18 November 2008

In Everything, Give Thanks

In I Thessalonians 5:18 the apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” A preacher by the name of Martin Rinkhard wrote the lyrics of the song, “Now Thank We All Our God” to be used as an expression of gratitude by his family at meal time. The unusual background of this song of praise was that it was written during the “Thirty Year’s War” when the preacher was conducting as many as forty funerals a day, including that of his own wife. Yet in spite of war and plagues, he was able to give thanks to God for his blessings. This true story amazes me but it does not surprise me. It seems that in times of extreme and difficult circumstances, people who believe in God can find in their heart expressions of gratitude. In contrast when a nation is greatly blessed with a bounty of material and physical substances there is a tendency of man to forget the source of such blessings.

It was said that the Lord sent two angels to earth to gather the petitions and thanksgivings made by His followers. Both angels returned to heaven in distress. The angel bearing the petitions was truly weighed down with his burden. The other angel bringing the prayers of thanksgivings was nearly empty handed. The lesson is obvious and clear. Most of God’s children are more apt to make requests, petitions and supplications rather than the giving of thanks. The nation that is greatly blessed with a bounty of material and physical substance is most likely to forget the source of such blessings. The writer James declared that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The psalmist encourages us by his response from being a recipient of God’s blessings in this manner, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people.” “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And I will call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12, 13, 14, 17).

The children of the Heavenly Father should remember daily the blessings that flow from His bountiful hand of grace. Especially there should be an awareness of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Everyday is Thanksgiving for the redeemed. However it is good that families and friends can be together on the national day of Thanksgiving. Let us never forget the sacrifices made by our forefathers and loved ones to ensure us of the liberties and freedoms we now enjoy and experience. “O, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8). “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2).
“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”

28 October 2008

Re-Living the Past

On Saturday, October 18, 2008, my wife and I attended the annual picnic of my 1953 high school senior class, which was held at the foot of beautiful Taylor Ridge just east of Summerville which is located in the northwest corner of the state of Georgia . In 2003 we had our 50th class reunion and decided at that time that we would not wait until another 50 years before we got together. Since 2003 we have met five times for a picnic in the month of October each year to visit and talk of the past and of what is happening in our lives presently. It was a most enjoyable occasion.
It is remarkable how my classmates have aged over the years. I did feel uncomfortable with these old people but I treated them with dignity and respect. If they needed my help in getting around I tried to accommodate them. Many of them have gray hair or no hair; they have added weight to their bodies and wrinkles to their faces inasmuch that they hardly recognized me (Smile). Seriously we often spoke of the years together at Summerville High School and of the precious memories that were made when we were young and life was not so complicated. I reminisced with Bobby G. when we worked together at the Summerville News and fed the folding machine most of the nights on Wednesdays. I refreshed the memory of Elliott C. about the time we went up the side of a ridge in his father’s army jeep and the incline being so steep that I sat on the hood of the jeep so it would not flip over. I believe that it is unusual for a senior high school class to still be meeting annually after so many years have passed.
We have lost several members over the years but the ones remaining continue to enjoy one another’s company. There is nothing like having old friends and enjoying one another’s company even if it is but once a year. We made plans to meet again in 2009 at the same place between the two lakes at the foot of beautiful Taylor Ridge , the Lord willing (James 4:15).

After spending Saturday night with a loved one on Sand Mountain in the community of Henagar, Alabama and worshiping with the Ider church on Sunday morning we drove over to the city of Arab where I was scheduled to speak in their ‘Super Sundays’ series that evening. Ken Tyler has been preaching for this good congregation for thirty years. That says a great deal about the character of him, his family and the brothers and sisters who make up the local church. This was my first visit to Arab and the congregation.

Prior to the worship hour, a gentleman and his wife walked up to me in the foyer and he looked me in the eyes and asked, “Do you remember where you were in September of 1964?” My mind really went into high gear and I was trying to figure out what he had in mind and so I answered, “Maybe performing a ceremony?” I was thinking of a wedding because I cannot recall all the names and faces of those couples that I have married the past 50+ years. He replied, “Well, sort of” and then he said, “You were in my home 44 years ago in Albany , Georgia .” It was then I remembered working in a campaign in that city when Harvey Starling was preaching nightly under his big tent. My family and I were living in Elba , Alabama at that time. Charlie Boddy was preaching for the College Avenue congregation in Enterprise and he and I were personal workers during the city-wide campaign in Albany . We had home Bible studies with various ones during that week and we taught and baptized three persons. One was a gentleman whose wife was a member of the church. Standing right in front of me was that individual. He was stationed in the Air Force and he and his family were living in Albany. This brother also informed me that he had been preaching since 1971. His name is James Mansil Norris.

I was moved emotionally when he related how Charlie and I had taught him the gospel and how he had been immersed into Jesus Christ for the remission of his sins. This is what I had written in my record book of September 21-26, 1964: “This week, Monday to Saturday, brother Charlie Boddy of Enterprise and I worked as personal workers in the “Savior’s Way Campaign” conducted in Albany , Georgia . We taught three persons enough to lead them to Christ. They were: Mr. James M. Norris (Tues. night); Mrs. Shipman (Thurs. afternoon); and Mrs. Susan Moore (Thursday night). This was a wonderful experience to work in such a great and wonderful effort.” Brother Norris now preaches for the Blessing congregation on Sand Mountain . I had to relate this story to the congregation before I began my lesson that night. It humbles me that I had a part in leading this person to Jesus and it is to God that I give the glory for He is the one who gives the increase (I Corinthians 3:5-8).

