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What do you think about how to dress for church?

Let’s talk. When the professional women on TV shows like the CSIs are bringing rapists to justice and their own tops are so low cut the FCC says they can’t raise their arms, our society continues to receive the mixed message that it’s ok to bare more than our souls but nobody gets to stare or glance.

Dear Abby: Can I wear my swim trunks to church? My answer is “I don’t want to know what you’re wearing under your clothes.”

When Jesus says that people judge the outward but God is looking at the heart, does that mean that as long as women don’t show up in clear heels looking like they need an aluminum pole to dance around, appearance is really a secondary matter?

Our youth leaders work so hard to present the gospel to our children. Then, when puberty attacks, MTV tells them that sex is love and love is sex and they dress the part. Our boys too see the costuming as normal. How do they keep their eyes off the girls’ body parts and on Jesus? Do they even think they should?

I suggest that maybe the older women who should be examples to the young girls don’t know how to dress themselves. I gave the example of the mature woman with mature cellulite having poured herself into stretch pants. She’s covered but with what? Paint? See also the reference to choir robes at the door.

Click continue to get my take on it then let me know your thoughts.

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Parkinsons

He was known as Russell to his friends, Elmer to the Army, Sweetie to his honey and wife of 49 years, Dad to his kids, Dat to his son-in-law, Grampa and Poppy to the descendants. No matter the many names, he was known as My Brother to Jesus and My Child to God.

His humor was simple but legendary. He cheered all in his path and those who were forced to listen to the same one liner one more time didn’t stop him due to the victim’s listener’s deep respect for him. He was passionate about his faith and his family, equally passionate about his politics, being a “laborin’ man,” and would defend the underdog even if he didn’t agree with him completely. Being an underdog was enough.

He died of a low grade infection that slowly shut down his worn out vital organs in 5 days, too soon for out of state children to rush to his bedside to say good-bye. The infection killed him but the Parkinson’s wounded him to his core. He watched it ravage his body for about 10 years. The muscles he’d built into tremendous strength in his youth were weakened by the constant motion and twitching. No longer cheerful, no longer a source of humor, he would sit in his recliner and hold his one big hand with the other but the shaking was relentless. It couldn’t be stopped.

It ‘s a cruel, debilitating demon that never lets up, doesn’t let go. Medication can make it crouch in the corner only for short periods of time. Take too much, the symptoms exaggerate. Take too little, the same. Take nothing and it’s out of control. The perfect medication balance is a relief until the disease increases in intensity at which point nothing works. You shake. And shake. And shake. Cruelty in one of its ugliest forms. It’s a slow, slow death if indeed it is fatal after a thousand years of suffering.

When Mom died on May 27th, Dad was left alone in the room until December 23rd when we imagine Mom calling to him “Russ–sell! It’s Christmas time. Get up here!” For those months he wordlessly sat all day and slept in his recliner. His only complaint besides the disease was the flashing 12:00 on the VCR. We would reset it over and over but the power was turned off every night. The next morning it would flash again. He lit up only when his kids came to visit.

He lost interest in movies, his Gunsmoke tapes, the news, the radio. His hearing was so poor if he wasn’t permitted to turn it up to 300,000 decibels, it wasn’t worth the effort to turn the “dad-blame thing” on. So he sat. And shook. When he quietly went Home in his sleep, the demon beast at long last let go.

Imagine for a moment that he was still alive, still in his house in Cameron and saw Michael J Fox, a famous and therefore, informed man on TV, also a victim of Parkinson’s talking about a cure. Not being a man of science, being hard of hearing and consistently missing key information, what would the man I once knew do? I know precisely what he’d do …

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Thunder on the prairie

I have traveled the great American prairie, desert, and Rocky Mountains many times. The first trip I can remember is when I was three. I can’t remember much, but the snapshots include two walls of rock on either side of the car, playing elevator with sliding glass closet doors, and being scared silly when my brother-in-law picked me up. “Down Buster!” Dad laughed at my response for years.

During subsequent trips my dad was conflicted with “making time” and stopping at scenic overlooks so he could take pictures of desert expanses on black and white film with a Brownie box camera. A few times we took the route toward Denver, diverted to Colorado Springs, walked the Garden of the Gods and visited old Mr. Wilson who had at one time courted Mom before she fell for the dashing 6’2″ soldier in uniform in 1942.

There was almost 1/2 century between me and my parents. They were raised by people who were raised by people who settled this country’s expanse in wagons. It’s pretty awesome to me that there are only two links between them and me. I think of all the pioneers every time I look across wide open flat land. I imagine the exuberance, the heat, the weather, the fatigue and the raw fear. So much could and many times did go wrong. It was said that every mother could expect to lose 20% of her children during her own short lifetime. Think about that. So the advice was to bear as many children as nature allowed, stay as busy as you can even at the very real risk of death by childbirth. I read that the girl who later married Andrew Jackson was on the flatboat migrating to a violent frontier — very near to where I live — and her sister lost her firstborn baby during an Indian raid. They hid in the bushes on shore and when they reassembled on the boat, the baby had been left behind and it was impossible to go after him. The young mother narrowly escaped permanent insanity by bearing 16 children and never forgetting.

