When Others Teach

 pearly-gates In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
(John 14:2,3)

     Believe it or not there was a time when the kids were young and so was I. A time when we sat on the porch laughing and cuttin’ up and enjoying our life. One of  those times we decided the old red oak in the back yard needed a tree house. With two young boys and the prettiest little tomboy God ever created, we climbed in the truck and headed for one of those local home improvement stores.

I was pushing a lumber cart and the kids were enjoying the ride. My middle son was singing and voicing the non-stop chat he was known for when from, I don’t know where, he said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

Now we have all heard that quote from time to time. I have a question for you. Have you ever stopped and taken the time to think what that may mean? I mean, really think about it, what does that statement say to you? I never took that time until an elderly gentleman heard my son say the quote. He stopped us, looked at my son, and with a smile on his face he said, “No son, that’s not the question. The real question is which way do the pearly gates swing?”

My son looked at me. We smiled at the gentleman and he turned and walked away.

We discussed this question while we were picking out supplies for the tree house. At first we decided that the pearly gates swung in and out. As we pushed along we decided, again, that the gates must swing back and forth. Now in the South, ya gotta get it right or you’re just plain wrong. The kids began to playfully argue over which was right when we bumped into the old gentleman, a second time, at the register.

“Did you come up with an answer?” He asked.

“Well not exactly,” replied my son, and explained the answers we had discussed.

The gentleman paid for his items, and looked into our eyes. His warm friendly gaze seemed to overtake us as he said, “You have it all wrong. It doesn’t matter if they swing in and out, or even if they swing back and forth. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if they are pearls and solid gold, or made of old barn wood. What matters is upon your arrival if they open or shut.”

He turned to walk away and the kids looked at me a little overwhelmed. That third possibility had completely escaped us.

As the day went on the kids helped build the tree house and played other games. I put the encounter aside until recently when a death in the family brought it to surface. As I began to think about the lesson the old gentleman taught me I realized he taught my children as well. I discovered that he must be right in that what really matters is when we get to those gates someday—will they be open or shut? It’s a sobering thought once you contemplate your life.

My Papaw used to say we shouldn’t worry about what others do or don’t do—only what we do. Either way if we don’t get it straight with the good Lord before we get there we will trip over it trying to get in. While we walk our individual road in this life we still must question our arrival at the pearly gates. Open or shut is determined by our relationship with others, and with our God. As the gentleman taught us that day, if we make others aware of the future and teach our children to live a righteous life before God, we will discover, together, the gates will be open, not shut, upon our arrival.

And that, my friends, is a promise from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
(1 Thessalonians 4:17)  

” OLD MAN”

Andy Oldham:

This poem touched me. I am writing my memoirs and so often remember my younger years. Yet now I am older and still dream of happiness and times of joy and peace and respect for me as an old man. I hope you enjoy this reblog. Blessings!

Originally posted on keithgarrettpoetry:

“Old Man” by Keith Garrett
Who he was did not matter to me as each day i passed his way,
On a porch swing or rocking chair he would read or listen to the world.
I gave him a smile in which he replied with a smirk from his face,
Who are you whom sits in the morning sun thinking thoughts never done.?
I am a man but once a child running from sunrise till dusk, i am a man,
I’ve seen the years and have done many things in my time, once full of energy.
‘Old man’ on your porch is sitting there all that you do, tell me your story,
Are you waiting to die as each day you grow weary from nothing at all.
You are much younger than i as there was a day when i too looked like you,
What makes you think that i…

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ON MISSIONARY EGGS AND SACRIFICE

Thanks to Google Pics

Thanks to Google Pics

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 ESV

     This old porch swing brings back so many memories of Dad. He loved to sit out here and just talk. He talked about anything, and loved to tell his life stories. I will never forget one story he told of what I call Missionary Eggs. The story took place during the Great Depression when the members of the Ladies Missionary Society were concerned that they could no longer give to missions because each family was in such a bind financially. Gathering one night to discuss ways they could give, they hashed over many ideas. After a lively and energetic discussion, the decision was made to donate all the eggs laid on Sunday’s. These would be sold and the proceeds would be given to missions.