We spent Sunday night with Ray and Jo Ann Humphries, a couple we have known since our days at Alabama Christian College on Ann Street in Montgomery during the mid 1950s. We also followed them where Ray had preached in the cities of Ozark and Opp , Alabama . They live in the beautiful country near Joppa. We enjoyed our visit with them so much. We talked about the old days at ACC when life was tough, economically speaking and the people who had influenced our lives for good. We spoke of the various members of the congregations where we both had served as preachers. It was a good visit and they were such great hosts. Ray and Jo Ann have influenced many souls for Jesus Christ during their life time. Such friends have enriched our lives.

One of life’s greatest blessings is that of Christian friendship. When the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13 that he forgot “those things which are behind” he did not mean that there was a complete failure to remember all things because he recalled that prior to his conversion he fought against the church of our Lord (I Timothy 1:13) but such memories did not prevent him from looking ahead in his Christian journey and work. Often our memories of years past help us to have stability and cause us to appreciate from whence we have come. Glancing back over the years can actually encourage us to look ahead of the challenges that will confront us. With the exception of one phrase the following poem expresses some of my innermost thoughts.

Won’t you reminisce with me
From days so long ago?
Please come and look back with me
At the things we used to know.
Won’t you reminisce with me
The things we used to do?
The things we said, the ways we danced,
Memories dear and true.
Won’t you reminisce with me?
It’s sure to wet your eye.
Remembering all the happy times
That now have said goodbye.
And if you’ll stroll down Memory lane
Then I can guarantee,
You’ll have a blast back in the past…
If you reminisce with me.
~ Alyssa Marie Bentham

10 October 2008

A Girl Named Skylar

A long time before this beautiful girl named Skylar was born, I visited the church where she and her family worshiped together. It was in 1953 or 1954, I was a freshman in college at the time, and went with a preacher friend and his family one Sunday to worship with this group of Christians. I remember it so well because the brethren at that time used real wine in the communion. I didn’t know it was wine, and not just grape juice, before I drank it but I will guarantee you that I knew it was wine after I swallowed it. Forget worship, I coughed and gagged for the next thirty minutes.

This small congregation is located just south of a community called Deatsville, Alabama. The building sets a good distance off the highway. There are massive oak trees practically on every side of the building with large roots protruding from the ground. The steps leading up to the front entrance are steep and many. The setting is serene and pastoral as a rural church building should be. Over the intervening years I have preached in gospel meetings, spoken on special occasions and have ‘filled in’ for the regular preacher for this congregation numerous times. During these visits with the Cold Springs Church I became acquainted with most of the families that attend the assemblies there. And that brings me to Skylar Norton.

On the Sunday mornings when Virginia and I would arrive at the church building for Sunday School usually Rick and his two children would already be there. Jamie, the wife and mother would arrive later. The father would open the building and he and his two children, Skylar and Tyler would begin various duties. Usually Tyler would begin sweeping the leaves off the front porch and the steps. Skylar would go to the room where the communion bread and grape juice were located. She then would prepare the communion for use in the worship assemblies. It seems that this was her job. She did it for a long time. Virginia tried to help her once and she replied kindly, “I can do it myself.” Skylar was a beautiful and sweet child. You could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice. She was always ‘lady-like’.

She was a Daddy’s girl. He would take her hunting with him and give her the opportunity to harvest a deer. She and her younger brother were inseparable. She was greatly loved by all her family. I knew her grandfather Tillman while we were in college. It was on a Friday evening of October 3, 2008 that as a member of the Holtville High School Marching Band she was preparing for the football game that old Death descended like a tornado and struck down this precious thirteen year old child in the presence of her classmates. But Death did not get the victory because God sent His angels quickly to gather the spirit of Skylar and brought that lovely child to rest in a paradise prepared for His children.

There was much rejoicing by the host of angels that such a beautiful child had been brought home. But on this side of eternity there were the hearts of her father, mother, brother and all her family and friends that were broken. There were uncontrollable emotions being vented through the rivers of tears that were being shed. As frail human beings we began to ask “Why”? It is not that we doubted God but as little children we just did not understand why such a beautiful child as Skylar should have her short life to end so soon on this earth. When all the disasters struck Job and that included the deaths of his ten children he still said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Perhaps in that better land we will know the answers to our questions about the tragedies we have had to suffer in this life. Here is a rather lengthy poem I want to leave with you that hopefully it will give comfort to her parents and loved ones.

(Author unknown)

“I’ll lend you, for a little while,
A child of mine,” God said,
“For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he’s dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three;
But will you, ‘til I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
And, should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories
As a solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return;
But there are lessons taught below
I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the whole world over
In search for teachers true;
And from the things that crowd life’s land
I have chosen you.

Now, will you give him all your love
Nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take
This lent child back again?

I fancied that I heard them say:
“Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joys Thy child will bring
The risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may –
And for the happiness we’ve known
Forever grateful stay.

But should Thy Angel call for him
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand.”

04 October 2008

A Heart Warming Story

You could not help but to be touched by the moving story related in the local newspaper a few years ago regarding a young boy’s death and his last request, that his heart be given to a girl he secretly loved. You see she was dying because her heart was malfunctioning. She faced certain death unless a donor could be found to give her a healthy heart. It was a true story that books are written about and movies are made. In a world wherein most of the news deals with crime, violence, threats of war, famines, earthquakes and other disasters, natural and man-made, it was so heart warming to hear of a tender story that made you feel sad and happy at the same time. It was sad because a young boy died, but happy that a young girl’s life had been prolonged.