A lady at work dismays at her granddaughters’ inability to put up with what she had to endure growing up but in the next breath she admits she couldn’t have lived in her grandmother’s world either. I hear that. I was one of the rare ones who wanted to know everything about the ancestral past while keeping maybe one eye on the present.

I’ve been re-reading my all time favorite historical novels by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Her style is so easy but very real. You helplessly watch the clouds of locusts approach, feel the hot sun through a cotton bonnet, you hear the non-stop prairie winds and the thunder in the distance. We’re surrounded by hills and trees here in Tennessee. I remember being on the prairies. I know the difference trees and hills make when the temperature is the same 90 or 95 under a cloudless sky. How did they do it? Some didn’t make it. Some turned back.

How many miles can the eye really see across flat land? Flat is flat. On this last trip as on others, we drove out of the open rolling areas of southeastern Indiana, flatter than Kentucky which is flatter than Tennessee, to flat central Indiana but as we approached the eastern border of Illinois it seemed to go from flat to flatter to flatterer. It’s the same story going across Iowa to Nebraska to eastern Colorado.

Out there you can see thunderheads on the horizon that are probably pummeling the neighboring state, not knowing if it’s coming after you or not. If you are very still you can hear the thunder. At night you can see the flicker of the lighting on the horizon’s razor edge and imagine you can feel in the soles of your feet the earth shuddering in response. Imagine sitting around the campfire with only a wagon and starlight between you and the animals, the natives or the thunder. No one was so naive or such a romantic that they would dare let down their defenses and ignore the very real possibility of a sudden and violent death, yet they risked it willingly for a better future than they had had.

Close your eyes. Go back to that time of uncertainty and danger. Make the decision to pack up a wagon and rebuild literally from the ground up with not a single Holiday Inn or Cracker Barrel in sight. Leave parents, friends, and cousins knowing it could be the last time you see them. Yet …. in hindsight, for them the future was bright and simple. The pioneers had a singleness of purpose, a common goal, unlike today. Where is the unity of thought and purpose today?

There is thunder in the distance. We can’t afford to be naive and comfortable as we sit around our campfires ignoring the very real probability of our world crashing around us, our freedoms lost forever as we stubbornly clutch onto them. The dangers surround us, the storms in the distance are signaled by the low rumble of thunder and are indeed coming toward us.

Do you hear the thunder?

There are bad people

A bad man is dead.

Yes, Virginia, there are bad people!! jPeople are taught do and be bad or to do and be good. Because human nature is innately selfish, bad is an easy road. But there ARE bad people who do bad things. HOW we deal with it tells the world who we are.

Back in the first quarter of the 20th century, Father Flanagan founded Boy’s Town, a place for troubled young boys to make a fresh start at a good life. In the 1938 film starring Spencer Tracey and Mickey Rooney, the motto was “There is no such thing as a bad boy.” True. But before you tilt your head, smile sweetly, and wipe a tear from your eye, your survival depends on more than that one over simplified statement, two points of which are:

  • The age of innocence is lower than it was in 1920 and the age of reversal is not too far behind it if there is no intervention between those two points.
  • If the information taught to a child is not balanced with at least one alternative, the information taught is absolute truth e.g. evolution, ethnic or religious hatred.

The Bible tells us that the sins of the fathers are visited on the children from generation to generation. If I may be so bold as to suggest that hatred directed toward our fellow man is a sin, we can see that hatred taught by the previous generation to the young of the next is doing just that, passing the sins of the fathers to the children.

When I traveled with my parents to California in 1967, we stopped at a motel in Kansas on the way back. We were given two adjoining rooms for the price of one. In the quiet of my own room, I was able to sit up as late as I wanted and chose to watch a Billy Graham crusade. At age 17, I had not yet made my commitment to be a Christ Follower, but He was working on me. I remember thinking, like so many others, that I was young and didn’t need to worry about where I was going after I died since I was, after all, so far away from dying at age 17. As Mr. Graham was talking about sin itself, he made it clear that yes, taking a cookie from the cookie jar after being told not to was in the sin category the same as adultery, but the difference was in the heart. He said the younger generation needed to know that sexual sin in particular, especially when justified and repeated, hardens the heart. It becomes harder and harder to repent. He begged his audience to come to Jesus in their youth when the heart is still tender. Satan waits to snatch the unsaved soul at the point of death at any age and holds no pity for the sad old person in the nursing home. The choices that person made from childhood to wheelchair dictate his or her eternal home, not the level of pity projected onto him in his current helpless state.

We read in the Bible that God destroyed Israel’s enemies time after time. We also read that He disciplined Israel, sometime to the point of individual execution. If He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, where do we get the idea He winks at our indiscretions or looks the other way? Unrepentant enemies are consistently taken out at some point. And, this is important, in a state of unrepented sin, we are God’s enemy.