      The ladies were excited and hens became more productive each day of the week. Pooling their monies into one account caused the missionary societies fund to grow quickly. Eggs sold for 10¢ per dozen during those years but these ladies decided to step out in faith and charge 12¢. After all, it was for missions. God began to bless their sacrifice. After several months, with good results, the ladies met to discuss how they would donate their reward. One of the ladies stated that it seemed like the hens were laying more eggs on Sunday than any other day of the week. They chuckled in agreement. She went on to say her family needed a lot of help and she couldn’t see her way to keep giving on her most productive day. (What? God is blessing this day isn’t He?) The excitement died. A few eyebrows were raised and grudging attitudes ensued.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 ESV

     Over the next few weeks anger and bitterness arrived providing silent authorization to cease giving eggs to missions except by the sanctified few. Resentfulness began to raise its repulsive countenance while the Prince of Darkness smiled when the ladies missionary society found it had a few less members at the next meeting. Those who stopped giving felt like their sacrifice was not sufficient compared to others while those who were faithful continued their commitment, but began to look down on those who no longer gave.

     It can be very disheartening when we don’t understand how someone can make a commitment and then break it just because tough times arrive. We begin to view others who don’t or can’t make the sacrifice as not really committed to God.

    When recalling the story of Cain and Abel we can see two brothers who gave their sacrifice to God. Cain killed Abel because he believed God saw Abel’s sacrifice as better. When we look closely we can see that the truth was in Abel’s heart, not his sacrifice. We can see that both gave and acceptable sacrifice but when we look at the heart of each we see that humility and faith in God made Abel’s sacrifice right in the eyes of God. Cain’s heart carried resentfulness and bitterness and he allowed it to become full of hate, resulting in the murder of his brother. When our hearts are not right with God then our sacrifice, no matter what it is, is not accepted by God.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32 ESV

     We should never judge someones heart, or their sacrifice. God will determine if it’s acceptable. Do not allow the resentment and bitterness that set in among the Ladies Missionary Society into your mind and heart. You see, even those ladies who continued to give their sacrifice noticed their heart began to change. It took an open forgiveness, and a lot of tears. The pride tangled in some throats enough a bush-hog was needed to clear it. A sweet, loving and sincere repentant of  heart in each lady  everyone’s character right again. Only then did Satan flee and God continued to bless their giving.  Once they remembered God is looking at their sacrifice individually the society was made whole again.

So as a Christian, do you harbor any resentment toward anyone? Look deep within your heart and ask God to reveal what may be a hindrance to your relationship with Him.

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.Matthew 5:23-24 ESV

Hey Dad! Hey Granddad! What a great example of love you will set for your grandchildren when they see the patriarch of the family on his knees in forgiveness and obedience to the Father. What a reward you will receive when you realize you are bringing your sacrifice to the Father with no hindrance of resentment or bitterness in your heart toward another. Again, what a great lesson you learn, and can even teach to your grandchildren in this way.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 ESV

May God give you the strength and the courage to go to that brother, or sister, and ask their forgiveness today.

Amen!

A Letter To My Best Friend ~

In March I was privileged to see my old friend Mo and his wife Nancy. We had a great time telling old stories and laughing our heads off at the crazy and ridiculous things we had done in our men made of steel years. While driving back to Mississippi I thought of another. I wrote a letter to Mo imploring one more laugh. I want to take a moment to share that with you now.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Andy & Mo

Andy & Mo

Hey My Friend!

I am sorry I have tarried in sending you this story Mo, please forgive? It’s a short story; nonetheless it is one of those we have forgotten until something in the present triggers this old pea brain into action. Let me see if I can jar your memory a little.