There is another sweet story recorded in the Holy Scriptures that should move us to tears because of the death of a young man, Jesus of Nazareth, age 33. You see he knew that mankind was suffering from an awful malady. The sickness from which there was no earthly cure was a fatal heart disease called sin. The prophet Jeremiah described the symptoms in this manner: “The heart if deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)? The only remedy was the precious blood of the Lamb of God (Ephesians 1:7). But, this meant that Jesus would have to die for all men. His death on Calvary was not by accident. It was “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23 ). Furthermore, the Lord willingly laid down his life for us (John 10:15, 17, 18). “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ).

If you would be saved from sin and a fate worse than physical death, you must respond to heaven’s gift, the death of Jesus Christ on your behalf. Please consider that Jesus loved you and shed his precious blood for you nearly two thousand years ago. Please obey from the heart the gospel of Jesus Christ that you might be free from sin and that you might live a new life in the Lord (Romans 6:17, 18; 2 Corinthians 5:17 ).

If the story about the boy who died and donated his heart to a girl he loved so that she might live touches you, you should be moved emotionally at the tender story of Jesus and his love that motivated him to give his life on Calvary that you might be saved now from sin and have the hope of eternal life with Him and all the redeemed.

28 August 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

Well, many folk have prayed for rain because of the drought condition in the southeastern section of our country and the good Lord sent it. The problem was that some areas were flooded. I am reminded of the story of some brethren in west Texas who became greatly concerned about the extreme drought conditions in their part of the world. They decided to obtain the services of a preacher to come and pray for rain. Finally they found a city preacher to come out and pray for rain. He came and prayed fervently for the Lord to send rain upon the arid land. After a couple of days had passed the rain began to fall. In fact it rained until all the land was flooded and the situation became very serious. The brethren became very concerned again because all their properties were inundated with water. They came together to discuss what they should do. One brother was heard to have said, “That is what we get by having a preacher to pray for rain who knew nothing about agriculture.”

You know life is much like that. There are times of peace, joy, happiness and good health. These are mountain top experiences. But in a moment of time things can radically change. The prophet Elijah was successful on Mount Carmel but in a short time he was to be found in a deep valley of discouragement and he desired to die (1 Kings 18; 19:4). This mighty man of God was human after all and not unlike ourselves (James 5:17). The good times do not test our strength and faith. It is when the tragedies of life occur. It is when death invades our home. It is when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal disease. It is when the ill winds of discouragement and despair howl strongly across the depths of our inner being. It is when you pray for a friend or a loved one to get well and doesn’t and he dies. It is when you lose your job and you have to look elsewhere for employment. And there are dozens of other reasons why your heart becomes burdened down with anxiety and sadness.

Please excuse the personal experiences but I must mention some of them. My lovely bride has and is presently experiencing some health problems; there was the sudden death of a dear friend that has overwhelmed me; a telephone call this morning informed me that a brother-in-law was critically injured yesterday in an automobile accident. Life is not a bed of roses. Sometimes the valleys in life are deep and long. But it is not a time to give up. Blaming God and leaving the Lord would not be answer. Gold refined by fire rids the dross and makes it purer. I think of this passage in Proverbs 24:10, “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small” in connection to that which I am now discussing.

There was a time when many of the disciples of the Lord left Him and He asked His own apostles, “Do you also want to go away?” It was then that Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. “Also we have come to believe and know You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:66-69). It is in the valleys of life that I need Him. He has never forsaken me and why should I forsake him. He is my Rock and my salvation. He is my Hightower; my shelter in the time of the storms. He gives me comfort in the night. His strength is greatly manifested in weakness.

I often requested of Him to bestow His grace upon me so that I might see the sun beyond the overcast and the silver lining behind every cloud. And His grace is sufficient for me. A moving verse is found in James 4:6 which is a simple but a very profound statement, “But He gives more grace.” Listen to this precious promise of our Heavenly Father, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15). The following hymn explains best what I am trying to say.

By Annie J. Flint
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

28 July 2008

Drifting Away

The inspired writer of the book of Hebrews gave an exhortation in chapter two encouraging those early Christians to “…give more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.” There is a constant need to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and sound doctrine to every generation. There is the danger of the untaught not learning and of the taught drifting away from that which they have learned. The apostle Peter felt it necessary to remind his brethren of those essentials which they already knew (2 Peter 1:13; 3:1). Paul warned Timothy about a time when certain ones would no longer “endure the sound doctrine”, thus the need to “preach the word” continuously (2 Timothy 4:1-4). There is presently a yearning among many in the church to learn ‘new things’. Of course we should not extol traditions to a position of inspiration. Personally, I’m not interested in propagating mere tradition; however, there are objective truths revealed by the Holy Spirit that are essential and must studied, examined and proclaimed.

The desire to imitate other religious organizations in practice and teaching has caused many people to frown on the old ways of safety and security. Others, not studying the Holy Scriptures, are led away by “every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men in craftiness, after the wiles of error” (Ephesians 4:14). Often when one expresses a desire for ‘new things’, it is simply a rejection of ‘old truths’. Presently there is a prevalent attitude that the Bible is antiquated and should be relegated to the 18th century. The 21st century, they say, demands a more liberal view of the Holy Scriptures. In other words, our culture should determine the interpretation of the Word of God. What may have been acceptable in the first century is out of date in the thinking of modern men and women. Such rationalization has led to a digression and apostasy from the teaching of Jesus Christ and the holy apostles and prophets.