In our physical realm, up can only exist when compared to down. The same is true of light and dark, left and right, hot and cold, good and evil.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was taught hatred, sin, evil toward people who were not Muslim. He embraced it and acted on it with zeal. Yes, I am humbled to think that someone who has practiced evil and by choice repeatedly refused to repent of sin and accept Yeshua Messiah will burn in fire forever. It sends shivers through me that as he and others are plummeted into that molten lake of fire, they are suddenly in full realization of their mistakes and their inability to reverse their decisions.

Choice. Zarqawi was not ignorant. He couldn’t help being exposed in today’s world to other choices. But at some point he was hardened and less likely to consider any other options but hatred and hatred’s child, justification.

He beheaded an American Jew with a rusty blade. On film. The victim being a Jew garnered extra points for the killer, as hatred for Jews in particular is taught in the Koran giving him extra pleasure. The victim screamed as Zarqawi shouted “ALLAH!” He beheaded others, killed his own people — men, women, children — indiscriminately, at will, without remorse. Even his own organization told him to cool it, but he didn’t.

I don’t give a flying flip what you hear about how badly our military treated poor, poor unsuspecting Zarqawi with those nasty old bombs. When Mussolini was captured and killed, it was the Italians who dragged his body through the streets. American policy does not permit or condone this.  When Zarqawi was found in the rubble, he was, according to American military policy, no longer an enemy to be taken out, but simply wounded, and was put on a stretcher and even given CPR. Someone tell me if those points were reported on CNN.

A self proclaimed enemy in the very real war on terror died.  Another takes his place. He, too, and his new team, need to either repent and stop killing, or die. No arrest, no trial, die. They are not accidentally killing, they aren’t killing because they were abused as children, they are … trained to be bad. They, as Zarqawi, have been exposed to other choices. If they too are taken out, the coalition forces are doing their jobs. It’s a war, with guns and live ammo, not a discussion, not a board game.  Soldiers are taught to kill people and break stuff.  Period.
Delbert Carlson, a WWII veteran and member of the Litchfield Christian Church, was in the second wave to hit Normandy beach. He had to step over bodies, some of them his friends, and charge the enemy at the risk of his own life. We lost 6,000+ men on D-Day, a single day, the British 4,000. For what? So we can arrest and try evil beheading enemies like Zarqawi as if they have the same American constitutional judicial rights that thousands of soldiers in wars past died to protect for US??

I can hardly wait to see a military person and thank him or her profusely for doing his duty on my behalf and encourage him to continue with pride and with my support.

Conscientious objector

So how did Dad avoid overseas duty in WWII? He didn’t go AWOL, he didn’t protest and land in the brig, neither did he talk anyone into giving him a transfer or special treatment. Military service in his day wasn’t big on individualism let alone political correctness. They put on the uniforms and followed orders. Period. And Dad had already made up his mind he would go Against the Flow (Across the Flow is second generation) of standard procedures during wartime, which is to shoot the enemy, and instead try to make friends one enemy at a time. His sarge said if he were facing an enemy who was about to kill him, he’d shoot.  Nope.  Dad would have laid down his gun just like he said he would, and not only would I, and my children and grandchildren not be here but neither would my sister Margaret, and all of her family.

Twice he was scheduled for deployment to Europe, twice the Army screwed up.

From what little I remember, Dad was a truck driver. His experience and talent in the world of auto mechanics made him a natural. I do remember him saying he was a driver in the convoy that rolled into The Soo in early 1942. I  vaguely remember him saying that he spent a large portion of his Army career stationed there.

Dad grew up in Cameron, Illinois, a tiny rural community barely qualified for the word village. If there was a doctor ever living there, I don’t know. I can assume that in those days, especially in a town like Cameron, doctors serviced a large area and accepted payments in chickens, eggs, and garden produce as well as money once in a while. I know as fact that my widowed grandmother didn’t have much to trade for medical services. Taking in ironing didn’t pay well. Osteopaths were the Murphys’ physician of choice on most occasions, things like a bad back, sore neck, and maybe more. They also could have been significanly cheaper as they weren’t and still aren’t the widely accepted medical authority that MDs are. So while stationed in The Soo , Dad slipped off the curb, twisted his back, headed straight for the osteopath, had his back treated and then told the sergeant about his injury. He immediately popped Dad into the Army hospital where they put him to bed and according to Dad, pretty much ignored him. In the meantime his company of men was shipped out without him.

He had another opportunity to see action soon enough. This time he shipped to New York to await orders for Europe, apparently close to the end of the war.

When his company arrived at the barracks, the guys rushed to claim a bunk. Dad and another soldier, being a little older and more patient waited until the “kids” calmed down, intending to settle for what bunks were left over. There were none. The sargeant placed them in a barracks just the other side of a small hill that had some bunks available. Dad said he would walk over to his company every morning to visit his buddies during the time they were there. One morning they were gone. Evidently, there were two Muphys in the group. When they shipped out, the guy checking off the names must have thought it was an error and crossed off both of them. Before Dad was reassigned for deployment, the war ended and he was sent home.

And his worn out guardian angel slumped in a chair and said “Whew!”