Doing What Old Men Do

    I’ve just returned from a delightful outing with my childhood pal Buddy Gorday.  For the past hour, we’ve been sitting in his truck in the parking lot of the Madison County Airport, a very active airport for its size, watching aircraft takeoff and land… and sharing sweet memories of the past.  We were doing what old men do.

    There was a time, way back when, in the days when I was far, far younger, when I simply couldn’t relate to this.  This morning my memory was jogged to such a time, many years before, when I experienced a stark and powerful illustration of the ‘progress’ of time, which I could not at that time comprehend.

    Buddy is only eighteen months older than me.  But a year is much, much longer when you’re ten… than when you’re eighty.  Remember?  This day, Buddy and I were far closer to 10.  We were in his front yard at the time, probably doing what robust, active boys did during those days long before TV and video games.  We chased one another, dared each other to ‘see’ if we could jump over the neighbor’s hedge, always doing active and physical things like that.  And that’s when we spied him… and old man slowly making his way down Evergreen Street.

   I don’t recall if he had a cane or not, but he walked slowly, carefully, and slightly bent over as if he needed one.  I stopped my activity, and simply stood and watched, actually a bit confused.  In my young mind, I could relate to only my then young and active body.  I couldn’t understand his slow gate and posture.  My thought was:  Why is he walking so painfully slow?  Doesn’t he understand that all he needs do is to stand elect and walk purposefully and correctly?  I even walked a few paces myself as if to demonstrate!      

   Fast forward seventy years.  Now I understand.  

   This morning, when Buddy pulled up in my driveway, it was two ‘old men’ meeting to go out and play again.  But we had no plans to chase one another around the yard, or to jump hedges.  It was to do what ‘old men’ do… sit and watch the airplanes take off and land.  It’s only ‘the fun’ that has changed to other things.  I’m sure we haven’t changed a bit!

The photo above is of Buddy and me taken on Evergreen Street. I’m sitting in my beloved and much-used airplane ‘kitty-car.’ I’m not sure of the date, but at the time, we were just doing what kids did in the 1940s.

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A TRIBUTE TO AN OLD HERO

1950s Magazine Art

   I’ve been blessed by having numerous (male) heroes in my lifetime, beginning with Hero Number One… JESUS!  Then of course there was my father, Hendrix Murphy, and his father, Matthew Murphy, and mom’s father, Patrick Murphy.  Over the years I learned to admire and respect (in no particular order) Winston Churchill, John Wayne, Red Skelton, and numerous ‘aviation greats’ such as Chuck Yeager, Jimmy Doolittle, Douglas Corrigan, and Bob Hoover.  

   My passion for model airplanes introduced me to another… a super talented aviation artist who created the covers for Model Airplane News Magazine, and other publications, for many years.  His name is Jo Kotula, (1910-1998).

   Jo was Polish.  He and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1910, when Joe was but 6 months old.  By the early 1930s his work was appearing in national publications like Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Newsweek, Air Trails and Popular Science.  He began painting covers for Model Airplane News in 1932, continuing for 38 years, creating more than 400 dramatic paintings.  He also illustrated for Air Force training manuals during and after World War II.  He was among the first aviation artists who mastered the difficult technique of portraying reflective bare metal in bright sunlight.  One of this personal features was not to depict the sky as simply bright blue filled with puffy white clouds!  Yellow, as seen in the illustration, appeared to be his sky-color of choice, appearing often in his work.  

   I found this copy of his 1950 work for Air Trails on-line and downloaded it.  Next, I imported the file into Paintbrush and painted out the wording.  The original magazine must have been old, as there were a couple of tears and folds, in addition to a mark or two… all of which I did my best to repair.   I now have a framed copy of this ‘restored’ tribute to Jo Kotula hanging on my office wall.  If only I had an original of his work! 

THE BOOK OF BOOKS

A very old friend

This old Bible is rather ragged and worn. There are a few green paint stains on it also! This Bible was given to me as a high school graduation gift in June of 1959. It became my ‘go to’ source of inspiration, comfort, information, wisdom, and spiritual understanding. It’s a product of Word Publishers, and has the very best center column reference of any Bible I’ve ever owned! This make if a very treasured study Bible!

