me.  If you can count it it needs a spreadsheet.  So I've been keeping track of everything we buy.  Paper clips, $800 grocery bills, tires for the Ford, butter, ice, whatever.  And I tally all that up, alongside how much money we got and I send it to Richard.  And now, "Poof."

But maybe even more important is the place I keep all my passwords.  Passwords, entrance keys, code phrases, answers to dumb questions the bank asks.  One time I answered all of a bank's questions with "Memphis."  Daddy's middle name?  "Memphis."  First girlfriend's name?  "Memphis." First pet... You get get it.

You know how many passwords I got?  Everything from Kohl's charge card to three banks, to things like Amazon, Facebook and Twitter.  A page and a half, fine print.  I might as well put away my iPad and my new laptop, go back to paperback books and only talk to people who come to the door.

Well this night in Haiti in June during my malaria episode I was in the kitchen at bedtime  because the Internet was working in there but not in our comfortable sitting room.  I was about to shut it down for the night except for the ebook I was reading and go to bed.  I was going to look at one more thing.  Don't even remember what it was, but I had to look up the password.  And I turned to numbers and "Poof" they were gone.  All the numbers.  Every precious spread sheet.  Gone.  Richard's numbers, passwords, other stuff.  "Poof."

I didn't even try to look for them that night.  Just went on to bed.  Enough is enough.  I had been fighting the Internet connection all day only to discover at the end of the day that it was okay in the kitchen. I didn't have the emotional energy to go looking for my precious numbers.  I just had to hope they were safe somewhere.

Later that night I got to thinking about it and about Charlene's purse.  Here's what I think happened.  My iPad has been in the purse a few times.  I believe it got too close to the portal to another dimension and the portal pocket put some kind of hex on my iPad.  We are in Haiti after all.  I'm just saying.  I think my numbers are somewhere with Charlene's car keys having a grand old time.  Maybe on that big new planet they just discovered that came out of nowhere.  "Poof."

Monday, May 12, 2014

out of the pews: 16 reasons to honor women

out of the pews: 16 reasons to honor women

16 reasons to honor women

Honor to Whom Honor is Due
 16 Reasons to Honor Women

Sometimes still in the 21st century women are dishonored for being women.  Just so there is no misunderstanding, those attitudes don't come from God.  He may have assigned us different roles, but he didn't shame women, he honored them.  Here are 16 women honored by God.

Old Testament
          Esther the queen - defeated the powerful, arrogant Hagar & risked her life to save her people from destruction.  Esther
          Rahab, the prostitute, saved God's army's spies and her family & friends & became an ancestor of Jesus.  Joshua 2
          Ruth honored her mother-in-law and also became an ancestor of Jesus, even though she was a foreigner - Ruth
          Deborah, the judge, defeated  King Sisera who had been tormenting the Israelites - superseded General Barak and made a point of it..."because of your attitude ("I'll go if you go along") God will allow a woman to defeat Sisera."  Judges 4 & 5
          Jael - put a stake through King Sisera's head while he was hiding in her tent from General Barak who was looking for him.  Judges 4 & 5
          Sarah - packed up with Abe and went, not knowing where they were going.  She became the "mother of nations."  Genesis 12 & 17
          Hagar - the slave woman was sent out into the desert alone with her little boy.  With God guiding her, she led him to safety and raised him, alone, during a time when that was very hard, and he became the father of a great nation.  Genesis 21

New Testament
          Woman at the well - Jesus was not supposed to be there, not allowed to speak to her.  He did and engaged in a serious religious discussion - amazed his disciples. John 4
          Widow who gave her last two coins - Jesus honored her.  Luke 21:2
          Woman caught in adultery.  Jesus didn't fall for the religious leaders' trickery; let her go. John 8
          Woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears.  She was a sinner. Had money, perfume. Wash feet, kiss, perfume. Sins forgiven.  John 12
          Similar incident in Bethany.  Jesus said everywhere the good news is told, this woman's story will also be told.  Matthew 26:10-13
          Jesus' mother.  "God is very pleased with you."   And "You are special to him."  Luke 1:30.  And Jesus honored her at the cross by putting John in charge of her welfare. John 19:27
          Women who supported Jesus.  Including several whom Jesus had healed and Herod's manager's wife used their own money to support the group.  Luke 8:1-3
          Lois & Eunice.  Timothy's mother and grandmother.  Paul commended their faith.  2 Timothy 1:5
          Lydia.  First convert in Philippi (and Macedonia).  First church in that part of the world met in her home.  No mention of her husband.  Acts 16:14&40

From a lesson delivered at the Ganthier church, Mothers Day, 2014