The Consequences Are….

 

The Consequences Are verse


Years pass and memories fade; our skin grows tired and desires wither away. But only one thing rejuvenates life….

Blooming flowers permeate scents, drawing us into heavenly thoughts. We close our eyes and smile, as only one thing rejuvenates this life….

You age, withdrawn as if society closed its eyes on you. You’re not alone for many feel the same pain creeping through the window pain. I pray our Father unsheathes the frowns of miserable days, filling your life with thanksgiving. Only one thing can rejuvenate this life….

Erase your sorrows of past dormant days! Allow yourself to be reborn, and God will fill your enjoyment of life and love. One miraculous morning, the flower petals will commemorate the reflections of your smile. God’s spirit will lift you up and live on inside you, as only one thing rejuvenates life….

Today, I sit in the sun and watch you shine. A blessing to all who meet you, my brightest star – you are the one who lights my up life in the darkest of hours. Frustrations ride off into the sunset. All things were made through and for Christ, including the joy of happiness for only one thing rejuvenates life…..laughter – and it comes with a smile! It keeps us young, and most all the consequences are forever more.


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Jesus, John, and Paul – Amen!

Powerful words linking the past and present!

I told my wife I felt as if I am starting off in the middle of this blog, with no beginning nor an end. It all began with research on questions plaguing my brain about the simple word, amen. For example, do you know what it really means? I read the footnotes of articles which brought me to an inconclusive decision so, I dug deeper. Where I ended up is mind-blowing, especially for those growing up in the era of the sixties. I am from a generation of influential music such as the Beatles, and I even have to contemplate the answers I found to be true.

We all know the biblical story of God’s conception of a special child named Jesus. He was given to us for our salvation and to spiritually guide us in life on earth. But did you know the Lord, himself, never uttered amen? Of the three deities, it was only His son, Jesus, who spoke the word. Many apostles used it in the New Testament including Paul. Translated into our language today though, the underlying meaning of amen means ‘let it be’ or ‘let it be so.’ Well, this information opened a big can of worms!

Let’s fast-forward to the 60s generation. We are all familiar with the song, “Let It Be” written by the infamous Paul McCartney. I inquired how the song originated, and if there was a connection between Paul and Jesus. I wasn’t sure if there were religious ties between them after almost two thousand years, so I dug deeper again.

The music group, The Beatles, grew up in moderately religious homes. Two singers were Protestants, and two were Roman Catholics in Liverpool, England. But by 1964, engrossed in fame and notoriety, they each abandoned their religion…. or did they??

In 1965, the Beatles were filming the movie, Help! in the Bahamas. It’s here they were introduced to the Indian culture through a book about reincarnation. Within three years, they migrated heavily into Hinduism, but it didn’t last long for three of the artists – John, Paul, and Ringo. John Lennon, in particular, devoutly rejected religion and even wrote and produced the song, Imagine, in ‘68 which became dubbed the theme song ‘atheist anthem.’

Paul McCartney returned home confused, or maybe even a little disillusioned. There were undertones of the band breaking up, and Paul suffered from severe insomnia. But one night, twelve years after his mother’s death, he had a beautiful dream. He saw her face and eyes clearly and do you know what message she gave him? “Let it be.” His mother’s name, oddly enough, was Mary. What a message of peace!

Paul immediately sat at the piano and wrote the song, “Let It Be,” in one sitting. It later turned into the title of an album. Shortly after that, he met his wife, Linda, and it was one of the first songs they performed musically together. It was even sung at her funeral because it was comforting and healing to Paul. A miracle was put in place by God, for it was almost as if his mother sent Linda to help him spread the message – Amen!

Thoroughly confused, I went back to my beginning thoughts of this blog – the Bible. Christ was God’s amen, so that’s why Jesus never ended a prayer but only started prayers with an amen.

If it’s possible to connect the dots, I wonder if Paul McCartney was and/or is spiritually connected to Jesus? I relish the thought of Paul finding this blog. After all, his mother’s name was also Mary, and she came to him in a dream. Then, he was blessed with the miracle of his wife to spread the message, let it be. It’s a great piece of music! Paul will forever live on through this song…. shall we all say Amen?! Could Jesus, two thousand years ago, had a clue the word amen would translate today to let it be (so)?