The wear you see looks more like abuse that simple wear and tear. Not so! But the green paint that I mentioned earlier came about at the same time that the spine damage occurred. The vehicle our family owned at the time (sometime in the early 70s) was a Ford station wagon, a very inexpensive, stripped down, economy model. It had NO CARPET, so the entire rear deck, with the seats stowed, was bare metal! We’d been doing some work around the house, and there was a can of green paint in the back. Oops.

That Sunday Night after church, our family of six piled into the Ford. Someone (probably me) opened and then closed it… but it was NOT firmly closed. After everyone piled in, and we did a quick head count, we headed home. We made it out of the parking lot successfully, but in accelerating onto the busy street, the tailgate flew up and open, while at the same time the paint can spilled, and that Bible of mine, which had been laid in the rear of the vehicle, slide across the slick rear floor, thru the green paint, and OUT THE OPENED DOOR and onto the street! Fortunately, no kids slid out also!

There was a lot of screaming and yelling, and we stopped in the middle of the street to survey the damage. My Bible lay in the street, battered, bruised, and looking like an abandoned cast off. I picked up the tattered remains. All the pages were there, just no long firmly attached. I cried, I really did.

I still tried to used this Bible, but I had to do so very carefully. I was ashamed to carry such a tattered example of God’s Written Word to church. I immediately began to search for a replacement.

I’m not sure what the publisher’s reasoning was, but search as I did… I could never find another like this one… not with it’s unbelievably amazing center column reference. Oh I found plenty with ‘ok’ references, but they were always references backwards… or references forwards. This old Bible has them BOTH WAYS!

For years, any time I happened to be in a book store, I search for my old Bible’s twin. I asked. Dozens of helpful clerks assisted me, but to no avail.

And then… less the ten short years ago, Carol and I were in what we call a ‘junk-tique’ store. You know the place… really old stuff, nothing really ‘valuable,’ just stuff a degree or two above worthless. And there on the shelf, shamefully priced at less than a dollar, was an IDENTICAL COPY of my treasured Bible! I’d found a true treasure! Ain’t God good!

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My Son’s Bleeding To Death!

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating: It’s no small wonder that I survived childhood!

I give you MERCUROCHROME, a common home remedy found in 99% of homes in the 1940s. Yes, it contained trace amounts of mercury. Yes, mercury is poisonous. And yes, mercurochrome is not seen around much anymore.

It was mostly used on cuts and scratches… and it also containing alcohol…and it burned like the dickens! But some mothers, mine included, used it for other purposed also.

In addition to having mercurochrome, in the 1940s, most doctors still made ‘house calls.’ This was an amazing thing where the doctor CAME TO YOUR HOUSE, instead of you going TO THEIR OFFICE! Crazy, huh? Well, on this particular day, my mother’s little boy, maybe 3 or 4 at the time, had a sore throat. Since it cured most everything, out came the mercurochrome. Using a ‘Q-Tip’ Mom ‘mopped my throat’ with this foul tasting red stuff. You’d get better in self-defense if nothing else!

I must have gotten better. Mom must have forgotten about my sore throat… and her treatment. But don’t you forget, mercurochrome was red… blood red.

Yes! In front of her, I coughed up some bright red stuff! Racing to the phone, and in sheer panic, Mom called our pediatrician. Come quick! Billy’s coughing up blood! Hurry!

I think that’s why we have ambulances today, otherwise one would have been called. Anyway, the doctor raced from North State Street down south to Doodleville and to 802 Evergreen.

Today I must assume that mercurochrome probably had a distinctive smell, because it didn’t take long for the out-of-breath doc to piece together the true story. ‘You just mopped the kid’s throat, didn’t you?’

I’ve often wondered if the doctor charged Mom double that day. I probably would have!