Oh that we today, as disciples of the Lord, would possess the same spirit as did the psalmist when he exclaimed in Psalms 119:97, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” His will for us to follow is both relevant and refreshing. Let us never grow weary in hearing the words of salvation. It gives strength and guidance in our earthly pilgrimage. And if obeyed, the promise of eternal life when the journey on earth is finished (2 Timothy 4:4-6)

09 July 2008

The Giving of Thanks

Our blessed Lord taught, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7, 8). The apostle wrote in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made to God…”

As children of God we have the words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (through Paul) informing us that we have the wonderful privilege of asking, making supplications and requests and our God will hear us. The fact is we probably ask more in our prayers than we do in the giving of thanks for His infinite grace through which He bestows an abundance of blessings upon us. For example, brethren often fail to give thanks for the food that is about to be eaten. A brother is usually requested to “ask the blessing” or to “bless the food”. And so many times the brother will ask the lord to “bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies in your service” and there is nothing wrong in that request. But what we fail to do is to express our gratitude for the food that we have received as a blessing from God. It is on this point that I would like to emphasize in this article so that we all might be mindful of our need to give thanks, not only for our food but for all the blessings of life that God has given us. The writer James states that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

Concerning the giving of thanks specifically for our food, consider the example of Jesus Christ. In the feeding of the four thousand men plus women and children Matthew wrote, “And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude” (Matthew 15:36). On another occasion when He fed the five thousands John wrote, “And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:11, 23).

Then there is the example of the apostle Paul giving thanks before he ate food that had been given as a blessing from God. He was on his way to Rome as a prisoner and the boat in which he was traveling was in serious trouble and was about to sink. The people on board had not eaten in fourteen days and Paul encouraged them to take nourishment. In Acts 27:35 we read, “And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat.” In matters of judgment Paul wrote the following in Romans 14:6, “…He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.” The apostle later wrote in I Timothy 4:4, 5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (Emphasis is mine in the above verses, RE). In our prayer before our meals let it be one of thanksgiving for the food that we are about to receive along with other expressions of praise and requests.

26 June 2008

Weddings and Marriage

The month of June is normally a time for weddings. You can see pictures in the local newspapers of a number of couples who have ‘tied the knot’ and they look so happy and blissful. Young love is simply a beautiful thing. It makes the world go around. It makes ‘old timers’ reflect over the intervening years when they went through the same experience. Isn’t life wonderful? In the midst of so much ‘gloom and doom’ it is good for us all to pause and consider some lighter moments regarding matrimony and the time honored event that we call a wedding. In my years of preaching I have performed several weddings for young couples. There have been some unusual happenings that occurred before, during and after the actual ceremony. I must begin with my own personal experience.

I went all the way to Wildwood, Florida , to meet who I hoped would be my future in-laws. Now brother Sam Slaughter was an impressive looking gentleman from the old school. He had worked for the Seaboard Airline Railroad for many years when I first met him. He also had cattle on his farm that was located between Wildwood and Oxford , just off of U. S. Highway 301. I finally got up enough courage to ask him if I could marry his daughter. Well, would you like to know what he asked me in return? Out of the blue he asked, “Can you hitch up a team of mules?” My integrity was immediately tested. I had to reply in the negative. Brother Sam later said to brother Orvel Boyd in my presence, “Here this young man wants to marry my daughter and he can’t even hitch up a team of mules.” Now I have never understood the connection between hitching a team of mules and marrying the love of my life. I really think he wanted to know if I knew how to provide for his middle daughter. I did go ahead and marry his daughter and to this day I still don’t know how to hitch up a team of mules.

I have been requested to perform wedding ceremonies for many couples but never in this fashion. I was visiting in the hospital in the city where I was preaching when a lady who was employed by the hospital approached me in the hall. Now this lady was a member of a congregation in a different city and she knew me and I had seen her on occasions during gospel meetings, etc. She walked up to me and the first words she spoke to me were, “Will you marry me?” Now I had never been asked exactly that way before, not even when I was single. I knew what she meant but having a sense of humor I had some difficulty in answering her in a collective manner but I did and I said I would.

The ceremony that I have used over the years has been a traditional one. I remember on one occasion the young lady said to me during the rehearsal that she did not want the part of the vows used that had her to repeat “to obey” her prospective husband. I didn’t use it and I don’t think she did. Someone didn’t obey someone because the marriage failed after a few years.

In one wedding the father of the bride was unable, because of sickness, to give his lovely daughter in marriage so her brother was chosen to do the honor. During the rehearsal I instructed him how to bring his sister down to front of the auditorium and where they should stand in front of me. I then instructed him to reply to my question ‘Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?’ in this manner, ‘Her father and her mother.’ He smiled and took this responsibility rather lightly and I reminded him that things would be quite different during the actual ceremony so we went over this part again. It was a beautiful wedding with the men in their tuxedos and the ladies in their lovely dresses. When the time for the bride to enter, her brother escorted down to where they stood in front of the wedding party. I had some choice words about marriage and the sanctity of the home and when I had finished; I looked the bride’s brother in the eyes and asked in a very solemn manner, ‘Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?’ In all seriousness and without any hesitation he replied “Mama and Daddy” and with that he turned and sat down. Well, the groom and the bride were grinning from ear to ear and the entire wedding party was about to laugh out loud and there I stood trying my best to carrying on with the ceremony. The gentleman had no inclinations to be so formal when referring to his parents as ‘Her father and her mother.’ But I have learned whether while preaching, conducting a wedding or whatever, you have to learn to ‘roll with the punches’ and carrying on the best you can, and of course, with a sense of humor.