Let It Be – lyrics by Paul McCartney

 

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, “Let it be”



Video by H. Chan


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A Folded Napkin

A Folded Napkin cover


As stories became legendary, customs through the years of the Pharisees and Hebrews became scribed in ink. And the holiest of holy are annual traditions – a commemoration of beliefs we grew up with in life. The rituals and myths may be a bit of a quagmire, but one little-known truth surfaced in the basement of a Southern Gospel Pentecostal church.

It was a beautiful spring day. The sun kissed the blossoming petals, and the winds sailed pollen through the rays of the glistening air. Love was abounding as the fellowship commenced on an Easter Sunday afternoon. A congregation of fifty or so prepared a supper fit for a king. Although I was only passing through, the church made me feel comfortable, and I felt compelled to attend the quaint little service. Afterwards, I was ushered down the steps and into the basement. It was here I discovered true southern hospitality.

The guest’s table was labeled with names in front of each place setting, and flower bouquets stood between platters of food. Crystal, China, and Steiff flatware lined the perimeter. I was so amazed at the beauty of it all! The pastor’s wife instructed me to sit in an empty chair at the far end of the table set for twenty-five attendees. That was fine since being left-handed can cause elbow problems. As everyone found their proper place, one remained empty on the opposite end. I thought little of it as the scrumptious meal made its way around the table – roast, chitlins, not to mention black-eyed peas, succotash, and ham.

Individual plates filled with the colorful spread. As the pastor stood and said a blessing, a vacant seat caught my imagination. I thought someone was probably running late. In the abundance of generosity, conversations easily flowed. Then, the ladies paraded from the kitchen with the pies. Oh, my gosh! Did I say fit for a king – and his court?

I knew not a soul, but they made me feel so welcomed. One by one, folks finished their meal, wadded up their napkins and either tucked them under their plate or set it over the dinner plate. But still, in reverence at the end of the table, remaining poised, was a vacancy place setting with a folded napkin, waiting for another guest.

I could be mounted above a mantel after indulging to the point of being stuffed. The crowd moved outside for a breath of fresh air. I wanted to thank those who particularly made me feel so welcomed. As I reached the doorway to exit into a courtyard, a gentle puff of warm air entered the breezeway.

An elder stood at the door and shook my hand. “It’s so nice to have a bright young man, a new face too, come for our Easter supper.” I smiled and returned the compliment. Then, I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “What happened to the person designated for the place at the opposite end of the dinner table from me?”

He smiled and replied, “You see the folded napkin?”

“Yes,” I said.

He further explained, “If it’s folded, it means they will return.”

“Who?” I asked, “They never showed.”

“Christ,” he said. I was perplexed. He looked at me and smiled again. “We are waiting for His return.”

John 20:6-7
“6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.”

 



EDITOR’S NOTES:

This story alludes to the interpretation of the linen cloth which was wrapped around Jesus’s head at the time of his burial. The disciples Simon Peter and Peter were the first to arrive at the tomb. They saw the wraps of linen cloth lying in the spot where Jesus was placed to rest. However, the “cloth” put over his face and head were lying off to the side.

A Folded Napkin pic 1

Three different versions of the Bible translate this cloth to be a napkin. The NIV version renders it to be a burial cloth, and yet a third interprets it to be a handkerchief. The truth is napkins were not used in the days of Jesus – only a simple piece of fabric.

Though stories run rampant of the validity of this account, it can be noted that it was an unknown custom in Israel. However, some Jewish traditions do support the act of folding a napkin to denote their return to the table.

So, is it conjecture or did this event actually happen? The answer is unknown and requires more research of Jewish customs in the days of Jesus’s life. It certainly makes for an interesting conversation over breakfast!


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Motherhood’s Grace

Happy Mother’s Day to all the precious mothers!

Rose with bug
Photo by Dana Bicks LLC

 

I’m old enough now to visit back in time to four different generations of mothers. Seasons change, but the way of life is different. My great-grandmother was a genuine, simple lady who lived up to her name in Milford Mill. With her silver hair spritzed, a dress down to her ankles, and black two-inch chunky heels, her apron went on at sunrise. She handmade everything – bread, biscuits, cinnamon rolls – you name it. I can remember making orange juice with her for breakfast, and not the kind in a bottle.

Her daughter (my grandmother), on the other hand, never came out of her bedroom until she was letter perfect. Sometimes she moseyed around in a housecoat like she was going out somewhere. She often prepared a lovely, super Sunday meal fit for a family of twenty, even if it was only four of us at home. Grams, I called her, loved to cook. She’d open the pantry closet, grab a box of something, add water or milk, and she stirred away. My old Grams was quite the debonair lady! You could smell her cooking the minute you entered Baltimore city limits. She was a lady of stature, and she enjoyed boyfriends until she was ninety years old.

