Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Determined Faith

By the spring and summer of the first year about half of the Pilgrims had died. Many parents had buried their children and death had claimed a life from almost every family. The food supplies had barely lasted through the winter. As I think about the Pilgrims, what was it that enabled those people to endure such harsh conditions? There are a lot of things to think about when I consider the entire time of preparation and the voyage.

Consider the sister ship, the Speedwell. Twice she was delayed due to taking on water. This put the schedule weeks behind. Next, the cargo and some of the passengers from the Speedwell were put aboard the Mayflower, back in England. Some of the passengers did not continue on. What would inspire some to continue on when others quit? What factor did faith play in the individual decisions.

If the Mayflower had sailed on her original schedule she would have reached the colonial coast long before the Atlantic storms and bitter cold. Reaching the coast a storm forced the Mayflower to abandon the Hudson River landing and return to the safety of Cape Cod. The crew and leaders of the Pilgrims spent almost a month exploring the area for a place to begin building.

After a devastating winter, spring brought hope and their first real contact with the native peoples. What are the chances that the first real contact would be with an English speaking native? There are so many things that happened it would be hard to believe that all the circumstances were coincidental.

The personal and group theology of the Pilgrims was in fact a very pragmatic and strict Calvinist view. They were convinced that God in His sovereign design had all things planned and ordained. This faith gave them great resolve and a determination that would enable them to endure great hardship and heartache.

The time of Thanksgiving had more to do with spiritual certainties than with temporal blessings such as food and shelter. Moms and dads knew they would be reunited with children, children knew they would be reunited with a mom or dad. That inner knowledge was the real reason for the season.

Happenstance or the Divine Hand of God. I know who and what I believe.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Off Course???

After sixty six days at sea the Mayflower  and her weary and cold travelers were looking at their new world. Due to the weather the Mayflower was off her course and instead of dropping anchor near the mouth of the Hudson River, she was north near the entrance to the bay of Cape Cod. The crew and passengers decided to sail south to the mouth of the Hudson.

Sailing south the ship encountered such a violent storm that both crew and passengers feared shipwreck and almost certain death in the cold Atlantic. In desperation the Mayflower came about and headed back north to the relative safety of the harbor of Cape Cod. Still damaged the ship made it to the bay and dropped anchor. The bay, almost an enclosed refuge, would become home to the Mayflower and the staging point of the Pilgrims exploration of the area.

For the next weeks the crew and a small number of the Pilgrims made numerous landings along the shore. The search for water was rewarded with the, "sweetest pools of water ever imagined." Juniper wood was gathered and taken aboard the Mayflower. The aroma from the burning conifer was a sweet relief from the stench of five months under sail. The crew also was able to re-supply the wood for cooking and cleaning.

After a time of exploring a site was chosen for the beginning of the settlement. It was defensible against any attack and within an easy distance of good water. On December 23, the majority of the Pilgrims left the ship and began building their new lives. As Sunday was the 24th the Pilgrims didn't work but spent their first Sunday in worship and praise. Work began in earnest the following day. As Separatist, Pilgrims  did not celebrate Christmas day as they thought it to be a "pagan tradition."

During the construction of the meeting house and various homes many of the Pilgrims continued to sleep aboard the Mayflower. The frigid wind off of the Atlantic forced the settlers to build as fast as possible. This meant that the days were long and the blowing winds and snow would begin to take a very deadly toll.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Voyage of the Mayflower

The ship's manifest listed one hundred and three passengers, one hundred and two by family name. The one hundred and third passenger was listed as, Dorothy, maidservant. In July of 1620 the Mayflower was being fitted and loaded with provisions for its journey to the New World. She was to wait in South Hampton for the ship Speedwell. The Speedwell had sailed to the Netherlands to pick up the passengers, who had been living in Leiden. Once the Speedwell met the Mayflower they would begin the long and dangerous voyage across the Atlantic. It was still nice sailing weather and the monstrous Atlantic should still be sleeping.

By the time the Speedwell did reach her rendezvous with the Mayflower they were already a week behind schedule. The Speedwell was taking on water and in need of repairs that lasted a week. On August the 5th both ships left the safety of the harbor and headed across the Atlantic. Both crews were hoping that even leaving in early August they would not face the horror of North Atlantic storms.

As both ships headed West the Speedwell began taking on water again. The Mayflower and the Speedwell were now three hundred miles out in the ocean. Both ships headed back for England and the port at Plymouth. Upon arriving in Plymouth it was determined that the repairs on the Speedwell would take to long and her cargo was added to the Mayflower. As disappointment and anger grew, many of the passengers on board the Speedwell abandoned their plans for a new life.

With the remaining passengers joining those on the Mayflower, she set sail on September 6th. By this the weather and the seas were not to be trusted, but the decision was made to sail on. For the first half of the voyage the wind and weather blessed the Mayflower and her crew and passengers. That was to end as the Lady passed the half way mark on the Captain's chart.

As the weather changed one Godless crewman told the Pilgrims that he couldn't wait for some of them to die, so he could throw them overboard and steal their provisions. For the next thirty days the Mayflower was at the mercy of the Monster of the deep. On more than one occasion the ship had to bring down her sail and ride out the storms. During an especially fearsome attack by the watery monster a mast cracked and the crew feared the ship to be lost. The ship's carpenter secured the mast till proper repairs could be done.

Some days before the sighting of land the "Godless crewman" became suddenly ill and died. The ship's log recorded his death as "The Hand of God." During the voyage a child was born and three days short of landfall a young lad died.