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TRUTH

    I believe that God’s greatest disappointment in the Christian Church is our lack of solid unity.  Know one knows who originated the phrase, ‘Divide and conquer,’ but they were spot on!

 Oh what we could have accomplished for The Kingdom had it not been for a divided church!

    How did this division come about?  Basically, it all boils down to personal opinion!  At some point in time, there was a scribe, a monk, a vicar, a priest or what ever, who read a text and decided for himself that: this is what God’s Word says… but this is what God actually means.   We may called that event ‘interpretation,’ but the truth of the matter is: interpretation really means ‘This is what I assume and therefore believe that this text is actually saying.’  And so the spiral toward division began! 

    Fast forward two thousand years.  Now what are we to do?   God gives us the answer to this dilemma in 2 Timothy 2:15 

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  

    I see several interesting word usages in this passage.  Study tells me that I’m not simply to read scripture, but to ponder over it, to delve deeply into it to and to discern exactly what it is telling us.  Approved tells me that I am gaining the approval of God by making a diligent effort to understand exactly what He is telling me through His written Word.  Ashamed speaks to me of failure, and recognition of that unacceptable, wrongful, and even hurtful act of failure.  Finally, dividing speaks to me of separation, removing error and casting it aside, and understanding and embracing only truth! 

    We are blessed to be thought of as the ‘Children of God.’  But in truth, although we may be adult in age, we are still children in spirit.  And as ‘childish’ children, we continue childish and immature thinking long into adulthood.  As children, we are easily led astray.  Our very carnal world of today is filled with ‘Pied Pipers’ at every turn, attempting to lead us not to — but away from God.  And these modern Pipers use every trick in the book.   And the oldest trick of all is making the ‘bad’ to appear as ‘good’ and leading us away from God’s will while causing us to believe we are heading into His will.

    This is why more than ever we must all study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth, workmen that need not to be ashamed!  

    The second chapter of 2nd Timothy goes on to say in verse 23:   

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.  

    The question is, ‘What is a foolish question?  And, who determines if it is or is it not, foolish?  The verse above certainly implies that we should know the difference!

    God always reveals the truth!  We often think that he’s slow in doing it, yet He always works within His own time frame-work… and that always proves to be right, best, and the best for us all.  Our knowledge of truth is usually a process!  Our responsibility is to ‘allow’ God to work His way and His will with patience.  We have a strong ally to make our ‘burden’ of patience lighter, and that is prayer.

We must remember:  It is God who does the ‘real’ work, we are but His ‘helpers.’  His truth SHALL reign!

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Not Loving My Neighbor

Bill Murphy  2021

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.   Matthew 5:43-48 

I’ve been a church goer since birth, and a Christian since I was knee high to a grasshopper… but there was a time in my life when I chose to turn a blind eye toward this all to familiar verse.

It began in 5th grade at George Elementary on Winter I do believe.  There was a boy in my class named J. D. Hudson, and he and I seemed to be in a constant clash.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but if I’ve ever ‘hated’ anyone in my life, it was J. D.  I you are reading this now, J. D., I pray that you will forgive me.  I’m long over my dis-like of you, I promise.  But I do confess, that I harbored that grudge for far too long!  And perhaps, that was my gravest sin!

J. D. had become such a bitter taste to me, that this emotional dislike actually became a part of my life… and this was a very shameful and troubling part of me!  I tried for years to simple ignore it, but without success.  Why could I not simply let it go?  It wasn’t as if the boy had killed my little sister, or maimed my mother or father… nor did he even kick my dog!  It was just oil verses water gone too far on my part!

Many years ago, some how, God in His mercy helped me to clean those nasty cobwebs out of my soul.  It felt so good to have that cancer melt away!  It was a blemish on my psyche that I’d created on my own, and somehow allowed to exist for too many years… a scar that, praise God, is no long there!  Oh how I hope that J. D. Reads this.  I hope that he’s doing well now, and has prospered all these years, and that he’s somehow forgiven me for my stupid grudge against him.  J. D., I am truly sorry!  I am. 