My mom, on the other hand, was quite a different story. She became a socialite and never looked back. Fast food was a regular meal for us throughout the sixties and seventies. She made a good cooked meal just occasionally as both my parents were committed to different lifestyles.

Yes, Mother’s Day is much different as viewed through the eyes of this old child. The pace of life has a lot to do with it, I’m sure. Years slip by, and people pass, but a mother’s ways are hardly forgettable by their family heritage.

This Sunday’s weather has rain on the horizon once again, but I’ll still celebrate the liturgy of all mothers, past, and present, who transformed our spirit. In all my tiny world of generations, though, God only now shows me the meaning of the pure love of motherhood. Our families are spread hither and yon, but my passion for this particular mother is absolutely like none other. She gives herself to the utmost degree – no matter what day or time. I simply hold this precious love for the one I call my wife, deep within my soul.

Now I am old, and I only wish the mothers of my past knew the love I’ve found today. Blessed by God, hopefully, they’re watching from above. Just maybe they were the angels that brought her to me. No matter, I celebrate motherhood’s grace 365 days a year.

Rose with bug
Photo by Dana Bicks LLC

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The Forgotten

A Dedication to Oklahoma City

The Forgotten cover


Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

It seems like the first day of spring with branches budding and birds bathing in the reflecting pond. Folks lounge commemorating the forgotten. They read the names of God’s children on the soot-caked wall that stands in infamy; sons and daughters that will live on in our hearts forever. A tear gently falls as I pause between the bronze plated walls. God’s presence is here – amongst the pines and the pond. A young ranger tries to make sense of it all, and he can’t give answers to the senseless ‘why?’ questions.

The Forgotten pic 1
The reflecting pond at Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum. Photo by Dana Bicks LLC.

It was a beautiful morning, similar to an early summer day, and the employees paraded in holding their children’s hand. There was a State to run, and a daycare downstairs meant Mom was not very far away. But everything changed in a blink of a second. Just as so many times before they thought it was safe, a non-conspicuous van double parked by the entrance.

April 19, 1995, at 9:03 AM will live on in infamy.

Today, a young gentleman lays his hand in the blessed waters of the reflection pond and places his palm against the bronzed plated wall. I reverently observed, not wanting to ask about his connection to this sacred site. But it was clearly a tribute to God who is ever mindful of the innocent, but now lost. There is a special place held in heaven for these blessed children of this casualty.

I am touched to the core. Girls and boys of every color and creed were saved by grace that day. They take their place in the shade of a one-hundred-year-old elm tree – its limbs almost dead from the blast. I stand in the shadow and feel the presence of kids running hither and yon around my legs. The muffled laughter of children now resides with the Lord. He held their hands and guided them away to the promised land. God bless every child and their families involved in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.

The Forgotten 5
The “survivor tree”. Photo by Dana Bicks LLC

EDITOR’S HISTORY NOTES:

This true narrative was written based on a recent visit to the historical site of the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing – Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. This beautiful and serene site is dedicated to its 168 victims who were in the building, a woman in the parking lot across the street, a rescue worker struck in the head by debris, and three others in adjoining buildings.

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, ex-army companions, plotted this travesty to show revenge for the US Federal Government’s participation in the burning of Waco. Before his decision to bomb the building, he considered assassinating some government officials involved in the Waco incident but later felt his message of disdain would be better perceived if many people were killed. So, McVeigh considered government buildings in Missouri, Arizona, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

McVeigh and Nichols purchased or stole the fertilizer and chemicals needed to bomb the building. Four days prior to the attack, he rented a Ryder truck using an alias name and parked a getaway car several blocks from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. His original plan was to destroy the building at 11 AM but that morning Timothy, instead, chose 9 AM. With 4,800 pounds of explosives, and a manila envelope carrying pages from The Turner Diaries, he detonated two bombs at 9:03 AM. It could be heard and felt up to 55 miles away. Ninety minutes later, McVeigh was stopped on an interstate for driving a vehicle without a license plate and having a concealed weapon.

On June 11, 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection. Terry Nichols stood trial twice and now serves a life sentence, without chance of parole.

The National Park Service’s memorial site is at the location of the bombing. Before entering the grounds, a chain link fence displays hundreds of notes, pictures, teddy bears, etc. left in commemoration of the many children who passed away from this senseless act.