On November 9th in the Year of Our Lord, Sixteen Hundred and Twenty, land was sighted. The sixty six day journey across the Atlantic was done.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Taught by a Sparrow at Walmart

I don't have much desire to go shopping, I guess I have no desire to go grocery shopping and even less desire to go to WalMart. It is not that I have anything against the store, quite the opposite, competition is good.But, I know that if I did much shopping in WalMart I would end up in jail, or at least in court. You see, I have no patience for crazy people armed with a steel cage on four wheels.

The first time some crazie hit me with a cart as they tried to get in front of me to beat me to the express check out I would hit them with my stick. It is no ordinary stick, (fancy term for cane) my big brother made it for me and it is one fine piece of wood. The handle has a natural curve and it is a bit on the heavy side. Now, I wouldn't mean to hit that crazy it would be just a natural reaction to keep my self from being injured. Boil all of this paragraph down to this: I don't go in to WALMART. I sit in the car or truck, prefering my truck.

OK, I hope you are still reading this because I do want to get to a rather funny yet very important point. It was during one of my many handicapped parking place vigils that I watched a rather fascinating event take place. In the parking lot there seemed to be a lot of sparrows, you know, the birds Jesus talked about. As I watched I saw one little guy run, skip, whatever they do, under a car.

And then I watched him jump between the front grill and the radiator. And to my surprise and he had just entered the Little Birdie Buffet. For 4 or 5 minutes the little two winged glutton gobbled down on bees, horse flies, moths, dragonflies and, don't tell Donna, a butterfly. I tell you the flying porker ate so much it was a wonder he could even get off the ground.

I have been dealing with anxiety lately, a lot of it. It is unusual for me as my kids will attest to be anxious. I have been able to identify a couple of reasons. I have allowed a few cares to slip in. I am thinking of retirement and the path seems rough. Donna and I have our land and it is gorgeous. It fronts a small river in Northeastern Michigan. God helped in that matter.

The next is an issue that many of us deal with; health concerns. Due to my spinal cord injury I am pretty limited in what I can do. That, bothers the #$#@ out of me. Donna is going through some pretty heavy health issues that make mine pale in comparison. So, I am not sure what our golden years will be like..

The words of Jesus come to me, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your heavenly Father knowing." If God can take care of His birds with a WalMart store He will take care of us. I guess I need to go and sit in the WalMart parking lot for a few hours and put a couple of things to rest.

Thanks to the Sparrows.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dance of the Innocents

I closed my eyes as the gifted fingers of our pianist brought to life "Amy's Lullaby." With the world around me shut off I envisioned the lullaby. Jesus is standing on a hillside covered in a blanket of daisies. To his right the hillside slopes away and the flowers converge into a blanket of white, as bright as the purest snowfall. The daisies seem to be dancing as a gentle wind moves up the hillside. Up to his knees in the dancing and waving of the petals he is smiling. He is not grinning or cracking a little smile, like one who is trying to be restrained or respectful. He is smiling with his mouth open wide, for all the world to see.

As the breeze moves and the petals dance I am captivated by the sound of giggles and laughter. It is the laughter of children, the music of the soul, giggles and squeaks, and the beautiful blending of the glee of boys and girls. Up the hillside they come, some running, some skipping, some falling and tumbling in the field of dancing flowers. Jesus is standing there with his arms outstretched, with such a smile that he is expecting all of the children to jump into his arms.

As the children run and dance and skip their way up the hill they take no notice of the language, color or clothing of their partner in the dance. There is no language in laughter, for it is universal, there is no disdain of clothes for all are wearing the same white, white as bright as the snow, the same white that Jesus is standing in. Theirs are the colors of every nation and every tribe that has ever graced the earth.

As they dance and laugh I can sense that these precious children are the Innocents. Fragile and helpless sons and daughters of the land. Innocent ones taken from the earth, from the arms of their mothers and the sheltering strength of their fathers. Taken by the evil design of men. Taken by the greed and envy and lust of those whose hearts are consumed with the thirst of power and rule.

Many of the dancing Innocents move towards Jesus and I can tell by the purity of their smile that they are laughing and dancing by the grace of God, as their lungs never filled and their feet never felt the earth. I know as a certainty that these that are dancing the Dance of the Innocents are so happy to see Jesus. They feel his embrace, their spirit innocent and free does not sense the wrong that has been done and wish for the day that all mankind will join them in the Dance of the Innocents.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God is tolerant and intolerant.

Tolerate is a word used in every form of media today. Intolerant and intolerance are words used as accusations against, it seems to me, every thought and person we do not agree with. Christians are cast as the most intolerant members in the cast of the social life theater.  They are homophobic because they do not believe the homosexual lifestyle is in line with scripture. Because Christians believe in the work of Christ as the only avenue to to the throne of God they are Islamophobic. And we could go on  and on.

The Bible gives us a clear view that Almighty God is both tolerant and intolerant. God is  intolerant of actions that keep us from, or break, the intimate relationship mankind was created for. Adam and Eve's intolerant behavior towards the command of God in regards to the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil severed their relationship with God. They were cast out and the loving fellowship they enjoyed was lost.

The character of God is pure beyond our comprehension. His purity and holiness.abhors the actions of sinful mankind. His intolerant stand against sin will prevent sin and sinfulness from ever entering His kingdom. The Old Testament enlightens us in regards to His judgment upon flagrant disregards for His commands. To put it rather bluntly: God Almighty hates sin and sin will have no place in His kingdom.

In God's love and understanding of mankind we can discover His tolerance. We were created to have a relationship with God. His desire was, and still is, to share in every aspect of the human experience. He understands our condition as broken and marred vessels. Sin has broken and marred the original vessel that could contain His love and grace. Everyone has inherited that original broken nature.

