WHY?

Bill Murphy ©2021

After Mommy and Daddy, one of the first words a child learns to say is WHY?  It’s a word that parents will hear countless times!  Even our Heavenly Father is asked this question!  We’ve made WHY a very important part of our vocabulary.  Don’t get me wrong: It’s most often a good thing to ask why!  We learn things when we ask why… things we might have missed had we not asked.

My father illustrated this principle with one of the most powerful lessons he ever taught me.  He did this in a story he told during the late 1940s.  I was perhaps only in 1st or 2nd grade. 

Our family was traveling from our home in Jackson, MS to Delhi, LA to visit his sister and family.  This was in pre-interstate days, and much of our route was along two-lane US Highway 80.  

Before reaching Vicksburg, where we’d cross the mighty Mississippi River, we crossed numerous smaller bridges spanning other rivers and creeks.  As we approached one particular bridge (one that Dad referred to as the ‘new’ bridge) he told me the following story.

Years before, he said, there’d been a terrible storm with extremely heavy rains.  The rain came down in torrents, making it difficult to see ahead.  Rivers and creeks suddenly flooded and overflowed.  And the bridge ahead (of us) suddenly washed away!  One by one, because they could not see ahead clearly, drivers failed to stop in time and drove off and into the raging water below, to be swept away.

But one old black man, was driving slowly, and cautiously.  He saw the danger ahead… and stopped!  Then, he ran back down the highway, and frantically tried to warn approaching vehicles of the danger ahead.

But this was 1940s Mississippi.  Ours was a land peopled by two separate and separated races… races divided by more than simply skin color.  Sadly, then we were separated by trust, or rather, a lack of trust.  Needlessly, irrational false-fear kept others from seeing the warning… and from failing to ask ‘why?’  They swerved around their potential savior and proceed on, into their watery deaths.  

Thankfully, someone using their brain (and heart) stopped… and then another.  Finally the ‘lemming-march’ was halted.

Although It was a quick lesson, told while driving across a simple bridge along an old asphalt highway, that story had a tremendous impact on me.  The amazing thing is, it taught me a multitude of life-lessons, lessons which have stood with me for a life-time!  It taught me far more than that it’s ok to ask why?

As he told it, Dad probably had no idea of the lasting impact it would have upon my life.  He told it as if it were 100% true, and I’m certain that it is!  My Dad was not one to make up stories… unless he admitted to the fiction.  But try as I might, I’ve never been able to verify this event… as sad as it was.  That old fellow who risked life and limb to save others, should be honored, should be remembered!  

I hope that somehow, somewhere, that old fellow knows that the story of what he did meant a lot to me when I heard about it… and that it still does today! 

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WANTS AND NEEDS

© 2021 Bill Murphy

This is not ‘preaching to the choir.’  If anything, it’s preaching to the preacher.  Yours truly being the preacher in this case.  I need this message more than most!  This study has been real eye opener, and a heart convicter.  The subject is an ageless dilemma, as old as time itself.  If we’re honest, it’s an issue which lies at the very heart of our greatest victories and accomplishments.  It’s also at the root of our greatest mistakes and failures. 

Perhaps it would be wise to take a closer look at these all-important but small five-letter words, WANTS and NEEDS, and how they relate to our walk with God.

We all need God.  That’s a no-brainer!  The issue is – simple wants and needs are never a simple issue for us to grasp – to neither understand or to accept.

First, we should return to the basics, in an attempt to understand the meanings of the terms need and want

NEEDS:  The following is a short list of things we need.

  1. Water.  We must have water to survive!  A high percentage of our bodies are made up of water itself.  Without water, we become a dead, dry, shriveled corpse… like a mummy!
  2. Oxygen.  We must have oxygen to breath.  Otherwise we suffocate.
  3. Warmth.  We don’t have thick and furry flesh.  Our bodies (without clothing) are incapable of sustaining us in low temperatures. 
  4. Food.  We need nourishing food to sustain our bodies, to give it energy, to help it to grow and remain healthy.  Otherwise, we grow sick, weak, and die.  The key word here is ‘nourishing.’

These are of course the very basics.  Take any one of them away, and you’ll not have a long lifetime.  Now let’s look at this same list as viewed as wants.

WANTS: 

  1. Water.  Although most any water will do, we want Perrier, Evian, Glacéau, you know, the good stuff, pure and unfiltered, from some ancient un-polluted source, cold and delightful.  Ahhhh.  That’s GOOD! 
  2. Oxygen.  We buy air purifiers for our home and our offices.  They spew out purified air, washed free of impurities, and laced with the fresh scent of jungle flowers.  Wow!  We complain about, hey… what’s that stink?
  3. Warmth.  A coat?  No, not just any coat will do.  What’s popular this year?  What are our favorite movie and sports star wearing this year?  What’s ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’?  Do I look good in beige?   Let’s look on-line!
  4. Food.  Yes, I’m here to eat.  But that’s only a portion of the equation.  I want to be entertained, to be served, to be pampered with food-stuffs that delight and brings joy to my pallet.  Pigs eat.  I prefer to dine!  Dinner should satisfy more than simply my requirement for food.   