The war in Viet Nam had ended and I had just returned home from the Air Force base in Minot, ND. You invited me to go hunting on the land of a farmer you knew there around Anderson. We trucked through the woods and really enjoyed seeing ABSOLUTELY nothing to hunt. It was the friendship and fellowship that was most important. With the exception of a few black birds, or sparrows or something of the like, there was really no wildlife around anywhere. I do remember we found a playground of sorts that someone had built for kids and teenagers to play on. That was pretty cool too. As I recall you said the farmer built it for his grandchildren.

As we continued to walk through the woods, running our mouths and having a good time, we came upon a tree with the prettiest nuts growing on it. They were all over the tree and the ground. Neither of us had ever seen a nut like this so we began to pick them up and study them. You decided that because it was so dad-gummed pretty it had to be edible. First you tried to break one open by crushing two nuts against each other in your hands. That didn’t work so you put one in your mouth and began trying to crack it open with your teeth. About the same time you successfully heard a crack our good lord sent you and me an angel of protection from our own ignorant stupidity.
Out of nowhere came a voice.

“What are you boys doing on my land?”

“Hunting,” I said.

“Who gave you permission to hunt on my land?

Then, rolling the nut to one side of your mouth, you gave a reply explaining that you received permission from your farmer friend.
This farmer now assured us that we had crossed on to his land. Because the fence was down we hadn’t see the property line and he asked us politely to leave. We agreed.

Before we did however you asked, with a mouth full of nut particles, “Do you know what kind of nuts these are?”

Buckeye Tree Nut Seed

Buckeye Tree Nut Seed

The farmers horizontal grin widened almost vertically. I will never forget the look on your face when he said, “That’s a Buckeye, and it’s poisonous enough to kill a bull.”

With a look of terror you began to spit Buckeye all over me and the farmer, the ground, and anything else that got in the way of you casting out Buckeye like an unwanted demon. The farmer and I laughed our heads off.

It is a fond memory and one I was reminded of a Dick’s house (my lil’ brother) when I saw a buckeye tree with prettiest little nuts on it and lying all over the ground!
You can preach this Mo! The moral is simple. We must be careful to take care of our bodies, by knowing that what we put in our mouth is not poisonous. Too, we must be careful of what we place in our hearts and our minds. Just because it is pretty does not mean it is good for us. We must be watchful that it provides life and not a slow poisonous eternal death.

Love ya Bro, Thanks for a great day of eating and wonderful fellowship with you and Nancy. I hope we don’t wait another 34 years before we meet again. If we do, be sure to bring your hearing aids and jet propelled wheel chair–we’ll race through those woods of yours!

You friend and brother,
Andy

Mo & Nancy

Mo & Nancy

My Sinful Heart ~ NaPoWriMo (Day 17)

Andy Oldham:

This post is too profound not to share with all of you! I pray it will hit you in the heart with the same intensity it did for me! Blessings to all of you this Easter week! He is ALIVE!

Originally posted on The Sanctuary of My Heart:

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I feel Him set His eyes towards me
Offering the safety of His wings.
He holds the truth that shall set free;
My sinful heart rejects these things.

He comes to sweep this temple clean~
Create in me a house of prayer.
Wanting to purge what comes between,
My sinful heart seems not to care.

I eat the bread and drink the wine;
I sense the sin I can’t deny.
The kiss upon His cheek is mine;
My sinful heart shouts, “Crucify!”

Upon the cross, I see His tear;
His agony no one relieves.
Our eyes meet, and I see so clear;
My sinful heart weeps and believes.

Outside the tomb I sit and cry;
Emotions fill me to the brim.
He is not here! He did not die!
My sinful heart belongs to Him!

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NaPoWriMo 2014 

~ Day 17  ~

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Poetry:…

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One Delicious Memory

Chocolate Pie! Nothing Better!

Chocolate Pie!
Nothing Better!