If God is intolerant of sin and yet tolerant of mankind we might see a great inconsistency. There is no inconsistency with God. He will not tolerate sin in His presence. In order to be consistent and congruent His character must align with His actions. In Jesus Christ we find the perfect congruence of God. Jesus Christ took the penalty of an intolerant God in regards to Sin. In the death and resurrection of Christ sin is expiated, removed and made inconsequential. Sin is inconsequential only to those who embrace the gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone.

The intolerance of God is met on the battlefield of human salvation . Eternity for all of mankind will be determined in this battle. Should intolerance win the day only darkness and pain await. Jesus Christ, the Captain of the Lord of Hosts understands the consequences of the battle.He also understands the plan that was formed before the foundation of the world. The plan required His death in order to satisfy the purity and holiness of Almighty God.

The Captain on the battlefield faces the demands and yields His life. The Captain's sacrifice rips away the darkness that hung over the battlefield. The tolerant light of God broke through and illuminated His Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Godly Matriarch

Five generations together in a room, soon to experience a glimpse of eternity.
The saint of the family, the matriarch, is breathing her last air of confinement.
She has shared her heart, her life and her last words with each.
Her white hair is a simple reflection of her soul, pure and unspoiled.
Her body bears the evidence of her years, yet her spirit bears the richness of life lived.
Life filled with children and chores, wonderment and worry.
Life full of images etched on every soul in that room.
Life of berry picking and shortcake, jumping grasshoppers and wild raspberries.
Children laughing and playing in the bathtub on a Saturday night,
in Sunday school the next morning, singing Jesus Loves Me This I Know For The Bible Tells Me So. Words sung a thousand times by the gathered in the room,
witnessed so many countless times by the life and love and sacrifice of the saint
soon to meet her God.
It is easy to notice her skin, thin as tissue paper, causes a hesitation to hug as firmly as deserved.
The scars are evident on her knees, of a trait passed on.
All mortal signs of life's days and years soon to be replaced by immortal
glory filled instruments of praise.
God's saint has been ready for this day for a long time, even yearning for its arrival.
As the months became years and frailty became reality, her spirit looked past the stars more and more, seeing the unseen.
For some around her now life changed for a season.
A few short months of helping in the mundane requirements of everyday living.
Not work to be endured or a burden to bear, but an expression of love,
not ever to come close to filling up what was poured out for them.
Her breathing is very slow and shallow now, a sense of rest and contentment seems
to be filling the small room.
As she sleeps on her side, as she always did, her lungs are no longer filled
with the paltry air of the earth,
but with the celestial air of the heavens and her frail hand is held
by the One she so loved and longed to see.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Monuments are Important

The children of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years for one reason. After being led from Egypt by the hand of God and the leadership of Moses the Jews did nothing but complain and cry. They forgot the miracles, the plagues and trekking on the dry Red Sea floor.

Under new leadership, Joshua led the Jewish people to the banks of the Jordan river and prepared them to gain their freedom in the land of promise. Joshua warned the people that it will be easy to forget the ways in which God saved them.

Across the river, in the land of freedom, Joshua prepared two monuments. One monument was constructed on the freedom side of the river. He instructed a leader from each of the twelve tribes to retrieve a stone from the riverbed. With the stones a monument of remembrance was built.

Joshua told the people that the monument would be a point of instruction and remembrance. It would be a point of instruction for those who pass by and did not know the story of how God saved the Jews and led them to their new land. It stood as a point of remembrance because an object that they could look upon would reinforce their memory and understanding.

The second monument Joshua constructed in the center of the riverbed . He placed twelve stones as a monument, a memorial, that signified the unseen. Many Jews perished in their wanderings. There were heartaches and perils in gaining their new freedom. Many dark times were encountered and survived. The unseen monument was just as important, in different ways, as the visible monument.

The visible monument was intended to remind the Jews of the great freedom they enjoyed and the failures that demanded the forty years of wandering. There is a powerful connection between the eyes and the mind. A vivid example is the American flag. A passing American flag leading a parade brings sincere people to their feet.

Our flag represents this land. Only a fool would believe that all of our history has been honorable and just. We understand the atrocities and crimes that were a real part of our history. Knowing our struggles and the opportunities of freedom and person liberty brings a sense of hope, pride, and appreciation.

Our land is a beacon of hope in the world of oppression and deprivation. Let us keep it that way.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Charlie- A Disgusting man loved by God

Everybody knew that old Charlie was a homeless vagabond. He trudged up and down the streets, at times in the middle, in his gray wool coat and blue stocking cap pulled down on his head. His gray hair was as short as the stubble on his face. It didn't matter what time of the year it was old Charlie dressed the same. All of Charlie's earthly belongs were kept in his red wagon, a Radio Flyer, that was given to him by some kind person.

We hadn't been in our ministry very long when we first met Charlie. We heard about and saw Charlie long before our first meeting. He came around the church on a pretty regular basis. There was always some food in the kitchen or fast food burgers in the freezer. Charlie knew he could eat at least once a day at our church. Well, when we met Charlie for the first time it was late August and still pretty warm. Charlie looked, and smelled, pretty bad, he was living up to his reputation.

Donna, being the kind heart that she was, looked at Charlie with compassion and love. Looking at him she was able to see past the coat, the smell, the dirt and the reputation. She saw a man loved by God, but only by a few people. After finding Charlie something to eat she asked him if he would like a shave and a haircut. He told her that he would really appreciate it if a pretty lady like her was to cut his hair. She led Charlie to the basement bathroom and I found a kit that contained a comb, shave cream and razor.