There’s most often a vast gap between needs and wants.  Needs usually determine what we are.  Wants often determine what we’ve become or are becoming.

We often compare our physical wants and needs when we’re faced with decisions in life and daily living.  That’s good!  That’s the way it should be.  But do we ever compare our spiritual wants to our spiritual needs?

When we realize there actually is such a thing as spiritual wants and spiritual needs, do we understand that the difference between the two has a tremendous impact upon our relationship to God? 

There’s an old hymn that’s seldom sung today that speaks of our need of God.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;

Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now, my Savior,

I come to Thee.

It was written in 1872 by Annie S. Hawks, and the words are as true today as they were then.  As Christians, we all agree that we need God! But what does ‘needing’ Him actually mean?  Don’t we believe that it means all of Him?  And by ‘all’ don’t we understand that to mean every bit of Him that we are capable of having?

God has a will.  And God also has a plan.  And His will and His plan reach down to us on a personal, one-on-one level!  Alone, we’re both hopeless and helpless.  And our hopelessness and helplessness means that we need Him, and we need to know His plan and His will for our lives.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 

plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   Jeremiah 29:11

God put a tremendous amount of trust in us!  Among the many wondrous things He’s given to us, He also gave us (allowed us) to have a will of our own.  Our will is a blessing, but we can turn it into a curse.  God elected to allow us to choose Him!  And although it’s obvious that we need Him… we fall victim to the power of the enemy and allow this miraculous gift of will to freely operate in the realm of wants.  God has wants also, and He wants us to join Him someday in Heaven.  But He’s allowed us to have a will like as unto His, and this will allows us to have wants, many which are dangerous, and even physically and spiritually fatal!

Jeremiah quoted God saying…  

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 

plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We need to allow God to have full reign in out lives.  He knows what’s best for us, and His best are far better than anything we could ever imagine!  And yet, he speaks and tells us that He has plans to give us hope and a future… and we stand and reply to Him that we’re using our ‘trump-card’ of will… and that we’d decided to do things our way… the way we want to!  WOW!  Been there.  Done that.  Lived to regret it!

I think we all understand that needs are important.  But do we also realize that wants are equally as important… because wants can be dangerous, damaging, and fatal!  This is true in the social, physical realm and especially true spiritually!

Prayer

Lord, I don’t know the answers.  But you do.  I don’t understand half of the what’s and few of the why’s. But you do. I can’t see what’s ahead, but you can.  I don’t know the way, but you do.  Lord, I can’t. But you can. I need Thee, oh, I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now my savior.  I come to Thee.  Amen

HOLY COMMUNION

What it means to us. What it means to Him 

Bill Murphy, January 2021

Introduction:

When God does something ‘special,’ I’ve heard it said that He was really showing out.  He certainly did this time… In giving this special message to me!  I’m taking none of the credit, for this exciting fresh look is only a closer look at words spoken and events accomplished over two thousand years ago.  Nothing in it is new.

I praise and thank Him for allowing me to have this fresh look.  The message it gives is not new, nor is it my message – it is His entirely.

As the song says, ‘God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good!’  To me, this time, He was especially good! 

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What we’ve come to refer to by such terms as ‘Holy Week’ is fast approaching.  The date of Easter Sunday this year is April 4, 2021.

No doubt there will be many sermons preached on the Church’s observance of Communion.  This observance is also referred to as a rite, and observance, a ceremony, a sacrement, a rite or service.  By what ever your local assembly calls it, it is something originally instituted by Jesus, and we are instructed to continue the practice.  As in other observances, such as baptism, it is a physical expression (or symbol) of a deeply spiritual event.  Jesus Himself stated it perfectly when He said we should participate in communion as a physical act of REMEMBRANCE.

The question is: what is it that we’re supposed to be remembering?

Luke and Corinthians both answer that question when they record Jesus as saying, ‘In remembrance of Me.’  

The reason this meal is referred to as the ‘last supper’ is because it was the last meal that Jesus shared with His disciples that could be thought of as normal and ordinary.  He was about to die on the cross… and nothing in Heaven or Earth would ever be the same again!  It was a monumental event… at a monumental time in the history of mankind!

We have national holidays for similar reasons… days set aside to remember specific times and events in history.  For many years after World War Two, we celebrated VE Day (Victory In Europe) and VJ Day (Victory In Japan).  Those two celebrations are no longer considered to be ‘politically correct,’ and are no longer celebrated.  Yet, because it was a pinnacle turning point in the history of our nation, we still remember December 7th, the date on which Pearl Harbor was bombed.  

Although VE and VJ days were considered as days of celebration and joy, because they were times of remembering victories… Pearl Harbor Day can never be remembered with joy and with a ‘celebratory’ spirit. It is a day of remembering tremendous sacrifice and great loss of life.

Now, let’s consider our original question.  What did Jesus want us to remember today when we receive communion?

Scripture tells us that the broken bread is to remind us of his broken body, and the wine to remind us of his shed blood.  This is what we are told to remember as we receive communion… this is the purpose of communion.  But we all already know that, don’t we?  

