Christian Generosity

My aunt and uncle were the two most generous people I have ever known.  They not only gave to their church far beyond their tithe amount, they gave to many charitable organizations on a regular basis—so many in fact that the IRS refused to believe that at their income level they could possibly be giving away that much and audited them several years in a row.

Beyond those contributions, they were always helping out in other ways. My aunt was there with her checkbook whenever there was a death in the family.  She might give $100 just to help out or buy the burial plot if the survivors couldn’t afford it.

The two were just as generous with their time as they were with money.  Almost every day after they retired they visited at local nursing homes with countless individuals—family members, friends, fellow church members, even lonely strangers.

They were both teachers and in younger years, they spent several days of each summer vacation re-decorating someone else’s house, buying the paint and wallpaper themselves.  I believe it was my aunt who was the engine behind all this, but my uncle always did his part with his usual dour expression and calm demeanor.

My aunt and uncle went to be with the Lord a number of years ago but they are not forgotten. With adequate but not huge incomes they made an impact upon the world that is impossible to measure.  I wonder what the world would be like if there were more people like them.

Edwina Williams

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Going up or Going Down?

One of my young relatives has been in trouble all of her adult life for drugs and for theft. She has also gone from one “love” relationship to another.  In the past year, however, she has lived with her aging parents and has behaved very well.  I was dismayed when I learned she had taken her parents’ car and stayed away all night two times in the past week.  This is part of a letter I wrote her.  It may seem harsh, but if she cannot accept this well-meant advice and act upon it, she will be lost to her family, society and the Kingdom of God. 

Dear Niece,

I am heartily aggravated and ashamed of you. Whatever you may actually do while staying out all night–or whatever story you choose to tell yourself or others–the fact that is the beginning of your downfall is that you DID STAY OUT ALL NIGHT! Not once, but twice.

I once heard that nothing happens after midnight that decent people should participate in. I believe that’s true. You are standing at the top of a precipice and can either make up your mind to turn away from the temptations that have, in the past, always lured you into the pit or you can fiddle around with little misdeeds until you fall head first once more into inequity. It’s your decision but I will have no use for you if you don’t do the following:

1. Stay home with your children.

2. Take care of the home your parents provide for you.

3. Take care of your parents.

4. Think of everyone for whom you are responsible ahead of yourself.

5. Never ever leave your children alone all night.

6. Never ever use an unlawful substance again.

7. Never ever take anything that is not yours from ANYONE.

8. Never ever engage in fornication again, (Save yourself for lawful marriage to someone.)

9. Never ever think you can commit a “little” sin. There’s no such thing.

10. Pray daily both with requests for God to assist in your improvement and thanks for all he has done for you in the past. Quite simply, you can choose to be a Christian or not. If you choose Christian behavior, the rest of your life will improve day by day. If you choose the other direction, God will turn his back on you as surely as you turn your back on him.

With love,
Your Aunt
O.W.L.

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An Honest Woman

Her “fall from grace” happened when she was a little over 25 and he was a bit older. She had been in love with him for several years but he was not of a mind to make a commitment just yet.  And then she became pregnant.  This situation, in those days, was unpardonable.  Of course, it must not get out!  A very few members of her family were told and together those family members hatched a plot.

The gentleman was compelled by them, and of course by his own honor, to do the right thing; and swiftly the young woman became, as they said in those days, an honest woman. Meanwhile, those few members of the family who were “in the know” spread the word that the couple had been secretly married one year earlier.

It turned out that the new spouses were meant for each other.  They went to church together, donated time and money to worthwhile causes as a team and grew old together in almost total harmony.  They both lived until they were married nearly 60 years.

On the couple’s “50th” wedding anniversary, their immediate family arranged a party for them.  They received many gifts, and guests present at the party also festooned a bare branch planted in a clay pot with dozens of dollar bills.

After the party was over, the “money tree” was placed on the mantelpiece and left there month after month. Then, when the next anniversary rolled around, the tree was taken down and the money was spent for some small luxury.  Gift towels, received one year earlier, appeared in the bathroom.

This honest wife was willing to make use of her “50th” wedding anniversary gifts only when she had truly been married for 50 years. 

Do you wonder how I know this true story?  Many years before the anniversary party, I was told, in confidence, the truth about the marriage by an elderly member of the wife’s family.  Then, on this good wife’s “51s’t” anniversary, she told me herself that she thought she had held onto her 50th anniversary gifts long enough and it was time for her to begin to use them.

I never said anything to indicate I knew her secret and even though she has long since passed away, I won’t reveal her name now.  I’m telling the story because the woman’s honesty before God is so inspiring.  As a matter of fact, I take back the first sentence of this article.  This dear woman never fell from grace.  At most she stumbled, as do we all; and I think she more than pleased God with her commitment to Him, to her spouse and to honesty.