Donna trimmed Charlies hair and then his eyebrows, which looked more like bramble bushes than eyebrows. When she finished his eyebrows she asked if he would like her to trim his mustache. He told her that it would be nice because he hadn't been able to for a while. Well, what Charlie didn't tell Donna was that he chewed Red Man (tobacco) and it had been years since his mustache had been trimmed. You can just imagine what it was like when Donna ran the comb through Charlie's mustache and about two inches of it came out of his mouth. I had to find her two other combs to complete the task of the mustache trim.

There are unlovable people all around us. Contemporary lepers cross our paths and some of us turn our self-righteous faces away from them. The people that I shun might not be the same people that you would shun and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is quite simple and plain: That is wrong and we are to love the Charlies of the world as much as we love our self. Jesus did not really give us a lot of options about who we should care about and who should be thrown aside.

God help me to see all people the way I should.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Stars in every parents eyes.

As I watched Ana turn the corner in the 400m relay I couldn't believe what I was a witness to. Here, before a couple of hundred people, a young lady who was not supposed to live and when she did survive could hardly walk, was gaining on her opponent. She was well behind when the baton was handed off to her, about 30m, due to a difficult hand off at the second leg. Ana was the last runner, the runner who would have to catch up, if they were behind. Well, behind they were, as I watched her turn the corner she was gaining fast on the other runner. Each leg is 100m so the other runner had a clear advantage.

Within 50m of the string Ana pulled up even. The crowd of people were in an absolute uproar. Every person was up on their feet watching this incredible display of determination. I was at the the finish line and looking over the fence, staring straight ahead at Ana. I was yelling at the top of my lungs, "Dig Ana dig, Dig Ana dig." Well, did she ever dig. At the finish she won by a stride and a bit. When I came back down to earth, wiping a lot of tears from my eyes, my eyes met Donna's and we smiled.

Our smile was only a small indication of the joy and thankfulness we had in our hearts and spirits. Our Zambian Speedster was a testament to the Love and Mercy of God. He was the One who gave her strength and determination. He was next to her those many nights when she was so close to the door of death. He was the One that broke the power of the seizures that racked her little body that rainy night in the bush of Zambia. He was the One that gave her the will and the determination to prove every death prediction wrong.

That afternoon, as the crowds cheered and the team-mates hugged and laughed, I was a father with stars in my eyes. I knew that in the darkest night the stars were always there. Even during the storms the stars are still there, and so is the One who hung the stars in space. The stars in my eyes remind me of the Lord, who by His spoken Word cast the universe into place.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

"High Flight" poem by R.A.F. pilot John MaGee

Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of.

Wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hovering there, I've chased the shouting wind along and flung my eager craft thru footless halls of air.

Up, Up the long delirious burning blue I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace where never Lark or even Eagle flew.

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space. Put out my hand and touched the Face of God.

Pilot MaGee composed the poem beginning at thirty thousand feet and had it complete before he touched down. It was written on an envelope. He died later in a training accident.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Man Must Possess and be Possessed

Man Must Possess and be Possessed

Without possessing the Eternal man fills his life with dead dreams and fleeting illusions. 
Without possessing the Eternal man fills his life with false promises and assumptions.
Without possessing the Eternal man fills his life with imitations and vapors.
Without possessing the Eternal man fills his life with self-seeking pursuits and blind ambitions.
Without possessing the Eternal man fills his life with greed regardless of need.
Without possessing the Eternal man fills his life with the vacuum of emptiness and eternal solitary confinement. 

Possessed by the Eternal man's life embraces fresh vision and confident assurances.
Possessed by the Eternal man's life is filled with truth and experiences.
Possessed by the Eternal man's life is filled with the genuine and foundational.
Possessed by the Eternal man's sight focuses on others and their needs.
Possessed by the Eternal man's life is filled by being emptied in service.
Possessed by the Eternal man's life is filled by the innumerable host joining his celebration. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Thoughts on a Pine Tree

Rain drops hang off long slender needles, made a brilliant green by droplets no longer clinging to cloud.
The earth beneath the living statues is soft and covered in a blanket of brown needles.
Thousands, millions, the blanket has no pattern to the eye, to the giver they tell of history, of storms and snow, of wind and sun, passing days and months, years and generations.
The scent that rises from the moist blanket mingles with living needles and bark. The fragrance is beyond description but not experience.
Breathe deeply and fill your soul with peace and tranquility as almost blinding rays of sunlight reach you through branch, limb and needle.
Steam escapes from hidden rooms beneath the blanket as the sun warms the earth.
The blanket beckons your wearied body, go ahead, multitudes of creatures have already felt the comfort.
The blanket is thick and soft, your hand presses down and the blanket gives to your desire.
Lay back and sense the blanket give and move to your weariness.
The scent, the warmth, the moisture, they approach and beckon to lay with you.
Soon you are wrapped in comfort that fills your very soul, yea, every cell.
From your repose, looking up, the living statues reach into and then become part of the heavens.
Sleep overtakes and you dream of heaven, a land of pines and smells and sweet comfort.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memorial Day- Cost-less = Thought-less

This weekend millions of Americans will be celebrating the Memorial Day Holiday. The sad truth is this: the meaning is lost to millions. For many Americans this weekend kicks off the summer recreational season. Good folks will head to their favorite campground, fishing hole, relatives house, or other spot for relaxation. On Monday afternoon I plan on cooking outside. The grand-kids will come over and we will spend precious time together. Friends will be at the nearby campground where I might eat my once a year Smore. The campfire will rekindle memories, images, and smells of past campfires and family members passed on.