Yes, we do.  But just like the song ‘Jesus loves me,’ the message never gets old, never wears out, never loses its powerful message!

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And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.   Matthew 26: 26-28

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.  And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.  And he said unto them,  This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.    Mark 14: 22-24

And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.  And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.    Luke 22:14-20

…The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.    I Corinthians 11:23-26

I often hear a term used which is interpreted as ‘participating in a rite or ceremony,’ and that term is ‘celebrating’ it… as in celebrating the last supper.  Personally, I don’t think ‘celebrating’ is an appropriate word for remembering the horribly painful, brutal, bloody death of our Lord and Savior!  We can’t begin to imagine the shame, the pain, the suffering that He went through!  Hollywood attempted to show us, but that was only a weak attempt at making us understand.  We always thing of Jesus and His strength, faith, steadfast courage and unshakable spirit… yet scripture describes how He agonized over what was about to happen to him!  Think about that!  Remember it!  Now where is you ‘celebration’?

As in most all things, there’s both a ‘what’ and a ‘why.’  We’ve just had a brief and painful look at most of the whats of this last supper.  The ‘why’ is no less monumental in its supreme importance to God, to His will, to His plan for mankind, and to each and every one of us… then as well as today!

Two thousand years ago, our calendars changed.  Jesus Christ changed more than just our calendars, but everything!  Before him, God had a special family of people, people He referred to as ‘His Children.’  This was the Hebrew Nation.  

These Hebrew people, living in Jerusalem, in the very shadow of the temple, were not only subject to the laws of God… but also subject to Roman law.  They paid taxes to Rome, and Tithes to God in the Temple.  And their sins were never completely forgiven.  Instead they were atoned for, meaning, they were rolled forward for another year when all of these collected sins were atoned for all over again on the Day of Atonement.  A sacrifice was made, and blood was shed, to pay the price for the people’s sins.  ‘Church’  was a rather bloody place back then!

But Jesus changed all that!

Jesus came and not only taught us how to live in harmony with one another and with God, but He also preached forgiveness and love… and mercy and grace… faith and hope… and peace and joy.  He taught us how to find and to follow the pathway to the very heart of God! 

And then, He did something that bewilders and amazes us today.  He did something that all the blood of centuries of animals could never do… He paid the price for all sins ever committed before, and all sins committed afterwards.  He himself became the sacrifice, dying on the cross, as a final and complete sacrifice, which would remove sin from mankind for once and for all!  All that was required of us was to reciprocate… He’d give His life for us but He wants us to give our lives to (and for) Him!  He did this for everyone, everyone past and present…everyone who will give up (surrender) their wills unto Him.  

Oh yes, then, as even today, there are many who cannot or will not agree to this exchange… and they chose a temporary life on earth over eternal life in heaven.  And yet, He suffered and died even for them… even though they reject his unbelievably wonderful ‘deal.’  He did this for me, and He did this for you!

When we remember (like He told us to do) His broken body and the shed precious blood, we shutter in awe, our eyes flood with tears, our knees go weak and we fall to the ground in deep humility, respect, reverence.  We worship at His feet.  We worship because of what He has done for us.  We are to remember His great pain and suffering, which He willingly subjected Himself to, so that we might have eternal life with him!

We are involved in this equation.  We are the ‘why’ He did this!  We are the why He suffered, bled, and died on the cross.  He did it to save our filthy hides, to take the place for all of our sorry sins… Himself to die that WE might live!

Earlier we saw what was in it for Him.  But now we’ve seen what’s in it for US.  It is all together different… total polar opposites.  He got the pain, suffering, and death… but we get the joy, happiness, peace, and life eternal!  That second part takes away our tears.  That causes us to celebrate!  That joy sends us to our feet, our hands lifted in PRAISE!  That’s what’s in it for us.

In many restaurants, especially in beach areas, you often see notification signs stating: NO SHIRT. NO SHOES. NO SERVICE.  The meaning is clear, their dining in NOT that casual!  Dress for the occasion!  Four and Five Star Restaurants will probably require a reservation!

Do we need a reservation to partake of the Lord’s Supper, to partake in communion? 

Actually, in a very real sense, we do!  The ‘reservation’ that is required is that we come to His table in sincere humility, and with an attitude of worship, understanding, and respect for what it means.  We need to reserve our hearts, minds, and spirits to come to the table in deep awe and respect.  Read what Paul tells us in the book of Corinthians. 

“The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.  Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.     I Corinthians 11:24-29

Now, as we stand before the altar, and the loaves and the wine lay before us, this year let’s be honest with ourselves and honest with God… and let’s consider carefully not only what we are remembering, but also why.  And let’s consider not only what’s in it for us, but especially, what’s in it for Him!

Isn’t it amazing, that something so separate and diverse as are worship and praise, that they can come together almost as one, in an event so monumental to our very faith!  We would miss oh so much to see the one and ignore the other!

It’s also amazing to consider that communion ‘flips the coin’ so to speak.  We tend to think that praise brings about worship… but during communion, it’s worship which brings on praise!  