THE GREATEST SIN

I’ve always considered the greatest sin to be the sin of blasphemy.  But I’m beginning to believe that perhaps the greater sin is our feeble attempts to ‘humanize’ God.  Isn’t it true that we often think along the lines of now if this was me, (as if to say, ‘If I was God’)… I would or wouldn’t do this or that.  It can sometimes be a real slap in the face when we realize that we’re totally incapable of ‘second guessing’ Him!     

Our earthly lives are much like courtroom drama.  We have only just so much evidence at hand on which to form our opinions and understandings, and, we are  constrained by definite time restraints.  God has no restrictions.   And, He has limitless knowledge, both forward and backward in time.  God assuredly has the advantage over us!

The past few weeks the Murphy household has been much like both the courtroom and the boxing ring.  We’re in the process of selling our house in Illinois and moving back home to Mississippi.  Carol and I have turned it over to God, asking Him to lead, guide, and direct.  We truly want His will in all that is done!   Heaven knows the countless mistakes we’ve made in the past in trying to do it ‘our way.’  Our batting average isn’t the best in the world!

But in the current effort God is taking us on the roller-coaster ride of our lives!  One day is sunny and bright with what we see as progress, and the next day storm clouds surround us!  These ups and downs can be trying.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way!  Jesus told us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 

Our ‘roller-coaster ride has been our viewpoint.  But God keeps showing us that what we see as down can actually be an up.  What we see as 2 – 2 = 0, He keeps showing us can actually be 4… when He’s doing the math!  Only He can change a minus to a plus and do so in the blink of an eye… our eyes! 

There’s an old church song that says, ‘He is good all the time.  All the time, He in good!’  We’re seeing this proven right before our eyes and on a daily basis.

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BE A MAGNIFYING GLASS

This is a dust-off of a very old write, a presentation for a weekly devotional I gave while working for Jitney Jungle over twenty years ago.  I begin this with a brief  description of my life-long respect for communication clarity.

One of my earliest remembrances was spawned at Halloween during the late 1940s.  Battlefield Park in south Jackson, Mississippi held an annual Halloween fest for children, which included an overabundance of candy, bobbing for apples, and a rather tame spook-house.  They also had a ‘fortune teller.’  My older cousins had to explain to me what that was.  I still remember that the little slip of paper I was given by the spooky looking lady sitting behind the crystal ball said… that I would one day be a LAWYER.  I had to be told what that meant also!

   No, I never became a lawyer.  But I suppose that I have had lawyer-like tendencies most all of my life.  My high school yearbook stated something about my propensity to ‘argue.’

   That said, civil law is a stickler for truth!  And truth means saying what you mean and not simply what you say.  In other words… correct word usage is of paramount importance to me.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  

   This brings us to the subject of my old devotional.

   The first chapter of the book of John tells of the meeting of Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist) when both were still pregnant.  In their conversation, Mary is quoted as saying, 

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

                                                       Luke 1:46

   Interesting!  But doesn’t MAGNIFY mean to make something larger?  So how is it possible to make the Lord larger?  Was Mary speaking about the baby Jesus growing in her womb?

   Definitely not!

   It’s generally assumed that magnify here means praise.  But could it mean much more?

   Here is where the difference between what Mary actually said, and what it appears that she said, is most important.  What did Mary actually say… what did she say spiritually, correctly, even ‘court-house’ legally?

    Notice that Mary didn’t say, “I magnify the Lord.”  She spoke of her soul, her spirit, her inner and eternal self. 

   Scripture talks about images.  It tells us that…

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

   Now, let’s define what an image is.  An image is not the real, actual item, nor even a physical duplicate of that thing.  It is only a likeness, a representation, similar to a photo.

   Mary spoke of ‘magnifying’ the Lord, and magnifying means to increase or make larger.  But this is not a boast of making God larger… but of making His image (the ‘reflection’ of God that the world sees in us) appear to be larger that the images of Him they have previously seen in others!  Think of it this way… when we look at an ant under a magnifying glass, the ant appears much larger.  The aunt in not larger, but the image of the ant is!

