AN ANGEL IN THE CLOSET

Sk. In Closet copy© 2018 Bill Murphy

We often hear of skeletons in the closet, of deep dark sins and secrets hidden away, musty and dusty and, we hope, dormant and forgotten.  But what of angels in the closet?

My family has one of each – and both are from the same closet!

I come from two large families, with a total of 13 uncles and aunts plus all their wives and husbands. This large collection of unique individuals has gifted me with a wealth of stories and life experiences.  One of my favorite story-treasures involves my mother’s older sister, Lillie Fairchild Padget, and her husband Fred Padget.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Lillie (who everyone in the family called Sister) lived in Bogalusa, Louisiana.  Uncle Fred died of a sudden heart attack in 1947, and Sister moved next door to us on Evergreen Street.  Now Uncle Fred had an evil skeleton in his closet, which Sister packed up and brought to Jackson when she moved from Bogalusa.  She kept it not in a closet, but in a large trunk.

Not long after settling into her new home in Mississippi, she joined Griffith Memorial Baptist Church on Silas Brown Street, near our home.  And she began to sew.  She made for herself a beautiful, white Easter dress.

She was oh so proud of that dress.  It was of the finest silk, and rivaled the elegance of any wedding dress!  That top quality garment hardy cost her pennies to make!  The smooth, lily white material she already had.  It was brought from Bogalusa in the trunk.

You see, Uncle Fred had been an officer in the Bogalusa chapter of the KKK.  Sister made that beautiful dress, a dress to wear to church to worship and honor her Lord and Savior on the day set aside to celebrate that marvelous day He arose from the dead!

Sacrilegious? NO!

Read your Bible.  Over and over again we read where God used the weak to defeat the strong, the fearful to instruct us in bravery, and the ugly as a radiant example of beauty. This former skeleton in a closet, a dark symbol of sin and shame, my dear Aunt Lillie transformed into an angelic statement of love and devotion to our Lord and Savior.  I know that He looked down on that silk’s new form, and smiled.

 

 

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GUILTY AS CHARGED

moses-573811_640© 2018 Bill Murphy

The past few months, an issues of spiritual importance has weighed heavily on my heart.  I’ve found myself asking hard questions, and pointing fingers.

Suddenly, I find myself guilty of my own ‘sin.’

This week, our church is having a form of vacation bible school – but this is a one day affair.  Judging by the amount of effort being put into it, one would think it was a full week (or 2 weeks) event!  The props and decor, which include a life-size, hand painted, cut-out figure of Goliath – are nothing short of fabulous.

My contribution was Jonah’s whale, with a cut-out in the side revealing the (living) character dressed as Jonah – sitting inside.

There was technical difficulty, a mix-up in communications, and I received the construction parameters late, which only left a limited time for construction.  Whew… I made it!

Then, late the night before we were to leave the following afternoon for a 6.5 hour trip to Mississippi, I received a call.  The tablets of stone, the 10 commandments, were too small! Could I make new ones?  I wanted to say no… but I said yes.

My dilemma was… I had to ‘design’ these props, gather and or purchase the supplies, and then construct them – all in the time remaining to arrive in Mississippi at least by midnight the very next night.

I actually did it!  I got to work the following morning – but I took a short-cut.  I made things more comfortable for myself.

You see… the 10 commandments are a somewhat lengthy read.  That would have required quite a bit of lettering on my part.  My reasoning was that I didn’t have the time – and that this is for a CHILDREN’S program anyway.  I opted out and located kiddie-friendly versions of the 10 commandments.  Instead of: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s… mine just said, “Don’t want other’s stuff.”  We got to our Mississippi destination by 10:30.

But while on our way, it came to me… guilt.  I was guilty of the same thing which I’d been seeing in others!

For months now I’ve come to realize that we’ve come to make corporate worship far too ‘comfortable.’  And this comfort has pushed aside and thoroughly muddied our concepts of respect and reverence for what we once called… The House of God.

Folks my age remember what was called ‘Sunday clothes.’  Today, in order to welcome the weak, the poor, the huddled masses – dressing for church is a thing of the past. What’s good for Monday thru Friday – and even Saturday – is good enough for God!

And dress is only the tip of the iceberg!

But how can I call the kettle black?  Didn’t I cut a big corner?  Didn’t I save a few minutes (or hours) to make it convenient for myself?  Didn’t I put personal comfort and desires above the Holy Laws of God?  Yes, I did.  I’m guilty as charged!

P.S. I my defense, I still refuse to wear a hat inside and during a church service.  There are usually several (male) hatted heads in my laid-back place of worship.

 

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HEY… STOP! THAT’S MINE!

32861035_2109220632690321_9168652190703681536_n© 2018 Bill Murphy

We have varying opinions as to ‘entitlement.’ We all believe that certain things are ours by right… what ever our perception of ‘right’ might be.

However, the final authority on the matter of entitlement is the final authority on all matters concerning things human… God’s Word.

It says:

It is in the plan that all men die once. After that, they will stand before God and be judged.