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My First Airplane Flight

THE SUPER CONNIE

     My first airplane flight almost wasn’t.  Let me explain.

     I’ve always liked airplanes, models as well as the real things.  My first model was given to me by an older first cousin, years before I was capable of building it.  And, during the 40s and 50s our home in ‘Doodleville’ of south Jackson, MS was right on the landing pattern of Delta and Southern airlines flying into Hawkins Field. 

     Two weeks after graduating from Mississippi College in 1963, I was sworn into the 172nd Military Airlift Group of the Mississippi Air National Guard… and immediately shipped off to basic training at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Texas.  That trip was to be the very first airplane flight in my life… the flight that almost wasn’t.

     At that time the 172nd was flying the aircraft in the photo… the Lockheed Super Connie, the military version of the highly successful Super Constellation commercial airliner.

    I was really looking forward to that first flight.  It seems strange now, for someone who’d always loved all things flying, that this was to be my very first flight – at age twenty-two!  But that was how it happened.  And now, that exciting time had finally come! 

    One by one, the four powerful engines roared to life, and the whole airframe shook like a living being.  I’m sure I must have been grinning from ear to ear.  After a brief engine warm-up, we taxied out to the end of the runway.  Soon… we’d be airborne!

    The engines roared to full power and the plane lunged forward.  We slowly gathered speed, and within seconds we were really streaking.  Then suddenly, all four engines throttled back, the brakes began squealing, and we came to a squealing stop near the end of the runway.  The engines were shut down.  A few moments later the pilot walked back through the cabin explaining that ‘we’d had a slight problem.’  I didn’t consider not being able to takeoff as ‘a slight problem.’

    Soon, a truck came along side, and a couple of mechanics set up a ladder next to an engine on the right side.  They removed a few panels to expose the ‘problem’ motor, and began ‘tinkering.’  After about twenty minutes, they put the panels back in place, climbed down the ladder and had a pow-pow with the flight crew beneath the engine.  A few minutes later the mechanics drove off.  Our crew came back aboard and announced that were were going to ‘try it again.’  That was the exact words!

    Once again, the engines roared to life, we turned around, and taxied back to where we’d started… and, as the pilot said, we ‘tried it again.’

    This time, our take-off was a complete success.  After a quick climb out, we turned and headed toward Texas.  I was on my very first airplane ride!

    But that was not the end of the story.  The ride to Texas was somewhat bumpy… actually, it was much like a roller-coaster ride on a very old and rickety roller-coaster!  I was totally embarrassed when I became air-sick!  How dare myself!  I, the lover of airplanes, was air-sick!  How mortifying!  It was all that I could do to keep the contents of my stomach down.  When we landed at Lackland I was probably the only one on the base to be GLAD and THANKFUL to be down on the ground so that I could begin basic training!

    But that’s not the end of the ‘Bill got air-sick on his first flight’ story.

    My time in Texas included about a month and a half of basic training in San Antonio, and then on to technical school in Wichita Falls which lasted until the second week of December.  A holiday fell about the mid point of that time which effectively gave us three days ‘off,’ Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  We were allowed to travel only a hundred miles, which was great for those from Texas… but to Mississippi was much farther.  Taking a HUGE chance, I booked a flight HOME anyway.  (Technically, I was AWOL!

    My second flight would be with Delta Airlines.  And this time, I firmly RESOLVED that I would NOT get air-sick.  I willed myself not to.  And, to prove to myself that I would not… I tempted fate! This was in the mid 1960s, before the days of airline peanuts.  Back in those day, hot MEALS of REAL FOOD was served.  We also had a SELECTION!  So I chose FRIED FISH… and selected MILK as my drink!  And yes, I ate it all!  And no, I didn’t get sick!  Also… I’ve never gotten air-sick again!

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MAGNIFY THE LORD

Bill Murphy  October, 2020

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord. Luke 1:46 (KJV)

For as long as I can remember, that small verse has intrigued me.  And like Mary said in Luke 2:19 about something that affected her, I kept this word ‘magnify’ close to me and pondered it in my heart.  Deep down I felt that there surely could be a deeper meaning here than at first we might suppose.

Words themselves are tools, tools which depict or portray meaning and understanding.  The incorrect ‘tool’ can portray incorrect understanding.

Love is affection, correct?  When our mate says, “I love you,” what if we respond with “I have affection for you too.” Chances are that would go over like a lead balloon!  

So, what does ‘magnify’ really mean?  

The New Living Translation says, my soul praises the Lord.  Magnify = Praise.  Praise = Magnify.  But, can it possibly be that magnify means something even more meaningful and deeper?  Perhaps it does.

The word magnify means to intensify, boost, amplify, enlarge, increase, enhance, expand, or to   augment something.  Onstage musicians use ‘amps’ to amplify the sound so that it will carry farther.  Amplifiers intensify the sound that the individual instruments and singers are capable of making on their own.

But wait!  We’re talking about our souls (and Mary’s) magnifying the Lord!  It’s utterly impossible for us to ‘increase’ our Lord God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth!  