Name Withheld

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Our Great Country

In my lifetime the thinking of the average citizen of the United States has changed dramatically.  When I was a child, this was “the greatest nation on earth.”  Everyone was absolutely certain that the USA was the best.

Compared to other nations, we expected to have higher scores when children were tested, have larger percentages of college graduates, maintain a higher standard of living for all and house the great majority of our citizens in their own homes. We expected to be taller, smarter, stronger and better fed than the citizens of other nations.  On an individual level, we expected to have a good job and keep it and use the money to buy our houses and cars, pay for our food and school lunches.  The great part was, in most cases, one full-time worker could provide a family with stability and enough wherewithal to acquire a nice standard of living.

Of course, you can see a great difference between that mindset and the real circumstances of fifty years ago and today’s realities and attitudes.  We no longer hear a lot of drum beating about our great country. We worry about the ever-growing national debt.  We know that our children are outscored on standardized tests by students of other nations. Today’s college graduates often end up with so much student debt that it prevents them from profiting from their higher education for many, many years.

Yes, our standard of living is still pretty good; but the dream of most American’s to own their own home blew up in our faces a few years ago, primarily because everyone wanted more than they could afford to own and the banks obliged them in allowing them to overreach their budgets.

Fifty years ago we thought that when we helped other countries, we had a right to expect that we would also influence the life style of their citizens for the better and had the right to attempt to bring their citizens to Christianity and their governments to democracy. We now help and fight wars on behalf of other countries that have little respect for our way of life.

Healthy American children used to run and play.  The “Yoo-hoos” of our mothers could be heard across the country as dusk approached on spring evenings.  Now our youngsters play with gizmos and battle weight problems before they reach junior high. Increasingly, our citizens are living on food stamps. Large numbers of children receive subsidized meals at school, and with all the great things available to buy having become “necessities” rather than luxuries, one salary just won’t cut it anymore.  Add to this, the diminishing commitment to marriage and you end up with a generation of children without fathers or with an assortment of fathers, stepfathers, mothers and step-mothers—family situations that often lead to rancor among the assortment of parents and to   instability in the child’s life.

Freedom of religion used to mean we didn’t have to fight about it.  Now it means everyone is free to fight against it. Freedom of religion has become freedom FROM religion.

In my opinion, the one thing that can lead this nation back to greatness is a rededication of our citizens to personal responsibility.  The best thing the government can do for us is let us live like adults rather than children who need to be cared for and told what to do.

Anonymous (Over 65)

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Three Kinds of Christians

Feeling a little desperate, I was wondering why God let me endure so much when this thought crossed my mind:  “Am I a fair weather Christian?”  If I’m a fair weather Christian, perhaps I seem to believe and even honestly think I believe when all is well and then blame God and turn against Him when stormy or bad weather comes into my life.  I don’t think that’s true of me in spite of my desperate moment.

There are, of course, Christians of the opposite kind—those that cling to a buoy in stormy weather but float carefree along in calm waters, caring not about their savior when all is well.  You have probably heard about Christians like this.  They say there are no atheists in foxholes. Sadly, for many years I was this type of Christian; but I think I have grown in Christianity over the years.

The third type of Christian is the kind I want to be and hope to be most of the time.  This type is thankful for blessings and turns to God with thanks for all the good things in life.  When things sour, they turn to God for direction and when God says, “No” they try to understand;  and through all times and all disturbances, no matter what happens, they have the peace of the presence of the Lord in their lives.

Which kind of Christian are you?

B. Killebrew

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He did his Duty

Below is a small portion of a long character sketch I wrote many years ago.  This little slice of life essay is about a man, my father, who established for his family the true meaning of the word “Father.”  I believe there would be fewer problems in the world today if only most men were still like my dad.
Betty Killebrew                                                                                      
_________________                                                                         biker

To augment his schoolteacher salary, for a number of years, back when corner stores were better known than supermarkets, my dad filled in as a grocery store clerk at one of the larger such stores in our community.  The cash registers in those days rang up sales but only after someone tallied up the sale total. Dad could run his pencil down a long column of figures listing customer purchases and speedily arrive at the correct sum.

Later on, after the corner stores went the way of the dinosaur, Dad had another career as a taxi driver, first driving for a local cab owner and later buying the business  and running it for some years—although in this case “business” means one car, used as a taxi and also as his personal vehicle.

We never went anywhere with Dad, even out of town, that he did not meet someone he knew.  His three jobs had one thing in common—they kept him in the public eye.  He was so well-known that we were sure that in any city in the United States he would meet someone he knew in the first half hour.