Hebrews 9:26-28 – New Life Version (NLV)

That scripture tells me that we are all entitled to death… and judgement.

Just days ago, a central portion of my little life came crashing down, or should I say more correctly… began drying up!

For days on end, half a dozen counties in our immediate area were without WATER! The reason for this was that the single fresh water SUPPLY line ruptured at the area’s water treatment facility! This forced the treatment plant to be shut down until this large pipe could be repaired/replaced. Several counties were left with only the water remaining in their local storage tanks… which rapidly began dwindling. Because firefighters NEED water to fight fires, local water departments were forced to CUT OFF water supply to homes and businesses… in order to hold an emergency supply on hand.

Needless to say, there was a sudden run on bottled water!

Water is such a common thing. We take it for granted. Turn the faucet… and there it is… flowing fresh and clear. Yet oh so many in this world do not have the ‘luxury’ of a water faucet in their home… nor even a single one in their community! Many must walk miles each day, filling containers with water which is NOT fresh and clear, just to supply their needs. I had to drive all the way (maybe 5 miles) into Carbondale for water.

I gained a whole new appreciation for fresh water that week… and for faucets which freely dispense that sweet nectar of life.

I also realized that deep inside I was beginning to feel somewhat ‘wronged,’ and put-out… because I was being denied that which I was ‘entitled to’ as a tax paying citizen.

Thankfully, God helped me sort out my feelings… to separate the facts from the folly. My belief is that just because I was born in America to American parents… and not in some third-world country to impoverished parents… does not in any way give me a ‘right’ to expectations I have created for myself… not even the simple, everyday things like fresh water.

Yes, I worked. I saved. I prepared for the future. Those things I earned in payment for my labors. Basically, what I’m saying is, “I bought water!”

But where do ‘earnings’ end and ‘entitlement’ begin? And… is there not a difference between the two?

I believer there is.

I remember when just a child in grade school, not long after learning to read… I saw a one-picture political-style cartoon in a newspaper that, for the life of me, I could not understand at the time. I made no sense to me. It showed to two obviously well-to-do gentlemen on a city street, looking down on a poor beggar in the gutter. One rich man was saying to the other, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

That week of no water, that cartoon came back to my memory, the meaning crystal clear.

 

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MY PROUDEST MOMENT

trophy-3037778_640© 2018 Bill Murphy 

 

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.   Mark 7:21-23 (KJV)

 

Pride can be a spin-off from personal status or accomplishment. God puts pride in the same group as other deadly sins.

To be honest, I truthfully have neither done – nor been – anything which would cause me to be overcome with pride. I’ve never deserved the keys to the city, a legislative proclamation, or a brass plaque.

Can stating a lack of pride be a prideful boast?

I’ve won a few model airplane building contest, and I lettered in football in the 9th grade. Oh, and I had my photo taken with Philip Morris’ Little Johnny, Brenda Lee and Vanna White. (Not all at the same time.)

My childhood hero was Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier.  Years ago, before the National Air and Space Museum was built, and when my hero’s aircraft, the Bell X-1 was housed at ground level in an outbuilding of the Smithsonian – I ran my hot little hands down the side of that treasured piece of history.  My heart DID swell with childish pride that happy day!

But I don’t think that patting an airplane is what “my proudest moment” was supposed to be about.

If my memory serves me well, the year was 1983, and the month was December.  It was a typical Sunday morning, and we were at church.  It was a large church, easily having 500 or more in attendance at every service.  Our 4 daughters ranged in age from 12 to 17.

As church was over, and we were gathering up the kids to go home, our youngest daughter gleefully ran up to us, her face beaming with joy.  “Guess what?” she exclaimed.  “Today in Sunday School, we studied about Mary.  At the end of class we took a vote on who, in our Sunday School class, God would probably choose to be the mother of Baby Jesus if He were to be born today.  And they elected ME!”

To Molly, that was a singularly high honor.  She was as giddy as if she’d won the lottery. But to her father, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

My proudest moment was not something I did – but a vote of confidence received by my youngest child.

Does that count – while maintaining at least some degree of innocence?

 

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WHO ARE YOU?

© 2018 Bill MurphyMan Question
The first blank on any application is usually for your name. But name alone is never enough. After name comes mailing address, city, state, zip, e-mail address, etc., etc. But still, this truly doesn’t tell anyone who you actually are.

Perhaps to better understand who you are, we should first ask the question of what you are, beginning at the your beginnings.

No doubt, you were given your name at birth. But birth was not the beginning of what was to become you. Contrary to what some find difficult to accept, you began at the time of conception – when a single tiny cell from your biological mother joined with a single cell from your biological father. Nothing else was added to this initial union of two single cells to make you anything other than who and what you are today.

Around 9 months after your conception, you were born into this world. Welcome.

There are very few organisms which are more fragile, helpless, and utterly dependent than the human infant. Left unattended in the finest luxury hotel that money can afford, and surrounded by wealth and extravagant plenty – if none was there to care for it’s needs, the infant would soon die. This is what you are – a needy creature!