As a kid Memorial Day was also know by another name, Decoration Day. A drive past any cemetery on Memorial Day would have been filled with sights of hundreds of small American flags placed by the grave of every service member.  Memorial Day 1970 was one that is still very vivid. The military honor guard was gathered at the grave site of my brother. There were some words, long forgotten but sincere, and then the salutes. What will never be forgotten is the gun fire and the lonely for-lone sound of, Day is done, gone the sun. (Taps)

My personal freedom didn't cost me a red cent. I was born an American. Born in the land of freedom and opportunity. I was taught that my freedom was a gift. My freedom was given to me, I didn't earn it. I listened to stories of the men who fought for "my unearned freedom." My father and uncles fought against a global tyranny that threatened to suck the free breath from every soul. I began to have a sense of the cost to them. My "unearned freedom" was costly. During that time of terror nearly 14 million American men and women put on a uniform and pledged their lives for us, you and me.

I am greatly dismayed by what is happening today. Millions of young adults are expecting to receive at no cost. And, this is not American freedom that I refer too. The entitlement mindset is spreading like a wildfire. Kids get their drivers license and expect a car. There are more cell phones used by kids in school than any other age group. I do not mean to bad talk everybody. Many young people pay for their own cell phone, car, and other expenses. But, they are fast becoming the minority. Now, a free college education is being demanded and may come to pass.

What cost-less to us means less. What is cost-less soon becomes thought-less. Those words are very dangerous to all of us. The men and women from the Greatest Generation are soon to be gone. Their wisdom, experience, and spirit will just become words of lore and memory. The boys that were 18 and 19 that stormed the red beaches of Normandy will be soon laid to rest. The Honor Guard will fire and Taps will play, they may soon be forgotten.

We must remember that Cost-less can equal Thought-less. God help us this Memorial Day to remember the cost and demand that respect be given to those who gave us our undeserved freedom.

Tedd A Galloway
www.teddgalloway.com

Monday, May 22, 2017

Thoughts on Freedom

In the city of Riverview there is a cemetery out on Sibley Road. It is like thousands of plots of land given to bury the dead and bring friends and family to remember the lost. The earth that covers the resting place of the thousands does not recognize the entombed as those who walk above do. The earth knows nothing about status, money, crime, goodness, philanthropy or greed. The size, or lack of, a monument or simple stone is not recognized either. Walking around a cemetery a person would probable have no idea of who might be underfoot. Unless of course, you were familiar with the area where you were walking.

The cemetery in Riverview, Ferndale Cemetery, is no different to countless thousands. It is different to people who have loved ones at rest there. It is different for me and my family. Some very special people in my life have Ferndale earth as a blanket. Ferndale earth is a blanket for a sister in-law, uncle, brother, mother and father. Even though it has been a few years I can walk directly to the monuments that mark their graves. I can't see the monuments from the two-track, due to cemetery rules all markers are now level to the ground for ease of mowing.

In a couple of weeks cemeteries across America, and foreign fields, will stand out as American flags, stapled to small round wood rods, give testimony to what makes America great. Monumental flags will point people to the resting places of the brave who served from Lexington-Concord to the mountains and desolation of Afghanistan. When taps are played many will shed tears. When the rifles fire in perfectly disciplined unison the scene sensitive still shudder or twitch. I know from first hand experience, tears from taps and shuddering from the rifles.

Brave men and women across the land and the ages were willing to face danger and death so the dream of real freedom would live on. That freedom, to think, talk, gather, worship, elect government, is so precious that the cost is blood. My brother Tag served in the Marines during the Viet Nam War, he died in December of 1969 from leukemia. Many of my friends will remember that ordeal he went through. My father served in World War II, in the jungles of the Philippines and New Guinea. He witnessed what was never talked about and carried in his body the reminders of malaria and jungle rot. I will always seek to honor them and the sacrifice they made.

Today it seems that patriotism is not in vogue. I can't pinpoint any particular reason, I suspect there are many. The evidence is obvious, attend any sporting event and count the number of people who do not take off their hats, talk and laugh and seem oblivious to what is happening. How about singing the National Anthem, even a superstar screws it up. There is even an alternate for people who do not like the original. How many of us even know that there are four verses to the anthem ? The fourth verse is quite militant in word and image, "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto, "In God is our trust" And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

For a period of time I lived in a land that was ruled by a single party socialist government. The common people had no voice, yes they voted, for the only person running for president. They lived at the mercy of a corrupt government and a military that was as bad. While we lived there an attempted coup took place and the dead lay in the street around the government building to remind people of the cost. This country of ours in not perfect, far from it. But, it is the best form of government on the planet today.

Now, many people will not like a very personal opinion of mine in regards to our country. My opinion is this: If you don't appreciate freedom, if all you can do is complain and moan, if the sight of our flag and our brave men and women in uniform bothers you then, MOVE OUT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Lesson Learned too Late

The old man is lying on a dirty old metal bed, the sheets unchanged for weeks.
He lies on his side with his knees drawn up, like he did 80 years ago.
The gray on his head is matched by the gray of his life.
He has been alone now for years, abandoned by all, left to his bed and bitterness.
Life is hard and that is exactly what he taught everybody around him.
His wife, stoop shouldered by the burdens and his words, crumbled under his care.
For years she tried to please him, her efforts only gained more scorn and weight on her shoulders.
Children now gone, haven't seen the old man in years.

His son, his namesake, pledged to never see or speak to him, never to enter the house until it was funeral time.
A daughter, broken by suspicion and cursing, still lives broken, trying to make her daddy happy, five or six times since she saw him last.
He knew they needed to know that the world is cruel and the best a man could do was to work all of his waking hours.
Home, he expected all to understand his life and be content that he put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
His words, never from a warm spirit, only the ones that needed to be said, the food is cold, the chores are undone, the wood needs carrin-in.
He expects respect and obedience, cares not to know what troubles live in his home.
All homes have trouble, life is hard and you just put up with it.