My mother suffered from several different chronic illnesses. As the years passed, they grew worse, even as a total of five children were born in the family.  We all lived in a house with only four rooms, a circumstances I’m sure was shared by many of our neighbors in those post depression and war years.  Perhaps, however, some of those families had more ready cash than we did.  Even though Dad usually taught all day and worked at the grocery all evening, with all the medical expenses we incurred, there wasn’t enough money for us to own a car.  Dad hitched rides to school with other teachers during most of his teaching career. There was a bus he occasionally rode to and from the grocery store, but many times he saved the dime by riding the distance of around four miles to and from his extra job on his bike.

The bike was about the only way he went anywhere.  Mom often had to call a taxi to take her or us to the doctor because the bus required walking at least a country block to the bus stop and Mom’s asthma seldom allowed her to do so.  Dad however, usually went places on his bike.  For me, as a pre-schooler, there was a little wooden seat Dad called his “buddy seat” that was fastened to the “boy” bar of his bike. That way, as he rode, I was always right in front of him and encircled by his arms.

At that time I used to stutter and I had a serious inability to pronounce the letter “R.”  As we rode along, Dad, ever the teacher, would talk with me, encouraging me to think ahead about what I was going to say so I would be able to get it out without error.

He used to take me to town on Saturday mornings and one place I loved to go was the junk yard.  Dad was always working on bikes for one of us kids and he would scavenge the junk yard for parts.  One time, how-ever, he incurred my mother’s wrath by taking me with him to a pool parlor.  Mom didn’t think much of pool parlors.

Some years later, after the grocery closed, Dad worked as the night manager of a pool room for a year or two.  Mother never did like that. She thought that as a school teacher, Dad was compromising his integrity by working in such a den of inequity.

I was always proud that my father was a well-respected man.  I used to think being a teacher made him a special kind of person, but today I realize that the most special thing about him was not his career, but the way he persevered.  The mantel of respect always falls on those who consistently do their duty and that’s what my father did.

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Good Will International

Names and other identifying information in the following email exchange have been changed out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved but otherwise, it’s all true, word for word.  This happened during the past Christmas season between a woman in China  I will call “LuAnn” and an American eBay dealer I will call “Sam”.
___

 Lu-Ann:

Hello
I’m the one who bid this item, but now I got a problem from paypal which is I can not pay no more after I pay more than $1000 with paypal, so I may need to ask you cancel this transcation, because I’m afraid I can not pay if I can not find a way to fix this problem with paypal. I feel so sorry about it!!

Sam:  

Lu Ann,
I will send a request to cancel if you want. Just let me know. Thanks.   Sam

LuAnn:

Hello,
I’m the one who asked you to cancel my transaction. I just figure out my paypal account problem and I’m really thank you for do me this big favor when I was in trouble. I’m a new buyer just start to use Ebay one month ago and there is so many things I’m still studing, if I make you this trouble I just want to tell you all my apology for it and thanks for your understand  !! I will come back to your shop next time.Merry Christmas!!
LuAnn

Sam:

Dear LuAnn,
You are more than welcome. I am sure that you will work out your Pay Pal Problems. I have been on Ebay for 14 years and I am still trying to figure it out as they keep changing things. I would love to come to China and see the Terra Cotta Warriors. Thank you for the note. Sam.

Sam:

I sent you a gift. Did it arrive yet? Please let me know when it arrives. Thanks for your messages from China. Sam from the United States.  I put my email on the box. (Editor’s note:  He sent the item even though it was unpaid for.  The postage was $30.)

Luann:

hi
Today when I receive this package, I was so confuse that I didn’t buy nothing so heavy from USA the moment when I open it, my tear is just out my eyes and I can not even find a words to tell you about my feeling!!! Thank you! Thank you so much!!
They say tomorrow will be the end of the world, now I just want to tell you if tomorrow is the real last day, so this gift is the best I’ve never had before in my life!!!!!
Please!! If you come to China or plan to come to China one day, let me know!! I will help you to get all the information you need!!  And if one day you come to Beijing, I will invite you in my husband’s Italian restaurant.
Thank you so much!!!

God bless you!!

LuAnn

Sam:

Dear Luann,
Good Morning. Thank you for the very nice note.  The world did not end so now we can look forward to more good times.  There are many great Italian food restaurants near me so if you want to open a USA restaurant you can open it in my area.  I am very happy that you like the gift. Take care of yourself and have a Merry Christmas. Thanks for the help offer if I come to China.  Sam

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Tragedy in a Cruel World…

This is a cruel world we live in.  We are all at the capricious mercy of the twisted thoughts of our neighbors.

The young man who did the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school suffered from aspergers, a form of autism.  Remember the movie “Rainman”. In that movie Dustin Hoffman suffered from a similar disorder. He was more comfortable in the controlled environment of an institution than in the disorder and chaos of a normal life.  Of course we no longer believe that all autistic persons should always be placed in institutions, but perhaps there is a little too much attention spent on trying to “normalize” them. This may be more stressful for the person with the disorder than the acceptance of their limitations.