But on the serious side of matters I want to mention that in preaching for two different congregations recently I had three ladies to walk up to me and mention that I had married them. Two were from the same congregation. The first lady said, “You married me thirty-nine years ago and we are still together and I love you for it.” The second one informed me that I had performed her wedding ceremony thirty years ago. A younger sister in Christ and her husband reminded me that I performed their wedding twenty five years ago. The lady introduced me to a son, a handsome young man, age twenty two. I could mention several couples that I performed their wedding ceremony many years ago and who remain married to this day. Most of my friends who attended the same Christian college that I did and who married are still living together with their mates. They are proud grandparents and in some cases even great-grandparents.

My wife and I, the Lord willing, will celebrate our fifty third wedding anniversary this year (August 19). I pray that my generation will not be the last to believe that this sacred and beautiful relationship is for life. I trust there are scores of young Christian men and women who will hold marriage in high esteem as God has intended. Our Lord Jesus Christ in answering a question said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” “So then they are no longer two but one flesh, Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

To Be One With Each Other
What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together
to strengthen each other in all labour,
to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other
in the silent unspoken memories?
~George Eliot (1819-1880)

12 June 2008

Godly Fathers

One of life’s greatest blessings and challenges for a man is fatherhood. This relationship involves the greatest joys and demands the best one has to give and often will include many sorrows. A godly father loves his wife and is loyal to his marital vows (Ephesians 5:25). He desires the best for his children. A father is industrious. He labors to provide for his family and the needs of others who lack the material things of life (I Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 4:28).

The greatest contribution a father can make to his family is leadership in spiritual matters. In every age, the head of the family has been required of God to provide the proper direction regarding religious training. Modern fathers are most likely to leave this responsibility to the wife and mother. However, Paul exhorted: “And you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). It is a tremendous requirement to make sure one’s children are taught of God but the rewards are everlasting. A Christian father may not be able to give very much materially to his children but the legacy of having a father who loved his family and the Lord, surpasses everything else. The greatest inheritance a Christian father can leave is one that is rich in faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We should never underestimate the love that a father possesses in his heart for his children. His emotions may not be as noticeable as the mother; yet, the feelings are just as deep. Most fathers would give their lives on behalf of their families. Their hearts are filled with deep gratitude when they witness their children succeeding in life. The Christian father rejoices greatly when his children obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. My father will be remembered for being a fine Christian gentleman. Also, the legacy of having a good name has meant more to me than all the riches of this world. It was the wise man of old who wrote: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1); and, “A good name is better than precious ointment…” (Ecclesiastes 7:1).

Godly fathers are rare in this modern society. But, we should always be thankful for the ones who are. Truly, you are blessed indeed if you have/had a Christian father who placed Christ first in his life. His influence in your life and even in the lives of his grandchildren will be felt for many years to come. Say, have you hugged your father recently?

Fathers Are Wonderful People
by Helen Steiner Rice

Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should.
For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills.
And Father struggles daily
To live up to "his image"
As protector and provider
And "hero of the scrimmage".
And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,
But if you look inside Dad's heart,
Where no one else can see
You'll find he's sentimental
And as "soft" as he can be.
But he's so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife.
But Fathers are just wonderful
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolades of praise,
For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness.
And like Our Heavenly Father,
He's a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be always on our side.

10 June 2008

A Great Joy That Fills the Heart of a Gospel Preacher/Teacher

I arose early on Sunday morning because where I was scheduled to preach was over a hundred miles from my home. As I drove down the interstate highway I could not help but observe the beauty of the Lord’s Day morning with the sky so blue and the trees so full of green foliage. From time to time as I drove down a county road I saw beautiful flowers and some promising vegetable gardens that soon would be laden down with fresh produce. The drive was most enjoyable and even relaxing at that time of the day.

I eventually arrived at my destiny and went inside the church building in this south Alabama city of Brewton . I soon met old friends and was introduced to new friends who are members of this congregation. After the evening assembly a young father introduced himself to me. I asked his last name again because I recognized not only the name but the city where he informed me he had lived previously. I asked him his parent’s names and immediately I knew who he was when he told me that their names were James and Linda Barron. I looked at him and told him that I not only knew his parents but his grandparents.

Standing by him was his beautiful daughter which I supposed to be about twelve years old. I moved along side her and gave her a hug and said, “Let me tell you about your ancestors.” In actuality I was looking in the face of the fourth generation of the Jesse and Magdalene (Mary) Miller family. I was moved with deep emotions when I remembered the story of this family that obeyed the gospel many years ago. But before I progress in this particular story I must relate to you what transpired the following Wednesday evening when I spoke at the College Avenue congregation in the city of Enterprise, Alabama .

One of the first people I saw after entering the building was Brenda Miller Penn, the aunt of this small girl’s father I met on the previous Sunday night. You see, Brenda is a daughter of Jesse and Mary Miller and the twin sister of Linda Barron who is the grandmother of the small girl. Brenda then introduced me to her daughter and husband and their small children. As you can perceive, there is a real story about to unfold in this article.