On his bed his hands are shriveling and gnarled, evidence of years of toil, toil he thought so unappreciated, work ignored, sweat unnoticed.
Unaware of the words of a mother to her children, words of work by their father, toil to provide food and shelter, long hard days spent on the end of a shovel.
He looks down at his hands and realizes his heart and soul is just as bent and gnarled as they are.
He mumbles in a voice no one can understand, words that seem garbled, "God what did I do wrong?" Life is hard and they had to learn, the world is cruel and unloving. I did what was best.
A message begins to move deep in his soul, he feels uncomfortable, struggles on the hard rusted metal frame bed.

His stomach churns and his legs move to curb the pain.
A voice very clearly and quietly speaks it's message of unwelcome truth.
Today you are alone, alone on your bed, waiting to die, where are your children?
You are choking on the weeds you planted most of your life.
It is now time for you to realize what you have done, and live and die with it.
Even though you lie here abandoned and scared, yes I will be with you.
I will try and help them understand your life and keep them from your pain.
If only you would have tried to reach me, tried a small amount of kindness.
Soon all your pain and ugliness will end.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Misery and Mercy

In the process of working on a book I came across one of the most captivating statements made by Saint Augustine. He was commenting on the encounter Jesus had with the Scribes and Pharisees in which they tried to trap him with Old Testament teaching. A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus, where was the man, and they quoted the passage that condemned her to be stoned. As Jesus laid open their deceptive hearts and guilty lives they left him and the woman alone.

In a way that only Jesus could and can do, all condemnation was renounced and he gave her freedom and a challenge. His mercy set her spirit free and his justice warned her of the consequences of actions. The two left alone, the guilty and the guiltless, the sinner and the sinless, the lawbreaker and the advocate. Alone before God, as we all will be at some point in time. Back to Augustine. He writes, "the two were left alone: Misery and Mercy."

Doesn't that thought just thrill your heart? Picture with me the most vivid example of human misery. A soul ensnared and chained by actions and depravity, lost in despair and ruined by repetitive failings. Mercy enters the room and it flames with light. A head hung low with eyes focused on dirt is lifted heavenward. The scars and bruises of life are covered in the healing oil of Mercy. Mercy, the very act of God in which the pain and guilt of sin is removed and the deepest understanding of new life and forgiveness is revealed.

Facing my Creator I will stand, "The two were left alone: misery and Mercy."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Palms and Pain

Palms waved, a King to see,
Multitudes eager to bend their knee.

Joyous, expectant, loud their cry,
Christ, meek, mild, on a foal passes by.

Cloaks and palms they lay on the ground,
In a week, not a friend to be found.

He didn't arrive, earthly king to be,
Spurned, they would hang Him on a tree.

His kingdom, not visible to their eye,
Veiled and hidden, till after He would die.

Innocent, Pure, His life He laid aside,
In dying, bringing multitudes to abide.

Lifeless body laid in a borrowed tomb,
Mankind's monument to despair and gloom.

On the third day a woman came to see,
To prepare her Lord's body, broken on that tree.

Vacant, empty tomb is what she did find,
Questions, despair on her mind.

Turning around, she finds her Lord,
Wanting to clutch Him, her Jesus adored.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Sophisticated Man

He is a sophisticated man. Every morning his mirror smiles at him. His white hair and beard are perfectly coiffed. Each hair is examined, snipped, combed, and smiled upon.

He is a sophisticated man. His library is the envy of friends. The patina on the one hundred fifty year old wood is an intoxicant to the eye. Soft light is cast by Tiffany lamps and solid brass wall sconces. His books line one wall. He looks upon them often and when he does he smiles. His smile reacts as his eyes fall upon his first editions of Hawthorne and Webster. The great works of literature speak softly to visitors that here lives a sophisticated man.

He is a sophisticated man. His leather chair is one of the finest. Hand crafted and covered in Romanza Leather it is exquisite in every detail, the seen and experienced. The brass buttons at the top of each arm bear the marks of his fingers over long years. The trained eye can see the faint color change in the leather where his elbows have rested as he enjoyed his pipe and brandy.

He is a sophisticated man. To the left of his chair, his Gillow’s Pembroke Table is within easy reach. His pipe and pouch rest within an Ebony bowl, placed exactly at the far left end of the table, though still in reach. The decanter of Courvoisier brandy rest upon his 16th century silver server. The snifter sits next to the decanter, with her opening covered with appropriate sized linen.

He is a sophisticated man. But, every morning his mirror is deceived. The visage of the perfectly groomed man fails to reveal his uninhabited soul. During the day he rests within the safety and luxury of the finest leather on his chair. His lips have enjoyed his fine brandy. The scent of expensive pipe tobacco lingers long into the night. He dozes off in his self quarantined cell.

He is a sophisticated man. He reaches into the drawer of his table and rests his manicured fingers on the cold stainless steel.

He Was a Sophisticated Man.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Cost of a Cupcake

It must have been one daunting task to feed seven kids everyday of the week. In our house there were five boys (small horses), and two girls. Mom used to pack our school lunch everyday which meant almost a loaf of bread just for those. And, I never met a boy that only ate one sandwich of any concoction. Mom also made our treats, cookies and cupcakes, by the gross.