     Simpson was my most favorite town to live in while growing up. Anderson, IN was the second but that is for another memoir. Simpson, to this day, is a quiet little town in the middle of nowhere. Located in Vernon Parish Louisiana, the population remains around five-hundred. Dad was called there to pastor one of two hopeful congregations. This particular memoir will not describe all the memories of those days lived in this delightful place. This is simply an excerpt from those pages.
Back-in-the-day as we say in 2014, pastors invited other pastors, evangelist, or guest preachers to come to their church for week-long revivals. I enjoyed them for one particular reason. Food! Yup, that’s right. The county folk love to shower the guest minister with food, and especially sweets. Now I was blessed to carry extra weight as a child—I still am. I guess it was occasions like this that added a few more pounds.
I was nine years old in the summer of 1959. The evangelist was Bill Livingston. He was a tall and slender man with a perfect head of white hair. Unlike my Dad who had little hair, his was combed to perfection with Brylcream (“a little dab’l do ya”). He had been a missionary, somewhere, I don’t know where, and was now speaking for a week in our church. Best of all he was going to stay at our house—in my room.
I sat on the front porch patiently waiting. For what you asked? Food, of course. The townspeople would gradually start bringing plates and bowls of butter beans, cornbread, and sweet potatoes. Fresh beef one day, pork chops the next. Sometimes a little venison would come as a welcome surprise. Oh my, I could not begin to describe the amount of food coming in. My job was to be the scout. Of course I created the position; it was all mine. Being the scout meant I got to greet our neighbors and receive bowls and platters of food. While they stood and talked to Dad and Reverend Livingston I continued to the kitchen with the vittles. Though not a written job description secret agent was apart of the task. We had a guest and it was my job to protect him from harm and see just what everyone brought. We sure didn’t want Reverend Livingston to get sick now did we? I was really looking for one singular dish among one particular category of food.
Sweets galore! Yum! Lemon pie (yuck). Coconut pie, well okay. Chocolate pie, where was it? There was never a chocolate pie. I was hurt. I was devastated that someone, anyone, would not bring this guest speaker a chocolate pie. Smile. Day after day I grew weary. Scouting was no longer any fun. No chocolate pie…no chocolate p…no choc….six days and disappoint arrived. I had given up hope until the last day of the revival. I just knew the neighbors were saving the best for last. Before church, during church and after church the plates arrived covered and ready for my inspection. Still, no chocolate pie. Disillusionment accompanied by dejection and annoyance set in.
That last Sunday evening I sat in church listening to the last sermon. I could only think of one thing and I knew it was not going to happen, until…well…the sermon was over. Bill Livingston began to thank everyone for such loving hospitality. The welcome was great; the responses to his messages each evening were amazing.
His last words were, “I cannot begin to tell you how incredible the food was at each night.” He went on and on about it. He made the congregation chuckle when he said he had gained ten pounds. The real laughter came with his last statement. “I need you to do me a favor please. Andy has looked at the delicious food you brought each night. He was also disappointed every single day that there was never a chocolate pie. Will someone please bake Andy a chocolate pie this week?”
The entire church broke into laughter. I was on the floor and under the pew. His words showered me more attention than I have ever had and it was no drizzle either. I was drenched in torment and pesterin’ for weeks. Oh, you ask, did anyone bring a chocolate pie? Well, of course, five of them—that week! Yes in deedy, I made myself sick on chocolate pie and I didn’t mind one little bit. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

© Copyright 2014

     One more word. I hope you enjoyed One Delicious Memory. It is written from my memoirs. This will be my last post for some time. I have so much writing I want to do and finish and just don’t seem to have the time to do so. I want to target on my memoirs. There are two writing task I feel the good Lord has given me as well. I need to focus on all of these. I must say this blogging thingy is amazing. I have met some wonderful people here and I will carry you in my heart always. Thank you for following and blessing this simple old man and for the undeserved blessings you have bestowed upon me with your comments and love. Blessings to you all!

Love,
lil’ol’me

Living With Regret?