It was in the winter of 1965-66 that the good church in Elba, Alabama where I was then preaching, heard about the Jesse Miller family that was in dire need of help because the husband/father had been seriously injured while working and was unable to provide for his family. Of course the Christian brothers and sisters supplied the needs of the family and because of the kindness and love manifested toward this family a door of opportunity was opened to study the Bible with them in their home. My good friends and brethren Roy Fuller and Harris Winston (now diseased) studied with the family and I also encouraged them as they were contemplating giving their lives to the Lord. It was on Sunday morning, January 30, 1966 that I had the wonderful privilege of immersing Mary, the mother, along with the children, Jerry, Brenda and Linda into Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins. Because of the unusually cold weather (24 degrees) for south Alabama and the serious injuries Jesse had sustained, we waited until Tuesday, February 2 to baptize him.

The members of the Elba church soon fell in love with this wonderful family. Jesse continued to mature in Christ as well as the rest of the family and later he became a deacon in the local congregation. Several years later Jesse died and Mary and the family moved some thirty miles north of Elba to the city of Troy . There they became active in the work of the Lord’s church. As the years passed by the children all married and had families of their own. Some members of the Miller family moved to other locations but one thing that stands out in my mind is the faithfulness to the Lord of the children and grandchildren and yes, even the great-grand children of Jesse and Mary Miller.

As Christians we should never underestimate the good that can be accomplished when we assist individuals and families who are in need with the necessities of life. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9, 10: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” In this life we may never fully realize the full measure of good done by the kind and benevolent acts that are shown toward others. And remember this, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love…” (Hebrews 6:10).

The decision by the Jesse Miller family to give their lives to Lord over forty-two years ago determined the direction that the future generations would travel; that is, obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ and living for Him. God has allowed me to live long enough to bear witness to this truth as I continue to meet members of this good family, even to the fourth generation. I could not help but think of what the apostle John had to say about a similar situation as found first of all in 2 John 1 when he was writing to “the elect lady and her children…” He expressed himself as recorded in verse 4: “I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.” Then in 3 John he wrote to his dear friend Gaius. He expressed himself in this manner: “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (Verses 3 & 4).

As a gospel preacher of more than fifty years I can truly say that one of life’s greatest joys is to know of the faithfulness of people who I have encouraged to give their lives to the Lord. I am mindful of the deep feelings that Paul expressed for the church in Thessalonica as found in I Thessalonians 3:7-9: “(T)herefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God…” Our young preachers and teachers should learn that while we do the planting and watering it is God who gives the increase (I Corinthians 3:6). The harvest of souls may be soon or later but it will come. Learn to be patient. I close with these thoughts from Psalms 126:5, 6

“Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy,
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.”

22 May 2008

Jesus Loved(s) Children

The lines were very long as we waited for our groceries to be checked. The Hispanic family right in front of us consisted of a lady with two of her children and a nephew she was raising. The small girl sitting in the buggy was so cute. The boys, ages eight and nine, were fine looking children. The older boy looked me straight in the eye and said, “I don’t speak English” and then he smiled from ear to ear. He was so cute and his beautiful smile and his childish humor reminded me so much of one of our grandsons who lives in North Carolina . While we were waiting we also did a lot of visiting with this family. Of course, the boys spoke good English. They said that people just assumed they spoke Spanish instead of English because of their physical appearance. In just a few minutes our hearts were touched by these beautiful children.

The mother said that they were moving back to Houston , Texas . The chances of seeing this family again is very doubtful. I could not help but to be moved emotionally when I contemplated they might not be taught of Jesus Christ. I prayed a short prayer upon arriving home for them and for all the children of the world that they might learn of Jesus. All of God’s children are beautiful and precious in His sight.

Even in our own city you see children of various races and nationalities. It doesn’t matter the color of their skin whether they are “red and yellow, black and white” they need to know of God’s saving grace and of Jesus who loves every one of them. I pray regularly that all of our grandchildren might come to know Jesus as their savior. As Christians, we should support monetarily and morally every effort to evangelize the world with the message of salvation, made possible through the death of the dear Son of God. You see the faces of the innocent children on television who have been devastated by the various natural disasters that have occurred recently and you want the very best for them. And the very best for them would be that they could be brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”.

In the accounts of Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16 and Luke 18:15-17, it is recorded that people brought little children to Jesus “that he should touch them”. Matthew wrote that “he laid his hands of them” while Mark records, “And he took them in his arms, and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.” All three witnesses mentioned that Jesus had the highest regard for the children when he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me; forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God .” Here was God incarnate in human flesh whose name was Jesus and He took the time out of his busy schedule to touch and caress these little ones and to bless them. It is to be more like our Lord when we take time to hug the children and teach them of Jesus who loves them so much.

You can have your wealth and riches all the things so many seek,
Position, power, and success, the fame you long to keep.
You can earn as much as you wish, reach a status high above,
But none of these can equal having one sweet child to love.
'Tis the greatest gift from heaven, little arms that hold you tight,
And a kiss so soft and gentle when you tuck them in at night.
A million precious questions and each story often read,
Two eyes so bright and smiling, and a darling tousled head.
God has never matched the goodness of a trusting little face,
Or a heart so full of laughter spreading sunshine every place.
A child to hold and cuddle, 'tis a gift from God above,
And the world is so much brighter when you have a child to love.
~~ Author Unknown ~~

11 May 2008

It is always good to remember a godly mother. Jesus while on the cross of shame and suffering thought of His mother and instructed John to care for her after His death (John 19:26, 27). One of the sweetest words in any language is ‘Mother’. A dictionary is not necessary to possess an understanding of such a meaningful term. Not all mothers are wives but they should be and not all wives are mother but God permitting they can be. One of the primary purposes of marriage is the propagating of the human race (Genesis 1:27). The role of motherhood should never be taken lightly nor should the status of being a mother be made light of in this modern age. There is no greater relation for a woman to sustain in this life than being a Christian mother.