The whole story of this particular young man is yet to be told but most of us know someone with a similar disorder.  I can only imagine what pain and anguish his mother suffered as she dealt with his disorder for twenty years.  Perhaps from time to time she believed she had succeeded in integrating him into the world as we know it.  We now know that she did not.

What a tragedy—a tragedy for that dead mother who most likely fought for her son throughout his life and a much, much larger tragedy for the community.

As a society, what can we do to prevent such tragedies?  The ramifications of almost any course of action are mind boggling. Should we place armed guards in the schools? What a picture that conjures. What about metal detectors?  There would be long lines at those instruments every morning as innocent students filed through; and yet, even as I type, I can think of at least one weapon that could make it through a metal detector.

My point is that as a society what we need to do is change society.

I deplore the demise of the American family.  Yesterday I happened to read the birth notices for one hospital in one small city.  There were at least twenty such entries.  There were three or four births listed to people who shared the same last name; perhaps five were born to couples who were listed as parents but did not have the same last name, obviously unmarried.  The rest of the babies were listed as being born to one female name—with no one stepping forward to sign the birth certificate as the father.

While the people who commit heinous acts may not be from broken homes, the general disintegration of the family unit affects all of society. There are just not enough responsible, caring parents around to teach children that they are loved and safe and to teach them to be NICE.  Bitterness and rage in society is contagious for us all.

One of my sons protects his children by home-schooling them.  There may be more of that in our future even though it is difficult when both parents have jobs.  Perhaps that means that our economy needs improvement and our desires need to be revamped so that parents can be satisfied with less and mothers can once again stay home.

One thing that keeps coming up in all the discussion on television is the violence of today’s video games.

Every time I think of that I remember a little girl of 5—me back in 1950–shooting bad cowboys behind every bush in our yard with my little pistol.  It didn’t even have caps in it.  From my brother I had learned to make a very convincing “pow” through my lips.  I played at this game often—even in the house where my trusty steed was the arm of the sofa saddled with a sofa pillow. The thing is; I was not actually engaging in violence; I was fighting for justice.  I would never have pointed that little gun at any good guy.  (And by the way, everyone I targeted was imaginary. My mother and dad NEVER allowed me to point my pistol—even though it was “just pretend”—at any other living creature.  Even though we had no firearms in our home, what I was told over and over was that every gun should be treated as loaded and never pointed at anyone.  Mom and Dad used to sing this song to me, “I didn’t know the gun was loaded and I’ll never, ever do it again.)

Our culture being what it is, I doubt we can rid it of violent video games that may not only teach violence but teach the players how to be deadly shots, but perhaps it is time that we demand that every game have some redeeming feature.  Perhaps there should be good guys and bad guys in the video games as in the movies.  Perhaps it should be “GAME OVER” if you shoot one of the good guys.

But more to the point, morality should be a real thing in every aspect of our lives and for that we need parents and moral ones at that!  Parents are needed to incorporate into the lives of our children the love of life and of justice.  They are needed to teach children to realize when they make errors and to “face the music” that results from doing wrong even when it involves punishment.  It is from learning to face the consequences of one’s actions that conscience is born.

And though it is sad to contemplate, if one of our offspring is incapable of achieving a conscience because of  some malady, perhaps it is the duty of the parent to accept that and take the appropriate steps for the benefit of society.

Satan is alive and well and evil will always exist.  The only weapon to keep it at bay is the love of God and His truth and righteousness.  The only weapon we have is embodied in the song I heard on the very day of this recent tragedy, a song I heard sung in an elementary school Christmas program,–a song that goes, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Betty Killebrew

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The Salt of your Life

Matthew 5-13

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

If we are to be brothers and sisters in Christ with good spirits, we all need to have a little “salt” in our lives to provide us with the savour we need for being his instruments on earth. There are many little things that add a sudden burst of pleasure to your day. These are the “salt” of your life. Here are ten, but I bet you can think of a lot more.

  1. Finding a coin—even a penny–on the sidewalk.
  2. Receiving a compliment on your outfit
  3. Receiving a smile from a child.
  4. Seeing an old friend unexpectedly
  5. Finding just what you planned to buy at a lower price than you expected.
  6. Receiving a picture hand drawn by a youngster.
  7. Meeting an old person who still has a zest for life
  8. Overhearing some long-married person speak of their spouse with love and respect.
  9. Realizing a dream after a long, long wait.
  10. Realizing once again that God does love you and has NOT forgotten you.

Betty Killebrew

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Promises, Promises

Perhaps the most important aspect of trust is truth. If past history leads us to  believe we can’t trust your word, our hope that you will do what you say in the future is overshadowed by the lies you have told us before.  This time you may be telling us the absolute truth, but how can we know?  If we can’t trust your word, we can’t trust your promises and we can’t trust you.

Anonymous

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