The Forgotten Pic 2

Besides the empty chair monuments which represent every fallen victim, a reflecting pond was created to allow time for visitors to reflect on this historical moment. On the opposite side, still stands “the survivor tree,” a one-hundred-year-old American Elm. Two years after the bombing, an arborist saved its life, so today it stands to remind us that life continues after tragedy.

The Forgotten 3
Empty chair monuments representing each fallen victim. Photo by Dana Bicks LLC.

 

The Forgotten Pic 4
The “Survivor Tree”. Photo by Dana Bicks LLC.

 

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Identity Theft

Identity Theft cover


Let us search the world and think of those in our lifetime who have sold their soul to be someone else. How many incidents are you aware of that someone was raised learning the word of God, but later, lost their identity? And what about those who talk-the-talk, but don’t walk-the-walk? We didn’t have to go very far, did we? Our lives are inundated with invented people who aren’t as they portray. I’ve seen too many backslide to someone I can’t recognize anymore.

One of America’s Most Wanted inmates was apprehended by FBI agents in South America. He was extradited back to the U.S. to stand trial and remains in prison on a thirty-year sentence. He asked for a Bible and began reading it, page by page. When he came to Matthew 16, it turned his life around. His ultimate goal today is to join the prison ministry helping other inmates involved in an identity of theft – losing their soul and worthiness.

Identity Theft pic 1

Let’s try to comprehend why good honest Christians revert away from what they know to be righteous and pure. Secular (worldly, non-spiritual) people are notorious for having ‘the good life’ – they do whatever they want to do, paying no mind to consequences. They’re engulfed in the good times and the next level of adrenaline rush. Who wants to waste a perfect Sunday in church or to work for the church? Isn’t that boring! So, I guess my big question now is – isn’t this clinging to a self-centered identity? Isn’t it ironic that those with the most material possessions and free spirit are the unhappiest? I think the root of the problem is a self-absorbed, ungodly pride which ultimately creates our loss of identity.

Another issue to consider may surround someone being influenced to question the validity of God. Doesn’t this make one narrow-minded? It appears that Satan stole the very soul of a smiling spirit. This is a topic that would make my blog three pages long, but in short, Jesus claimed, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This bold statement has never been spoken by any other great world religious leader. Can that be denied? His signs and His gifts are ever-present in this world for those who choose to receive their identity from God, but, it’s only through His holy name, Jesus Christ.

Identity Theft pic 2

Self-reflection and learning will bring us to our knees, friends. Isolation forces us to reconcile and deal with ourselves. It is by our faults and mess ups, confronting personal issues, that we enter the realm of learning our true identity. We need to deal with this for God to get us where we want to be. We’ve got to be believers who love God more than life itself!

Identity Theft pic 3


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Winners or Losers?

It is a melting pot of catastrophic dilemmas…

Winners or Losers cover


The sun is setting, and an anxious parent awaits the return home of their little child from a weekend rendezvous. With folded arms, standing at the stern, the landscape lighting does little to enlighten the sequence of changes. In your cynical mind, you can’t help but wonder what the ex-has said to your child this time. It’s best to prepare for damage control between now and bedtime as tomorrow is school. A weekend of entertainment, where life is full of dandelions, isn’t exactly the reality going through your mind. Headlights approach around the corner. Artificial hugs are exchanged, and words of encouragement mean little as the door opens. Your very first words are, “You’re late! Get a shower. School is tomorrow.”

A disgruntled child grabs their things from the back seat and stumbles out the door brushing by your seething heart. The front door slams closed and now it’s your turn. You glare back at your ex and utter, “And you wonder why we divorced!” Now your thoughts and temper are short as you’re trapped between feelings – happiness the child is home, and frustration (because you just know words were exchanged).

Retiring for the night in your harvested sanctuary, feelings resolve to self-pity. Do you think you’re the only one affected by the collateral damage of being a single parent? Where are your thoughts at this time? They appear to be in just your center, in your life, and your immediate circle! It is a melting pot of catastrophic dilemmas.

Meanwhile, an innocent child who never had a choice pays the ultimate price. Too often children suffer at the hand of their parent’s indiscretions, and they become the losers. There’s not much room for error when a melting pot is about to explode in the home. Close your eyes and pray for forgiveness!

I ask God how we can bridge the heartaches of one generation to the next. How can we stop the sin of shame? Our courts are full, and only attorneys are the winners. The answer is simple – God! Spend a little time each day to focus on God. Set a good example for your children by walking in His truth. He is the only provider of all our needs.

Winners or Losers verse


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