Perhaps the crowning act of creation by the Lord God was the forming of woman from the side of man. God saw that it was not good for man to be alone thus He gave to him a help suitable for him. Adam later named this woman “Eve” because she was the “mother of all living” (Genesis 2:18-25; 3:20). The wise man taught that “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing” and that “a prudent wife is from Jehovah (Proverbs 18:18; 19:14). In the bringing forth of a child the husband and wife truly become one flesh. There is the binding together of the two. Motherhood is the highest honor given to woman. No matter what else she may do in life it should be secondary to her being the kind of mother that God desires.

A mother is greatly responsible for the spiritual training of her children (Proverbs 22:6). Her influence is great for good or bad. Abraham Lincoln said of his mother, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother”. An old Spanish proverb states that “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy”. Most of us have heard the old saying that “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. No doubt Queen Jezebel exerted a tremendous amount of evil influence on her husband Ahab and their wicked son Ahaziah (I Kings 16:30; 22:52, 53). Several years ago “Ma Barker” trained her sons to rob, steal and to kill. It was said that the infamous Nero had a murderess for a mother.

However the Bible is replete with examples of godly mothers who influenced their loved ones to live for the Lord. Jochebed, the mother of Moses, guided that young heart in the right way because when he became an adult, he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Numbers 26:59; Hebrews 11:24, 25). No doubt students of the Bible know of the beautiful story of Hannah and how she received a son from the Lord. This wonderful woman had promised that she would give the child “unto the Lord all the days of his life.” Hannah named her son Samuel. This young boy, at a tender age, was carried to the house of God to be taught and trained by Eli the high priest of God (I Samuel 1). Samuel became one of the truly outstanding leaders in Israel , serving God and his people as prophet, priest and judge. If there were more Hannahs in the homes there would be more preachers in the pulpits.

Jedidah was the wife of the wicked king Amon but she was also the mother of the young and good Josiah (2 Kings 22:1)). In contrast to the wickedness of his father it is said of Josiah that “he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left (2 Kings 22:2). We must conclude that his good mother and perhaps Jeremiah the prophet exerted a godly influence upon Josiah. Then consider the mother John the Baptist, Elizabeth, who walked righteous before God, “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). We also learn that she was determined to name her son John (Luke1:13, 60) Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed greatly by having been chosen of God to give birth the very Son of God (Luke 1:42). Mary was a typical mother in many ways. For instance she treasured in her heart the things said about the baby Jesus and later the things which he said (Luke 2:19, 51). Finally we mention the grandmother and mother of Timothy. These two godly women, Lois and Eunice, had taught timothy from his earliest childhood “the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15). These are some of the godly mothers mentioned in the Bible who are worthy of imitation by Christian mothers today.

A virtuous mother is industrious as is brought out by the passage of scripture in Proverbs 31:10-31. Certainly the daily chores of a mother are demanding. She is also considerate of the needs of others in her community. Dorcas was one who was “full of good works and alsmsdeeds” (Acts 9:36, 39). The widow who was to be enrolled by the church must have been “well reported of for good work…if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work” (I Timothy 5:10). Also the Christian mother and wife will be hospitable. Again from I Timothy 5:10, “…if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she hath washed the saints feet.” From Hebrews 13:2, “Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” The Shunammite woman manifested a wonderful attitude of such hospitality in regards to the prophet Elisha as recorded in 2 Kings 4:8-37. This quality of hospitality makes the home pleasant where people to love to visit.

We need always to show our respect and honor to our mother whether they are living or have died (Ephesians 6:1, 2). We can do this by living for the Lord and being the proper influence for good among our peers.

By Grace Crowell

So long as there are homes to which
Men turn—at close of day,
So long as there are homes where
Children are, and women stay,
If faith and love and loyalty are found
Across those sills,
A stricken nation can recover
From grievous ills.
So long as there are homes where
Fires burn, and there is bread,
So long as there are homes where
Lamps are lit---and prayers are said,
Though a people falter in darkness,
And nations grope,
With God himself back of these little homes,
We still have hope

07 May 2008

Makes You Think Of Your Own Mortality, Doesn't It?

These were the very words spoken by my doctor during a visit to his office following my having a stent placed in a main artery leading from my heart on Friday, May 4, 2001. My Cardiologist had been successful in the procedure to insert the stent. I know this personally because seven years later here I am writing this article. There was a ninety-five percent blockage in the artery but I had not suffered any pain which made me completely unaware of the impending danger. What I had was what doctors call ‘a widow maker.’ For extending my life to this moment of time I am very grateful to my Heavenly Father who has added seven years to my life (As in the case of Hezekiah, 15 years, Isaiah 38:4).

But this is not the only time that I have considered my own mortality. Just recently Virginia and I made new wills. Our older ones were out of date and needed revising. These were more complex since we have added ‘stuff’ to our possessions over the intervening years. Not only that, we made out ‘living wills’ which we had not previously done. When you make wills you realize more and more that you are going to leave all of your material blessings behind because you can’t take anything with you. It is important that you “lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20). The apostle Paul said it in this manner: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2). The older a person becomes the more he thinks of the hereafter.