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap;  which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?  And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?  If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Luke 12:24-26  (KJV)

Consider that big black box on stage, the Amp.  The amp doesn’t increase the original sound.  It doesn’t make the guitar itself louder… it takes the sound which originated with the guitar, and augments the sound, making this ‘second generation’ of sound louder than the original.

Now consider the magnifying glass.  It can never make the actual object larger.  It only makes the image of the object larger.  The original object is left unchanged… and now we see an enhanced and enlarged image of that object!

What does the Bible tell us about God and that word image?

So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27. (KJV)

Wow!  I could stop right here.  That one verse explains it all!  

We can never ‘increase’ God!  We can’t add anything to Him.  But, because we are made ‘in His image,’ we are very capable of magnifying the image of Him that others see in us every day.  

Yes, this is most likely a different way of looking at the scriptural word magnify and what it can be interrupted to mean.  But truthfully, when we love Him more and more, and when we worship and praise Him more and more, and when we devote ourself to Him more and more… are not we striving to draw closer and closer to Him, and striving to become more and more like Him?

But how far can we go along this path toward being Holy like God is Holy?  The Apostle Peter gives us a clue in the fourteenth chapter of the the first book of Peter:

As obedient children do not conduct yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.  But as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16

David tells us in Psalms how to both praise and magnify the Lord…

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30 (KJV)

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WHY AM I SO NUTS OVER AIRPLANES?

Bill Murphy  ~  October 2020

The simple answer is that we were raise together.  

Our home in south Jackson, Mississippi was three miles from Hawkins Field, the home to Jackson’s Municipal Airport and the US Army Airforce’s ‘temporary’ AAF Base.  The landing pattern for Delta and Southern Airlines DC-3s was directly over our home.

I was born in early 1941, so my formative years were those hectic and heady days of WWII.  Dutch flyers of the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School were trained there, so the skies over our home witnesses a steady stream of both military and civilian aircraft… mostly all in low-level flight.

An older first cousin lived next door, and when he shipped off to basic training and then to Europe, he left in my ‘safe keeping’ a Comet stick and tissue model that he’d begun.  He promised to complete the model when he returned from the war.  Yes, he survived and returned home safely… but the poor model hadn’t survived my constant ‘viewing.’

The first model that I can remember was a paper model, purchased from a local five and dime.  As for toy planes, it seems that during the war every fighter was a P-40, and every bomber was an A-20 or similar to it.  And yes, I also had a metal pedal-plane.  As you can see from the photo, it too was very P-40ish.  I remember it as being red.  Strange.

One of my favorite plastic toys later on after the war was an early jet fighter… an F-84 Thunderjet made into a water pistol!  It fired (un-scale-like) through the nose.  It was great fun to strafe ants and spiders and the little girls down the street.

My first balsa model was a 10c solid model kit.  I quickly learned the do’s and don’ts of cutting balsa with a razor blade when I sliced through my bluejeans and into my leg.  One’s thigh does not serve well as a cutting board!

Aurora began producing plastic kits in the mid 50s.  One that I remember distinctly was their FW-190.  The year that kit came out, I received no less than THREE of them for my birthday, from different relatives.  Oh well.

I build plastic kits, although in my later years I’ve had to forgo 1/72nd scale due to my older eyes.  I build balsa models, stick and tissue, rubber and small gas/electric power.  I much prefer scale, golden age civilian, WWII, a few WWI types, oh, and the earlier jets.  For many years I’ve downloaded plans from the internet, well sorted and all on a bag full of flash-drives.  If I built a model from those plans every minute, beginning from my birth, I’d still be building!  We won’t talk about my library!  Oh yeah, I like boats and trains too!

TRAPPED!

Bill Murphy,  October 2020

Have you ever been trapped?  I don’t mean trapped for two hours at a piano recital for your neighbor’s six year old wannabe Beethoven.  I’m mean trapped in what could have been a life or death situation, or at least it seemed that way at the time?

I was once trapped in the McCarty-Holman Warehouse elevator with Henry Holman for a few minutes.  But curious as I am, I’d previously done my homework and discovered the release mechanism that allowed us to escape. 

But many years before that great elevator entrapment, my childhood pal, John Gorday and I were trapped in quicksand-like mudd in town creek.

This was in the early to mid 50s.  We were both raised on Evergreen, two blocks north of Battlefield Park.  In the late 40s, the land south of Hwy 80 was mostly undeveloped and wild.  That area might as well have been on another continent!  It became our ‘Amazon Forest’ within walking distance of home.  We’d cut through Battlefield Park between Terry Road and Gallatin… and quickly be in an explorers paradise. Town Creek was our ‘Amazon.’

It had rained previously, and obviously for many days.  The lazy creek had been out of it’s banks, but had now receeded to normal level.  We spied something sticking up from the water, something interesting.

The creek itself was not wide at all in this area, hardly more than four or five feet at most… and shallow.  Wading out to inspect this curious object would be simple, or so we thought!