   Our world today is beset with Godliness on every side.  God has chosen us to be the visible image of Himself, the invisible God, in the world.  We do this by allowing our lives to be a reflection of His love and mercy.  The less of our nature that shows… and the more of God’s nature that shines within us… the more of God the world will see, and will learn of Him, and will be drawn unto Him.  

All of us, like Mary, should always strive to magnify the Lord… now more than ever!  As it says in Colossians 1:27, Christ in you, the hope of glory!

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A WILD AND CRAZY GUY

Glacier Washington

Perhaps you remember when Steve Martin was on Saturday Night Live and did a skit featuring a ‘wild and crazy guy.’  Now I’ve never really been known as one of those, but once while in high school, I did come close… very close.

It was the summer of 1957, between the 10th and 11th grades at Central High..  Our family took a week long and many miles long motor trip from our home in Jackson, Mississippi diagonally north/westward across the nation to the sleepily little town of Glacier, Washington… perhaps 20 miles east of the East coast and 5 to 7 miles south of the Canadian border.  This little town was the last settlement at the foot of Mount Baker, along the end of a dead-end highway 542.

My mother’s uncle lived in Glacier, and the family had not seen him in many years.  Uncle Ed worked in the logging industry, operating a crane which loaded cut logs onto trucks which transported them down the mountain.

In the winter, Glacier was a bustling ski mecca.  But we were there in summer.  Although there was snow on the mountain (my sister and I tobogganed down the slopes) it was not the tourist ski season while we were there.  According to our map, the census said that Glacier had a resident population of only 25.  We were there 3 days and I only laid eyes on 7… including my own family!

Uncle Ed invited two of his closest friends over to meet us.  These two middle-aged ‘mountain men’ owned and operated a gold mine on Mount Baker!  I was enraptured by the tales they told on one-another… and about Uncle Ed.

The day before we left, the two miners asked if I’d like to come back the next summer, and work in the mine with them.  Uncle Ed said he’d enjoy the company if I wanted to return.  Would I?  YES!!!

In my tender 16 year old brain, this was the chance of a life-time!  I’d never been so crazy-adventurous.  This was my unbelievable chance to try my hand at becoming a wild and crazy guy!  My mind went wild.  I decided that I’d (try to) grow a beard… and grow my hair out… and bleach it blonde!  When school started the in fall of my return from Mount Baker, no one would recognize me… the wild and crazy guy!  

Did I do it?  No.  So what went wrong? 

Hormones!

When school started in the fall of ’57, my dreams of a beard and bleached hair deep inside a gold mine were shattered by a tiny imp with a bow and arrow… brought on by a cute, seductive blonde in eleventh grade American History class. My heart began to skip beats, and my hormones went on over-time.  Basically, I traded my plans for blonde hair for the blonde across the room.  

So much for my dreams of becoming a wild and crazy guy!

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CONSIDERING TIME

I’ve considered time since I was a small child.  One of my first time-related memories is of an incident which happened when I was no more than five or six.  I’d been playing next door, in my grandparents yard.  With my bare hands, I pulled a prickly weed from the ground.  It must have been a thistle, but I didn’t think it was.  Whatever this demon-plant was, my small hand was now filled with painful and tiny, itchy barbs.  It hurt.  My first inclination was to cry.

This memory is as clear and life-altering as if it were only yesterday.  I looked down at my hand, and I remember thinking:  A few moments ago, all was well.  In a day, maybe two, all will be well once again.  Only now, in the moment as I stood there looking at my hand, it is painful.  And my young mind reasoned that… just as the philosopher said, “This too will pass.”  This was a giant stepping stone for me and for my future, setting the path for my outlook on life.  

Perhaps that’s why I hold so dear the wonderful memories from my past.  I’ve learned to hold close and remember and celebrate the little joys and victories of yesteryear.  I’m determined to honor those good memories with happiness and thankfulness.  And I’ve chosen to keep those distasteful and painful remembrances at arm’s length.

I most definitely consider this time related blessing a ‘God-thing!’  

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