Well, as boys will be boys, one of the precious cupcakes came up missing just before supper time. Supper time, means mass grazing for the boys, we didn't have much money but we sure did eat good. Anyway, mom got really upset and knew it was one of her male offspring. How did she know? Nobody confessed to the cupcake caper so dad sent all of the boys upstairs to bed with no supper. No supper, a fate worse than death for five stomachs that required a constant flow of substance for survival, yet alone to thrive and become pillars in our community.

Off to bed, we climbed up the stairs, I was mumbling something to be sure. The three older boys started to argue and accuse each other of the cupcake caper. As the accusations and denials flew across the bedrooms an awful truth began to descend upon us, we are gonna get hungry, in fact we might even stay up all night fighting the severe hunger pains that would descend upon us any minute. With the pains of being famished descending so did the tears.

An older brother, who shall remain nameless, unless he doesn't buy me a steak dinner, headed down the stairs making his speech of confession and blubbering words of contrition. It only took a minute for the rest of the herd to descend the trail and gather at the feed trough. I might never know if that brother was the real culprit of the cupcake caper. In fact, he may have just been the one that was most hungry. After all he did turn out to be six foot six inches. That my friends is a big horse.

Jesus took a lot of time when it came to dealing with food and our earthly needs. On the hillside He fed thousands with a minuscule amount. He grilled fish outside for the disciples. In the upper room He opened a door of grace with bread and wine. And, during a great Jewish feast He declared that He was the Bread of Life. I am so blessed and glad to know that I don't have to go to bed hungry anymore.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Eyes of Christ

The Eyes of Christ

It was the eyes o Christ, those magnificent eyes that-
Watched a blessed wedding celebration and made sure that the joy of the event would continue.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That looked upon a mass of humanity and recognized individual souls,
talking to them about life in His coming kingdom.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That looked into the heart of a great religious teacher and created a thirst for eternal life.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That looked past a life filled with failure and sin worthy of death,
and by His gaze and words her soul found freedom and a purpose
for living far greater than chains of this world.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That looked with powerful compassion on a man whose home was a field of bones and stones.
The man whose only friends were the fiends that haunted his every second, minute, hour.
That looked past the evil that was evident and focused on the soul
that was hidden by rag and ruin.
Those magnificent eyes of Christ.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That watched and heard a powerful warrior begging the Great Healer to touch his daughter.
A warrior whose battle hardened soul was ready to die by the spear,
but trembled in fear over the thought of losing his own flesh and blood.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That watched as a man begged for food and searched for dignity in dust and dirt,
that some of that very dirt that reminded the blind of his plight was
transformed into a salve of sight.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That drew friends into an intimate fellowship where basin, bread and wine
would become instruments of grace and relationship.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That entreated three friends to help Him in His hour of need,
looking past their inability to be vigilant, knowing of their future.
It was the eyes of Christ-
That pierced the heart of a political puppet telling him that all power was
granted by the King of the Universe.
It is the eyes of Christ-
That recognize the man by the side of the road holding his sign,
"Will Work for Food" and is acquainted with pain and despair,
still knowing that he is a man of worth and eternal value.
It is the eyes of Christ-
That look into the hollow shell of the woman whose existence is propped
by the pill and the bottle, whispering to her soul that she can begin again
and with His grace her life will be vibrant and whole.
O, Let Us Have Those Magnificent Eyes of Christ.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Lenten Thought

A Lenten Thought

Close, Come to His Cross,
The Scene, His Life, Seem as Dross.

I Will Cherish the Old Rugged Cross

The Wood, The Blood,
Attack my Soul Like a flood.
I Want to Flee,
In His Visage, it is Me.

I Will Cling to the Old Rugged Cross

He Hangs in My Place,
Clothed in Disgrace.
His Head Bowed Low,
From Brokeness, Life does Flow.

I Will Cherish the Old Rugged Cross

His Eyes, Upon Me Gaze,
My Tears, My Vision does Haze.
The Death Post, I Again Come Near,
For My Need I See Clear.

I Will Cling to the Old Rugged Cross

My Hands, Soul, do Grip His Feet,
Souls Rejoice! For Salvation Sweet.
The Post, The Beam, That Raised Him High,
Transport All Beyond the Sky.
tg/2-11-01
"I Will Cling- I Will Cherish" The Old Rugged Cross-George Benard
Blessings to All.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Paradox of the Cross

These days, leading to Good Friday and Easter, the old hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross", is a favorite among congregations. And, I often wonder if we really think about the words of the hymns we sing. I believe that the cross is a paradox. I mean, there is a truth that is either veiled, or easily passed over. We lift our voices and sing, "I will cherish the old rugged cross", "I will cling to the old rugged cross." Do we really mean, cling to the old rugged cross? What about, cherish, do we really, cherish?

There are few objects that I cherish. My girls gave me a carved stone elephant from Zimbabwe, as a birthday present. I cherish that because of my girls. It is something I hold close and it is very personal. A family heirloom, a fine piece of jewelry,these are items people might cherish. To cherish is to hold close, to gaze upon, understand it value and worth, not necessarily monetary worth. To cherish the cross is to get close and personal. Experiencing the value of the cross means you have come close. Close enough to become appalled at the site, the site of blood, discarded clothing and lives.

I used to find it repulsive thinking about clinging to the cross. What person today would want to place their hands, or worse, their arms and chest, against a post used to execute human beings. The upright of the executioners tool was used over and over until it rotted. The blood of countless bodies would have run down the post and become one with the fibers of the wood. To even think of clinging to such a horrific object should be repulsive. Now, add that our faith, our belief in Christ, centers on the cross. Some would think we are rather barbaric.