I can’t remember which brave soul ventured out first, but a few steps beyond dry ground, and still several feet from the water’s edge, we discovered that we were in serious trouble!  The banks were muddy, very muddy, with very deep and sticky mud! The mud was like quicksand with a mega-grip. The photo above does NOT do it justice! We were stuck almost up to our knees!

The one on the bank ventured out as far as they could reach and grabbed a hand of the trapped one and pulled.  Although the one stuck was pulled close enough to the bank to gain enough traction to struggle out of the mud, the ‘rescuer’ was pulled out into the stickly mud!  We’d only switched places!  

This see-saw, back and forth, the rescuer becoming the one needing rescue, went on and on for what seemed like hours!  Back and forth we went until we were exhausted.  But we carried on, inching ever closer and closer to dry ground.

Finally, two very muddy and very tired Amazon explorers lay spent on the backs of the Mighty Muddy Town Creek.  It was time to break camp and head back to Doodleville. 

THE BIRTH OF REVIVAL

By Bill Murphy,  June 2020

Uncle Jordan’s breathing grew more labored.  His hospital room was filled with family and friends, all calling out to God on his behalf.  The man himself felt that his end was near, although he assuredely was not ready to go, not now anyway.  What I’ve fool I’ve been, he thought.  I’ve wasted my life.   His heart had failed him, just as he’d failed God.

There was not a dry eye in the room, as everyone cried out to God.  “Lord forgive me… please,” they heard him say in a weak and trembling voice.  “I don’t want want to died, not without you!”  Then he closed is eyes in resignation.

The family’s anguished cries could be heard halfway down the hallways.  

Two nurses rushed into the room.  The old man lay still, as if in death.  They checked the monitors and gasp.  “This can’t be possible,” one of them said to the other.  “Look, all of his readings are now normal… his blood pressure, heart rythm, temp, everything!  This can’t be possible!  It’s like he’d never been sick a day in his life!”

Uncle Jordan stirred.  He opened his eyes.  “I must have dozed off,” he said.  “I feel so much better now!”

The hospital room erupted in shouts of joy!  Uncle Jordan was back!  He was alive!  And his revival was nothing short of miraculous!  The family was so filled with thankfulness and gratitude that their joy could not be contained.

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The above story illustrates two points: the spiritually sick and dead have no desire or reason to praise – Therefore, praise has no place for the unrevived.  However, worship brings the spiritually sick and dead to a place of recognition of their need of God.  Worship brings us into a relationship with Him where He has been given the approval and welcome to revive us!

Revival, like nothing else, best illustrates the spiritual differences between the concepts of worship and praise.  Each has a place of uniqueness, where one does not and cannot fulfill the role of the other.  

Worship comes before revival.  Worship is admitting to and expressing our surrender to God.  Praise come after revival.  We don’t express humility and surrender thru praise.  We express thankfulness through praise, thankfulness for being revived by Him! 

We cannot praise our way into revival.  Think about it.  The spiritually dead cannot praise, they don’t know how to praise, and they feel neither the need nor the longing to praise.

God has a reason for everything He’s ever done or will do, just as He has a reason for every word He’s spoken or will speak.  Our place is to align ourselves with His Holy Will.  When we seek to follow His leading, and when we strive to see things His way (which we cannot always do!) we stand a far better chance of understanding where the direction of His instructions are leading us. 

Revival surely highlights the differences between worship and praise, clearly illustrating their unique purposes.  Worship leads us into a recognization of our need for revival – and praise is the glorious fulfillment and aftermath of revival!

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THE BOX

Preface

The small community church was anything but a large church.  Yet it was a blessed church.  Never had a church been pastored by anyone who loved God and His flock more than this pastor.  He thought of himself as only the ‘assistant pastor’ saying that God Himself was the pastor.  He was there only to follow God’s leading.

The previous Sunday his message contained several references to the Hebrew Temple.  He mentioned numerous points of temple practices and customs, focusing on the altar.  

That night, the pastor dreamed of the temple.  And in his dream, God instructed him to select two individuals from his flock who were of strong spiritual character.

He was told that each was bring to church the next Sunday, a symbolic offering which they considered to be a gift fitting to be laid at the altar.  He was to give each of these individuals a box measuring around twelve inches by nine by six.  These boxes they were to be the focus of next week’s service and message, as those chosen ones described what their boxes contained, and why.

The following day, the pastor’s first order of business was to secure two suitable boxes.  He found them at a local craft store.  Then, for effect, he spray painted both boxes gold… to represent a treasure box of gifts fit for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Selecting the two who would be given these boxes was a no-brainer.  One went to Abe, and the other to Zed.  The pastor could trust both of them with his life… and with his pulpit.

On Tuesday, he delivered the boxes to Abe and Zed.  Both were rather shaken by the pastor’s proposal.  Neither felt comfortable taking on such a serious spiritual mission.  “Pray about it,” the pastor told them, “I already have.  God will reveal to you what should go into your box.”  And they did.