Blog - Hair 1960s_editd 1

Have you ever done anything you regret? Oh come on, you know you have; we all have. Recently, in my memoir club we challenged each other to pick one of those regrets and write about it. I want to share that with you here.

“I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.
And when you have turned back,
strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:32 (NIV)

When I think of what I regret most, my first inclination is to bring all the negative aspects of my past to surface and choose one that is the most memorable in the graveyard of dishonor. I ask myself, is it good to open old wounds and slice through the scar tissue of anguish and compunction of these unfortunate decisions? If I must walk through this byproduct of life to winnow the chaff from the wheat I will do so with a contrite heart as I have learned that to dwell on these things is to once again relive them in condemned silence. I cannot bring myself to agonize and grieve over the most indelible and disheartening of regrets so I will share just one small detail of being a sixteen year old boy. To bring this account to the forefront of today I will choose to make it an affirmation and remind myself as to the good that has come from it.

If you were to ask my family they would tell you that as a teenager I was never one to think things through before acting on impulse. Like any teenager I loved to spend money. When the opportunity to leave my first job as a chicken breader at KFC and be a stock boy at Madden Drug Store came along I jumped at it.

Two blocks from the store was a Pentecostal Bible College. Men dressed very nice and the ladies wore long dresses and piled their hair on top of their heads. I could not, for the life me, understand why a woman would wear no makeup and have such a heavy head of hair. I was about to find out.

Blog - Hair 2 - 1960s_edited 1

One of the ladies came to work with me and we hit it off pretty well including joking around with each other. One day I asked about her makeup and, why she didn’t wear any. She told me that her faith did not allow her to wear it. So, I took the opportunity to ask about her hair. She informed me that it has never been cut or even trimmed and, yes, it did become quite heavy sometimes as well as hot in the summers, and that it, too, was a part of her faith.

I was puzzled but accepted her explanation and went about stocking. One day we were behind the counter moving some things around when she bent over. I had a pair of scissors in my hand and when I saw her long hair the impulse to cut a piece of it was irresistible, so I did.
She snapped around and I handed her a lock of hair with a smile. Her eyes filled with the mercury of naked despair. Fear blended with a deep, red flushed face and merged with the anguish in her eyes.

“What have you done?” She shouted.

The grin on my face turned to confused melancholy. I couldn’t answer as I really did not believe it was that big of a deal. It was only a joke. She ran to the back of the store in tears, talked with the pharmacist and left. Several days passed before we worked together again. This separation gave me time to reflect on what I had done. I determined that I was not only stupid, but inconsiderate. I put my funny antics ahead of her personal and spiritual welfare. I had really hurt someone deeply without consideration of her faith. I felt like a jerk! I was a jerk!

When she returned to work I walked up to her and apologized to her. You know what? She hugged my neck. Tears rolled down her face. She looked me in the eyes and smiled. “I have prayed for you Andy, and I forgive you.” (Luke 22:32)

WoW! There is a profound lesson here. It is found in Christ forgiveness of Peter. He prayed for Peter. He strengthened Peter through that prayer. He taught Peter a lesson through that prayer—through that forgiveness. He taught Peter to turn back to what he had been taught and move on from that mistake and not hold on to the regret. He taught Peter to encourage others and strengthen them, “…And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

You see, this young college student did the same thing. She prayed for me. She forgave me. She strengthened me. While I am human and remember such stories as this one, I have moved on—strengthened.

Though so long ago, this regret follows my every step and has become a thorn in my side. Each time I see a Pentecostal woman with no makeup and long hair, I am reminded of my apathy for someone who did not deserve my ignorance and careless actions. For even though our faith is different we serve the same loving God.

“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord”
(1 Corinthians 12:5).

I could go on and on about regrets and what we as Christians should or could do to handle them. I want to leave this message with you however and just ask a simple question.

Can you move on?

God has made the way for you today if you will follow His path. Turn back and when you do strengthen your brothers!

Blessings!