If you will come close to the cross with me, if you will be open and vulnerable, you will be able to sing the hymn with honesty and an experiential truth. In order to do that we must accept the horror and humiliation of the execution. Denial will cut short the transformation. Jesus Christ, the Begotten of the Father, the Second Person in the Trinity, the Word and character of God in the flesh, was executed at a time and place recorded in history. His death was real and it was his sacrifice for the sin of mankind. Again, look past the scene and believe that his death was for you.

As you are close to the cross, you must listen to the words of Jesus. He speaks words of forgiveness for his executioners. He speaks words of comfort to his mother and a dear friend. A man, hanging by his side hears words of comfort and life as his earthly life slips away. Listen, as he speaks with parched dry lips for a drink. In his final minutes he cries to his father during his darkest hour, life spent, body broken, blood out poured, he utters his final words and dies.

Standing close, the scene of the execution and the words spoken begin to transform sensitive and contrite hearts. The truth of his sacrifice becomes your truth, the truth of redemption's cost becomes your truth. Your spirit begins to understand that what took place was  for you. Soon, the scene of death and horror seems to fade and peace moves in your heart. With the peace comes new vision, a new eyesight that now looks at the cross and rejoices in the beauty.
.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Scars

The scars on feet and hand,
Visible across the land.

Did people notice  scars on His feet,
As He walked on the cold stone street?

As He raised His hands  high
Did scars find one's searching eye?

Did His brow show signs of thorn,
A cruel crown this King had borne?

For now, He is cloaked in Light,
He did cry, It is over, I've won the fight.

Transformed from signs of hate,
Scars will embrace as we pass His gate.

The hatred of men, shown one day,
In His kingdom banished, forever away.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Sweet Passing

Five generations together in a room, soon to experience a glimpse of eternity.
The saint of the family, the matriarch, is breathing her last air of confinement.
She has shared her heart, her life, and her last words with each.
Her white hair is a simple reflection of her soul, pure and unspoiled.
Her body bears the evidence of her years, yet her spirit bears the richness of life lived.
Life filled with children and chores, wonderment and worry.
Life full of images etched on every soul in that room.
Life of berry picking and shortcake, jumping grasshoppers and wild raspberries.
Children laughing and playing in the bathtub on a Saturday night,
in Sunday school the next morning, singing Jesus Loves Me This I Know For The Bible Tells Me So. Words sung a thousand times by the gathered in the room,
witnessed so many countless times by the life and love and sacrifice of the saint
soon to meet her God.
It is easy to notice her skin, thin as tissue paper, causes a hesitation to hug as firmly as deserved.
The scars are evident on her knees, of a trait passed on.
All mortal signs of life's days and years soon to be replaced by immortal
glory filled instruments of praise.
God's saint has been ready for this day for a long time, even yearning for its arrival.
As the months became years and frailty became reality, her spirit looked past the stars more and more, seeing the unseen.
For some around her now, life changed for a season.
A few short months of helping in the mundane requirements of everyday living.
Not work to be endured or a burden to bear, but an expression of love,
not ever to come close to filling up what was poured out for them.
Her breathing is very slow and shallow now, a sense of rest and contentment seems
to be filling the small room.
As she sleeps on her side, as she always did, her lungs are no longer filled
with the paltry air of the earth,
but with the celestial air of the heavens and her frail hand is held
by the One she so loved and longed to see.

Friday, January 27, 2017

High Flight

This poem has been the most read piece that I have posted. High Flight used to be run when the major networks ended their television programming.

Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of.

Wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hovering there, I've chased the shouting wind along and flung my eager craft thru footless halls of air.

Up, Up the long delirious burning blue I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace where never Lark or even Eagle flew.

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space. Put out my hand and touched the Face of God.

Pilot MaGee composed the poem beginning at thirty thousand feet and had it complete before he touched down. It was written on an envelope. He died later in a training accident.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A New Year

Our Christian life is not supposed to be perfectly planned out. Abraham was called by God to travel to a land he had never seen. That was certainly not planned out by Abraham. Moses was called to lead a couple of million Jews from Egypt and walk through the Red Sea. Again, an event not planned out. 

In the New Testament we find three astronomers who decide to start following a bright group of lights in the night sky. They had no idea how long it would take to achieve their goal. So, they set out believing they were going to find the King of the Jews. Did they know how long they would travel? Yes they did, and no they didn't. They knew they would travel as long as it took to get to their destination. No, they really didn't know exactly how long that would be. They were patient and determined.

These events may not have been planned out by the participants, but they were by God. If you insist that each and every day follow a perfect plan or script how can God surprise you or use you? We live in an instant world. Our news comes instantly. I check the weather on my phone and in seconds I know the temperature thousands of miles away. 

Be open to the unexpected. God might show up in the grocery store when an elderly person needs help. Or an exasperated mother, who is struggling with her little children, needs an extra arm or shoulder. I love the commercial that depicts an elderly lady shuffling across the intersection. A very annoyed and impatient driver is inching closer and being a jerk. She looks at him, and in a flash, she hits the front bumper of his car and the air bag goes off. She must of had a heavy purse and strong arm.

We have no idea what is in store for us this coming year. And, I for one am glad. I do not want to know if tragedy is awaiting. If it comes I know that God will give me the grace and strength to handle it. I do not want to know if some great prosperous event is going to land on me. My anxiety of waiting for such an event would make me useless. 

The words of Jesus can slap me in the face. Remember, "Not even a sparrow falls from the sky that your Heavenly Father does not see." God knows, we do not. Are you in the spiritual mindset that would allow God to interfere with your calendar, cell phone, television programs, or ??????

T. A. Galloway is the author of Amazon's #2 Family and Inspiration book, A Mother's Heart Moved the Hand of God.