We’ve all know people in our lives who, as they say, march to the beat of a different drummer, and who watches are set to another time zone.  It’s as if God is that way too.  But honestly… He’s the One who owns the drum and the One who designed the watch… He does what He does when, why, and where He elects!  Behind the scenes, God constructed the following week’s service and message, in the tender hearts of Abe and Zed.

The Service

Abe’s Golden Box

The first part of the service was much as any other service, although rather abbreviated.  The pastor felt deep within his heart that this service would need more time than most of his flock were accustomed to.  He kept the ‘preliminaries’ to a minimum.  He knew in his heart that the boxes would preach the real sermon, the sermon that should be heard and experienced. 

He stood behind the pulpit and gave a brief story about God’s instructions to have two individuals receive boxes, what those boxes were to represent, what they where to contain, and why.  He then motioned for Abe to bring his box forward.

The pastor took a seat on the front row as Abe walked to the altar and laid his box down.  Abe then stepped up to the pulpit.  Abe looked across the congregation nervously.  It was as if he were once again in third grade, standing on stage in the school’s auditorium, awaiting to recite the Pledge Alliance to the Flag.  

Abe began.  “Ours is a small church in a small town, and I am just one of this congregation, one with you.  But I’ve never felt like a ‘just’ anything or anyone.  I know that I am blessed… blessed beyond measure… far above what I may believe that I need… or want.  I have a loving wife, healthy children, a good job, and a happy home.  Yes, I’m a blessed man.  I’m not ‘just’ blessed, I’m blessed with the best… and I say that humbly and gratefully.” 

His knees shook, and yet he was not afraid.  Abe lifted his head and eyes upward, as if to behold the face of God, and he stammered,  “I’m not a wealthy man, Lord.  I don’t possess much of this world’s goods.  But what I have are blessings far too numerous to count, and all of them from you.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Lord, I praise you for all these rich and wonderful blessing.  And so Lord, I thought, what gift is worthy of you… and Lord, only You are worthy of all my praise!”  

The pastor shouted, “Amen!”

“Lord, Abe continued, “I praise you for the million upon million of rich and wonderful blessing you’ve allowed me to enjoy.  I praise you for a billions things, countless people, places, events, and special moments you’ve allowed me to know and experience.  I praise you for my health, my happiness, for a good job, a wonderful church, a great neighborhood in which to live.  I praise you for happy, healthy, well-adjusted children too. I thank you and praise you for giving me wonderful parents… who reared me in such a blessed and happy home.  I have so many things and friends and family members that I can praise you for and be thankful for!  So Lord… I’ve taken all that praise, praises for a million and one things, for thousands and thousands of cherished experiences, and for hundreds of family members and friends… and I’ve placed all of my praise into this box before you!  They are Yours Lord… all of my praise belongs to You!”

God was pleased.  He was very pleased!  God Loves our praise.

Never had the pastor seen the congregation totally immersed in a message.  Everyone was on their feet, their hands in the air, lifting their praises toward heaven.  The organist took note and quickly began a lively bring-the-glory-down hymn of praise… as if it was needed!  Abe had now long since walked away from the pulpit, but the pastor remained, now on his feet, still on the front row.  He too was lost in praise and thanksgiving.  God Himself was in control of the service.

How long did this last?  Who knows.  No one was keeping track of time. Finally, the electric atmosphere of the place slowly settled, and the pastor walked back to the pulpit.  “Today would have been a grand day to have had this place filled with visitors!” he said.  “This is church the way church ought to be!  Now, everyone kindly take a seat, if you can.  We want to hear from Zeke.” 

Zeke’s Golden Box

Zeke reached beneath the pew and pick up his golden box, then slowly walked to the front.  He placed his box on the altar, next to Abe’s.  Then slowly, he walked to the pulpit, and began. “These boxes are, of course, symbolic,” Zeke pointed out.  And mine, like Abe’s, also appears to be empty.  And yet, in a very real sense, it is or rather was, quite empty.  You see, once I was nothing, and now… I’m a child of the King.  Let me explain.”

Zeke took a deep breath.  Both hands grasp the podium.  His face took on the look of deep sorrow and despair.  Then he began.  “My life was once a useless pile of trash, a heap of worthless rubble.  My life was a mess.  I was lost.  I was as lost as if I’d be dropped into the frozen arctic or deep into a sweltering jungle.  I had no hope, no plan, no dream, no life.  I once saw death itself as a welcomed relief and a blessing.  I was a worthless crumbled heap of trash at the bottom of a pit of my own digging.”

The congregation sat in stunned silence.  This didn’t sound like the Zeke they all knew and loved.  They hung onto his every word.  “And then, miracle of miracles… a light shined down into that dark, dank pit.  It was the radiant smile of the Jesus.  He extended His welcoming hand to me, beckoning me to come out of that pit.”

Abe paused and looked toward heaven.  Tears flowed down his cheeks.

Once again I crumbled.  But this time it was not collapsing into myself in regret and despair.  This time I crumpled in His presence in total surrender.  How could One so Holy stoop so low to find one so undeserving as me?  How?

