A Day to Remember

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January 29, 1966, was a long time ago! For me, it’s a day to remember.

At 5:00 p.m. that day Terry and I stood before the altar at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Austin and pledged to one another our faithfulness “… to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death parts us, according to God’s holy will.”

That was 52 years ago! And although many things that happened more than a half century ago have been lost in the maze of my seemingly totally stuffed gray matter, other recollections are quite clear. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • Our wedding day was preceded by our wedding rehearsal the night before. Friday afternoon, January 28, I drove from my nearly completed graduate school semester classes at Texas A&M in College Station to Austin for the rehearsal at St. Paul. All went well and was followed by the rehearsal dinner hosted by my mother and father at the Villa Capri Hotel.
  • After kissing Terry goodbye on her front porch at midnight, I drove the 100 miles back to College Station, getting to bed shortly after 1:00 a.m. Saturday. At 7:00 a.m. I arrived in class to take my final final exam … in Biochemistry. Both because of our wedding and my decision to leave grad school to go to the seminary, neither my heart nor my head really gave a rip about that exam.
  • After concluding those last few moments at my alma mater I packed my few worldly goods in my ’57 Chevy, turned in the key to my dorm room, and drove back to Austin in time to hang around the hotel with my parents, three sisters, and other family members.
  • The wedding began promptly at 5:00 p.m. The officiant was the sainted Rev. Dr. Albert F. Jesse, who had hired me in August 1964 to teach the fourth grade at St. Paul. My entire preparation for that memorable year was a B.S. degree in Animal Science. Go figure! Mid-August, the date I was hired, was only two weeks prior to the beginning of school. I had a pulse and was willing to work for $200 per month. I was his man!
  • After the wedding service and ceremony, our reception was held at the Villa Capri Hotel. I remember the beautiful wedding cake. I recall Terry and I posing for a photo, both with a piece of said cake in hand, lovingly feeding it to each other. What I failed to see, discovered only when asked en route to our honeymoon destination by my new bride, was the groom’s cake. I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about! Never saw it! Haven’t yet lived it down!
  • We arrived at the Stagecoach Inn in Salado, a short 48 mile drive north of Austin. It was late and we were newlyweds, so we chose not to do any midnight sightseeing. Money was tight in those days. One night in the hotel cost 10% of my monthly salary. We stayed two nights … 20% of my monthly salary. After a semester of grad school, the bank account was not quite non-existent but was far from flush. I think we ate in the restaurant only once. Another 10% of my monthly salary!
  • Monday morning we packed the car and headed back to Terry’s parents’ home in Austin to pick up her clothes, other belongings, and our wedding gifts, and headed to our first home in Houston, arriving late Monday afternoon. The apartment on Bellefontaine in southwest Houston cost $75 per month, half of which was payable every two weeks.
  • The next day, Tuesday morning, I started my second teaching job, also in the fourth grade, at Pilgrim Lutheran School in Houston. Angie Bielefeldt was on maternity leave that semester and I needed a job prior to moving to Springfield, Ill. to enter the seminary, so it all worked out just fine. Terry worked with my father at Rice Food Market those four months in anticipation of the move to the seminary in June.

Lots of water has gone under the bridge since those days. Neither Terry nor I could possibly have had any clue whatsoever about what the Lord had in store for us. Perhaps in the weeks ahead I’ll be moved to share some of those stories as well.

In the meantime, I thank God for his priceless gift of a beautiful wife who became an awesome mother, an incredible grandmother, a gracious hostess, an excellent cook, a friend and mentor to many women including countless pastors’ wives, a tireless companion on many weekend trips for preaching engagements across the country, a fearless travel companion on many international trips to the mission fields and partner church locations around the world, including numerous third world countries where she was the only woman in the entourage, and a woman who loves to give of herself to people she meets … friends, family, and strangers alike.

Happy 52nd Anniversary, dear Terry! I love you more than words can express and thank God for you every day!

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An Interesting Psychology Experiment

Monkeys

Have you heard the story about the psychology experiment? Here’s how it goes:

You start with a cage containing four monkeys. Inside the cage you hang a banana on a string. Then you place a set of stairs under the banana. Before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.

You then spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt. As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey. The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, ALL of the other monkeys beat the dickens out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original four monkeys, replacing it with a new monkey. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment – with enthusiasm – because he is now part of the “team.”

Then replace a third original monkey with a new monkey, followed by the fourth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

In every case, the experienced monkeys that are beating up the new monkey have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Having replaced all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water.

Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana. Why, you ask? Because in their minds, that is the way it has always been!

The original version of this story goes on to make application by suggesting that “monkeys” holding certain elected offices in governmental circles should all be replaced at the same time. It goes on to say that this suggestion is meant to show no disrespect to monkeys.

I’ll suggest another application, albeit a fairly obvious one. In circles other than governmental ones, the same phenomenon sometimes occurs. In families, schools, churches, community organizations, neighborhoods, civic clubs, social groups, and almost any other collection of people one can imagine, traditions abound.