In addition to the Word of God, I have read scores of articles and books on what awaits us after this earthly life has ended. Now the authors of the various articles and books have never experienced what it is like in the ‘great beyond’. They will either base their findings on the inspired scriptures and/or the various philosophies of mortal men. The fact is, the individuals raised from the dead as mentioned in the Old and New Testament (including Lazarus who was dead for four days) never mentioned anything about what lies beyond the grave. Even the one (I believe Paul) who was caught up to the third heaven and into Paradise was not permitted to write what he saw and heard (2 Corinthians 12:1-7). The unbeliever would desire that when a man dies he is like the ‘dog Rover and is dead all over’. Others might concede that the wicked will be punished but not for eternity. But what if these teachers are wrong? It will be too late to make changes in my belief and in my manner of life. I will not be able return to this life and prepare to meet my Lord in eternity. There is to be no second chance.

Another thought came to my mind and that is, am I to believe that when I die I cease to exist in both body and spirit. This might be better than being in torment for eternity but does it satisfy my longing to continue to be when this life is over. There is so much I don’t understand about afterlife but I do have an unwavering trust in my Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die, Do you believe this” (John 11:25, 26)? The apostle Paul wrote that “to die is Gain” “and to be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:21, 23). It was my Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death” (Revelation 1:18).

Because He LivesWords and music by William J. Gaither© 1971
God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

29 April 2008

Jesus Knows Me, This I Love

Most believers in the Lord have sung or have heard the song ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’ But the expression ‘Jesus (God) knows me’ is equally as scriptural and we all should love this great truth and the One who knows us. In II Timothy 2:19 we read, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” The church of our Lord has a sure foundation and the gates of hades cannot successful prevail against it (Matthew 16:16-18; I Corinthians 3:11). In the New Jerusalem the wall “had twelve foundations, and on these were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14). The house of God (the church) has this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His…” In Nahum 1:7 the prophet wrote these comforting words, “The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” God is all knowing. The Psalmist declared this in Psalm 139:1-6, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” Rather than being a frightening thing to me, as His child I should be so thankful that the Almighty God, the creator and sustainer of life, knows my heart’s intentions, my weaknesses, my heartaches, my cares, my trials and tribulations, my desires, my needs and yes, even the number of hairs on my head. He knows my name. He knows more about me than my wife, my children, my friends, my brethren and even the federal government. The mere thought is overwhelming. To know that He cares for me moves me emotionally. And I love it so. Among the teeming millions who live on this earth, He hears me when I pray to Him. How can this be? There is not a place I can go but that He is there(Psalm 139:7-12). And I love it so. He knew me when I was in my mother’s womb and He knows the way I shall go (Psalm 139:13-16). The Psalmist closes the chapter with these words, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).
The mighty God, Omniscient One! His ways we cannot trace.
He reckons every good begun And crowns it with His grace.
Lo! I can see Him in His word—I will not doubt or fear;
My steps are ordered of the Lord, His guiding hand is near.
No trial can my spirit break, For God will not forsake;
He will with each temptation make A way for my escape.
The future beckons and I bow –My God removes the care!
Behold, He goes before me now, And will my way prepare.
He’s here, and there, and everywhere in all the ways I’ve trod.
I’ve never passed beyond the sphere of the providence of God.

~L. O. Sanderson

21 April 2008

Remembering the Fallen~

I watched the movie ‘My Boy Jack’ (PBS) on Sunday night. Jack was the son of Rudyard Kipling and his wife. At the insistence of and the help of his father Jack was finally able to enlist in the British Army and became an officer. It was during World War I (1915) when England was fighting against Germany in France. After only three weeks Jack was killed in battle at the young age of eighteen. The Kiplings had already suffered the lost of a daughter years before this tragedy occurred. Their grief was overwhelming. In 1916 Kipling’s Sea Warfare was published and contained therein was an emotional poem about his son Jack. Personally I was moved by this story of one of my favorite poets, especially in the death of his son Jack. I could not help but to think of another young man whose life was taken while fighting against the Germans in World War II. And before I present this poem I want to relate the following.

Our oldest son Tim informed us by email that he would be in Washington D.C. this coming weekend. He also mentioned the monument that was finally erected in that city and honors the men and women who died during World War II. I was able to pull up on the internet information about the names listed of the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and I found the name of my oldest brother Walter M. Elliott. It only stated that he was from Georgia and that he was buried in a cemetery in a foreign country. Martin, as he was called by his parents and siblings, was only eighteen years old when he was sent by our government to England and eventually to Belgium and Germany where he and thousands of other teenagers became engaged in actual combat. Martin celebrated his nineteenth birthday anniversary in March of 1945. He was killed on April 5 of that year in northwest Germany. The war ended in May of 1945. Many have been the times that I have thought, if only.... I was ten years old when he died. I still remember so well when my father came walking up the hill to our home and announced through his tears that Martin had been killed. I remember also the overwhelming sorrow that filled our hearts for many years. But I am sure that my mother and father suffered the most. The cost of war is not found in the amount of money spent; rather it is in the cost of human lives that are sacrificed for a cause. The poem written by Rudyard Kipling could be dedicated to all who have suffered the lost of a loved one in any war.

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he didn’t shame his kind
Not even with that wind blowing and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide,
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!