Monday, 13 April 2015 18:08

Inability to give is just pure Hell

Parables are wonderful things when they are told to teach us how to care for each other. They can also be maddening things when curious minds try to track down the original source of the wisdom. The following story is often attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok, Lithuania. However, variations on the story also appear in Chinese and Hindu cultures. I first heard it many years ago. It is a favorite story, often repeated by Christian preachers. Here it is:

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like."

Stuff of great importance may be happening all around us on some days but a particular report will leap out of the news and slap you right up on the side of your head and say to you, "Look at this!" That happened to me when I read that state and county law enforcement authorities in South Carolina had raided a cockfighting ring. They arrested 27 people — mostly men — and found marijuana, cocaine, firearms and several thousand dollars in cash on the premises. They also seized 117 roosters ... and one duck.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015 17:33

Solemn in death, new hope is born

I would never make the accusation that a preacher's story is anything but perfectly truthful. Sometimes, however, I know that we parsons can be guilty of toying with the facts. Sometimes this is a good way to get at the truth. The great preacher and teacher Jesus was a speaker of parables. A parable is not factual but can be very true if told by the right person.

So, you be the judge of this story. A preacher said he was walking in his back yard when he heard voices coming from a fiery red, blooming azalea bush. He said it nearly made his hairpiece pop off. It reminded him of the story of Moses and the burning bush. He looked behind the bush and saw two little boys — his five-year-old son and one of his little pals. They had obviously found a dead bird and were conducting a funeral for it. They had dug a hole, found a shoebox and lined it with cotton batting. They were preparing to bury the little fowl. The minister's son began to offer a prayer. With a somber voice, he intoned his version of what he thought his father always said on such occasions: "Glory be unto the Faaaather, and to the Sonnnn ... and into the hole he goooooes."

Tuesday, 24 March 2015 17:06

He gave her a voice tho she was deaf

You want to hear a beautiful story? I have known Marty Folsom so long and so well that I often forget that she lost her hearing when she was a young girl. She has learned to communicate so well that she has her own communications business, Forest Light Design, in Statesville. To show what I mean, I once called Marty on the phone only to be reminded in a kind voice by her secretary, "Well, you know Marty cannot hear."

Winter cold provides us with both blessings and curses. There is the beauty of snowfall. On the other hand, there is the treachery of ice storms. Even the Bible speaks favorably about snow. Isaiah 1:18 reads: "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be as crimson, they shall be as cotton."

The Bible rarely mentions ice and then not poetically or with strong praise. The truth is, the Bible has no more affection than we have for an ice storm in winter.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015 09:38

Hug a minister; it's a tough job

A newspaper advice columnist is reported to have received the following note from a concerned reader: "You told a woman whose husband had lost all interest in sex to send him to a doctor. Well, my husband has lost all interest in sex, and he is a doctor. Now, what do I do?"

I confess, that is a rather earthy request for advice. But, earthy concerns require earthy communications. This is a real world after all. Real people have real problems that call for real advice.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:03

Strange winter weather? I blame the groundhog

I reckon I may be partly responsible for this incredible winter weather. I have sometimes professed my enjoyment of a nice winter snow storm. To watch snow falling is, to me, a wonderful sight. It brings a calmness over my spirit like few other experiences in life. God knows this about me and in most winters provides me just enough snow here in North Carolina to keep me reasonably serene.

Rarely do we get too much. Sometimes we don't get quite enough to suit me. In fact, on Groundhog Day I was not terribly disappointed to learn that we could expect six more weeks of winter weather. I was hoping for two or three days of snow with temperatures at about 31 degrees, safe clear roads, crackling fireplaces and toasty, warm homes. We only build fireplaces anymore here in the South for the atmosphere in our homes. So I like a little snow for atmosphere.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015 04:58

Preacher humor is not for everyone

Two old buddies were sitting on the sunny side of the courthouse square talking, spitting and whittling. They were solving the problems of the world. Lem (do people name their baby boys Lem any more?) said, "Christmas was hard this year. Rumor has it that Santa is changing his name to St. Nickeless."

Habakkuk (do folks name their baby boys Habakkuk any more?) replied, "I know it. I heard that Santa is thinking about grounding Rudolph and the reindeer. Santa has been worried for years about hunters blasting Rudolph and friends right out of the sky! With gas prices falling so fast now, he's thinking about parking the sleigh and getting a Ford truck."

Tuesday, 03 February 2015 09:02

Love is a gift, treat it properly

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and it's once again time to plant a seed or two in the hope that romance will spring forth and blossom. I am, as you know, an old romantic at heart. But I am also a realist.

I know lots of you, dear readers, believe matches are made in heaven. That may be true. However, I am one who believes y'all need to take some initiative on your own. When it comes to romance, you can't just sit around and wait for something to happen. It may be that your vision of heaven is that of a fluffy white cloud with little chubby cherubs flying around with quivers full of arrows looking to shoot people in order to start something magical.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 05:04

Trashy chic? Not on my front porch

Do you ever have a craving for something that is ever-so-slightly taboo among classy folk? Take junk food, for instance? Recently, I fell off the wagon and ate both some potato chips and some corn chips. I have been a good boy since Thanksgiving when it comes to snacking.

It has been mostly celery and carrots until now. But I watched a basketball game and well, you know, I can resist almost anything except temptation.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 17:48

Here's why Jesus was a hillbilly

In the aftermath of Christmas, the preacher in me wants to ask one more time, "What was the point of Christmas?" The answer, "Jesus was fully human, just like you."

I like that. Christians like that. This is why historically artists have visualized Jesus as if he were of their own race, culture, ethnicity or period in time. This, despite we all know he was a first-century, Palestinian Jew. I was reminded of this when I received a humorous piece from my friend, Sue Hicks, that gave some reasons we might argue for Jesus being from one group. For example, Jesus may have been a woman because he could feed a huge crowd at a moment's notice when the cupboard was virtually bare.