We often don’t know the source of traditions we follow. We simply follow them. Why? Because they are traditions. We’ve always done things that way.

Most folks my age, and many folks even younger than I, are pretty cotton pickin’ traditional. Yet unless breaking a tradition requires violating biblical, moral, legal, or ethical principles, a tradition might well be replaced by a new practice that better accomplishes the organization’s purposes or objectives.

You might want to remember this story next time you come across a tradition that seems to have no intrinsic value or detracts from the mission you and your group are trying to achieve.

During his earthly life, Jesus broke many traditions. And on a topic far more important than earthly traditions, he said: “Behold, I make all things new!” (Rev. 21:5)

The Power of Prayer

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Before reading the story below I had never heard of Pahrump, Nevada. Google it and you’ll see a listing of “adult entertainment” that gives an indication of what might be its “claim to fame.”

Here’s the story:

In Pahrump, Nevada, the Diamond D brothel began construction on an expansion of their building to increase their ever-growing business.

In response, the local Baptist Church started a campaign to block the business from expanding, with morning, afternoon, and evening prayer sessions at their church.

Work on Diamond D’s project progressed until the week before the grand re-opening when lightning struck the building and burned it to the ground! After the brothel burned to the ground by the lightning strike, the church folks were rather smug in their outlook, bragging about “the power of prayer.”

But shortly thereafter, Jill Diamond, the owner/madam of Diamond D, sued the church, the preacher and the entire congregation on the grounds that the church “was ultimately responsible for the demise of her building and her business, either through direct or indirect divine actions or means.” 

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently and vociferously denied any and all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.

The crusty old judge read through the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s reply, and at the opening hearing he commented, “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork that we now have a brothel owner who staunchly believes in the power of prayer and an entire church congregation that thinks otherwise.”

The moral of this story is we’d better be careful about how and for what we pray. And if we really trust God to answer our prayer, when he answers the way we asked, we’d better be willing to say that that’s exactly what happened and to give him the credit.

God bless your day!

A Time for … Football Funnies

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The 2017 College Football national champion will be determined at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on January 8, 2018. That game will be played by the winners of the New Year’s Day’s Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, Georgia and Alabama, who will compete for the championship.

In anticipation of the final game of the 2017 college football season (interestingly played in 2018), I thought you would enjoy the following quotes and observations about this national sport. I hope you’re not offended by anything said about your alma mater. Here we go:

“I make my practices real hard because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game.” – Bear Bryant / Alabama

“A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.” – Frank Leahy / Notre Dame

“I don’t expect to win enough games to be put on NCAA probation. I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation.” – Bob Devaney / Nebraska

“I never graduated from Iowa. But I was only there for two terms – Truman’s and Eisenhower’s.” – Alex Karras / Iowa

“My advice to defensive players is to take the shortest route to the ball, and arrive in a bad humor.” – Bowden Wyatt / Tennessee

“I could have been a Rhodes Scholar, except for my grades.” – Duffy Daugherty / Michigan State

“Always remember Goliath was a 40 point favorite over David.” – Shug Jordan / Auburn

“I asked Darrell Royal, the coach of the Texas Longhorns, why he didn’t recruit me.” He said, “Well, Walt, we took a look at you, and you weren’t any good.” – Walt Garrison / Oklahoma State

“If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education.” – Murray Warmath / Minnesota

“The only qualifications for a lineman are to be big and dumb. To be a back, you only have to be dumb.” – Knute Rockne / Notre Dame

“We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking.” – John McKay / USC

“I’ve found that prayers work best when you have big players.” – Knute Rockne / Notre Dame

On one of his players: “He doesn’t know the meaning of the word fear. In fact, I just saw his grades and he doesn’t know the meaning of a lot of words.” – Urban Meyer / Ohio State

Q: Why do Tennessee fans wear orange? A: So they can dress that way for the game on Saturday, go hunting on Sunday, and pick up trash on Monday.

Q: What does the average Alabama player get on his SAT? A: Drool.

Q: How many Michigan State freshmen football players does it take to change a light bulb? A: None. That’s a sophomore course.

Q: What do you say to a Florida State University football player dressed in a three-piece suit? A: “Will the defendant please rise.”

Q: If three Rutgers football players are in the same car, who is driving? A: The police officer.

Q: How can you tell if a Clemson football player has a girlfriend? A: There’s tobacco juice on both sides of the pickup truck.

Q: How is the Kansas football team like an opossum? A: They play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Q: Why did the Tennessee linebacker steal a police car? A: He saw “911” on the side and thought it was a Porsche.

Q: How do you get a former Illinois football player off your porch? A: Pay him for the pizza.

Thank you for indulging this effort at a bit of light-heartedness. The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “There is a time for every occasion under heaven … a time to weep and a time to laugh…” (Eccl. 3:1, 4) And today I add that there is a time for football funnies!

Seriously, I pray that your New Year will include appropriate times of laughter to accompany the other occasions mentioned in Ecclesiastes that may well occur as we enter this New Year of our Lord 2018.

A Blessed New Year to each of you!