Yet He had!  He’d looked into my heart and seen that I had given up.  He saw that I now recognized my sorry wretchedness and shame, and He reached down and He gave me what I knew not what to ask for… His forgiveness.  As we sing in my favorite hymn, ‘I once was lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind, but now I see.’  He did that for me!

My Savior washed away those grimy stains of filth, rot, and sin, and make me whole.  Yes, He washed me, heart, mind, hands, and soul…and made me clean again, as fresh and clean as a newborn!  I was reborn afresh in Him!

He took me in His arms and into His heart, and He called me ‘His son.’  How could this be?  What had I done to deserve such favor?  Why me?My heart was filled to overflowing, and yet, at the same time, I felt so empty, so undeserving.  What did I have to give Him in return?  He must h  ave read my thoughts, for He placed both arms around me, and in the sweetest, kindest voice I’d ever hoped to hear, He softly whispered… All I want is you!

The congregation was silent.

“None of us are worthy of His love, no, not one.” He paused for a long moment.  “I was the most unworthy of the unworthy, and yet, He stooped to save me.  He accepted me as I was, and forgave me, and loved me, and began making me what I should be and could be!  And I praise Him for that.  You see, praise is something we give.  And by definition, we must have something in order to give something.  When He found me, I was nothing, and I had nothing.  I had no praise to give.  I had only dirt, and filth, and sin.  And He took that away!  

Today, I have His forgiveness, and I have His love.  Today, I have something to give.  I can give Him my praise.  But I will never, not to my dying day, forget the agony of that heavy burden of sin and shame which once weighed me down.  And I’ll never forget the unbelievable joy of having those heavy sin-stained chains lifted off my soul.  It was not praise that lifted those heavy chains, but my surrender, and my worship unto Him!  When I had no praise, I gave Him my total worship.  And now, I make it my goal to surrender, in bowed worship before Him daily.  I know from where I came.  And I know who brought me out.  And I know what lifted me out… it was surrendering myself to Him.  You see, I could not praise Him until I worshipped Him.  

The sad thing is, I think we sometimes think that praise alone is enough.  Do we even confuse worship and praise?  They’re not the same.  Yes, I have everlasting praise for what He’s done and for who He is!  But let’s face it, praise is cheap.  Praise is something we’re encouraged to spread around!  We praise our choir’s singing, our pastor’s preaching, and when I get home for dinner I’ll praise my wife’s home-made biscuits!  But I won’t be worshipping any of those people or those things.  Worship is reserved for the The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  If we worship anything or anyone else, that’s the vilest of sins!

Praise is a celebration.  Worship is surrender.  God delights in our praise.  He demands our worship.  Praise is a celebration of victory.  Praise is fun!  Praise is most often a group activity.

But worship costs us.  Worship comes with a price to be paid.  Worship is surrender. Worship is deeply personal, between you and God alone, heart to heart.  The price we pay to worship Him is… self!  

My box represents my worship.  My box is empty, because it represents the emptiness that I am without Him.  It represents that I once was in the box, but I’ve given my life, heart, mind, body and soul to Him!  What was once in my box is now in Him!  That’s why my box is empty.  Think about it.  Abe’s box is full… of something fantastically wonderful…  his praise.  God loves that.  But my box is empty, because I’ve emptied it through my worship unto God.  The truth is, we all need to bring two boxes to God’s altar.

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SQUARE PEG

SQUARE PEG / ROUND HOLE

I’m a square peg in a world of round holes.  It hasn’t always been this way.  Once my world was a world of square holes, and I fit in quite nicely.

You no doubt see where this is going, and have already jumped to the obvious conclusion… that the fault lies not in the holes, but in the peg.  Right?

Not all obvious conclusions are correct.  Magicians ply their trade based upon this one flawed assumption.

I’ll grant you this apparent fact, ‘things’ have changed and I have not.  The question here is-who is a fault.

I’ll begin by saying that I refuse to take the blame, not all of it    anyway.

Society does morph and change.  This is a well documented fact.  The question is not that change has taken and is taking place, but if that change is profitable, positive, and good.  

Iron rusts.  Lunch meat spoils.  Fireplace logs morph into cold powdery dust.  

But were not talking about inanimate objects here.  We’re talking about living, breathing, day to day life.  I’m encouraged to get with the program, to adapt, to go with the flow.  Sorry, I’m not a lemming. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming for an explanation.)

The finger seems to always point at the peg.  Other pegs have changed.  They’ve whittled themselves down, sanded themselves into a nice conforming rounded shape, they’ve adapted.  Yes they have.  But let’s change the word here.  In ‘adapting,’ they’ve ADOPTED the new standard, the standard of round.

I have a difficult time in falling in behind Lemming Number One.  Over the heads of others I see something ahead that doesn’t seem quite ‘right.’   Hey guys, slow down a minute.  Lets check out this path and see where it’s leading!   In doing this, I stand out.  I’m a non-conformist.  I’m a trouble maker.  I’m a square peg that simply won’t fit into this world’s round holes.  To apologize for that would be like saying “I’m sorry that I’m me.”  I can’t imagine hearing you say that about yourself. 

This lemming has chosen to step out of the race.  You can have my spot, if you want it.