Our neediness continues. But we don’t want to think of ourselves as needy.  Yet we are.

9 months in the safety of a mother’s womb is only the beginning of our neediness. We are dependent upon others for educating us on how to survive and how to thrive. We must be taught to talk, encouraged to walk, and this is only the beginning of civilized social knowledge and indoctrination.

Usually around the age of 12 to 15, the semi-adult human begins to believe they know everything necessary to succeed in the adult world. They are confident they have all the answers. Instead, they’ve not yet begun to face all the questions they’ll confront in life.

This is a particularly difficult time in a youngsters life, especially in our modern, if-it-feels-good-do-it, permissive society. During the late teens and early twenties, countless painful mistakes are usually made, some which leave deep and ugly scars. Today, teen suicide and murder rates are at an all time high.

Sometime around the mid 30s or early 40s, a somewhat foggy understanding of just who they might be, finally dawns upon the human creature. We call this maturity.

It sounds as though I’m not painting a pretty picture of humanity, huh?

Sadly, this is often the case of who we are, or rather, who become! You see, this is not at all who we actually are, or who we should be.

There are two schools of thought as to who (and what) we are. The first generally accepted thought is that we are all one big lucky accident. According to this belief, at some far point in pre-human history, our ancestors were nothing more than a slimy mass of inorganic chemicals sloshing around on the ocean floor. And then by some stroke of accidental luck, a certain ‘critical mass‘ was achieved, and life happened. It was they say, one grand and monumental fluke. Then over the eons, this living, slimy mass of goo re-created itself by morphing (in stages) into something better – we added fins, backbones, legs, lungs, etc. A few eons later we found ourselves growing wheat and corn and having babies.

There was never a PLAN for this to happen. It was all one big happenstance… which has never stopped happening. So here we are today. We’re still having babies right and left, and buying and selling – or stealing – one another’s wheat and corn.

In the grand scheme of things, only today really matters. After all, everything is only an accident anyway. Tomorrow, POOF, everything might be gone anyway.

With no central plan, mankind faced a lot of unhappy chaos. So, to keep things well oiled and running as smoothly as can be in this accidental world of turmoil and self promotion, mankind saw a need for order and purpose. The slime that became mankind, felt a need for reason. So he created a false purpose, and imaginary reason, a pseudo understand of what and why. This calmed his spirit, and soothed his troubled mind. Now all oiled up and covered by reason, he suddenly felt comfort in this artificial security blanket that humanists call ‘religion.’ Intellectuals tell us that man created God.

So, what’s my point?

The point is, what’s the point in life? If it’s all one big temporary fluke anyway – what’s the point in that? According to ‘intellectual’ thought, you and I my friend, are nothing more than super-slime, living a dead-end life, a fleeting life with no rhyme or reason or purpose, and someday – poof – it will all be over. The end. Nada. Period. Then you and I will return to the chemical state where this life all began in the very beginning. What comes around goes around, nothing has really changed.

That’s a comforting thought, huh? NOT!

Call me a fool if you wish, that’s your prerogative. But… I choose to believe there is a reason and a purpose behind life, a reason for yesterday, today, and tomorrow – a rhyme, reason and a purpose – and a plan. I also believe that this plan is far larger than you and I can imagine. And furthermore, because of this simple fact that there is a plan in place, there must be, and there is – also a planner.

I cannot accept as truth that I am simply an accident. I am not a fluke. That’s like saying that if you put enough monkeys in enough room with enough pencils and paper – in enough years, one of them with write like William Shakesphere. No! I’m not an accident.

This is not a grandiose and prideful statement, for I believe the same about you!

I believe that all things are a grand CREATION, and that they were created by a supreme CREATOR. I choose to believe that I am some small part of all of this, and that He knows who I am! Some choose to call this creator God, or a ‘deity.’ I call Him FATHER.

The thing is, life is not some monumental accident, and neither am I. I have a reason for being. I have purpose. My Father has a plan, and I have a small part of His much bigger plan.

That’s who I am!

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PERCEPTION and OPINION

machine-1776925_1280© 2018 Bill Murphy

Newton’s third law of physics states that: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The output reaction force can be readily calculated by knowing the force of the input action as stated in the measurements of mass (weight), speed, and the direction of the force.

It would appear that Newton’s law can also apply to HUMAN interaction. Some call this karma. However, the input and output forces in human interaction are not as easily calculated, owing to the vast amount of variables which always occur with human interaction. Perhaps the greatest of these variables is PERCEPTION.

The word ‘perception’ has its root in the word ‘perceive’ which usually refers to perceptions in vision. However, one can also experience perception in all of the human senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing as well as sight. Perception is basically defined as : a mental image of something, or your personal concept of something.

The origins of opinions lie in perception.

Perceptions are not necessarily true and factual. Perceptions are based upon past experience and or beliefs and personal observations. One’s concept of what is true reality, by nature of its origin, is susceptible to change and modification.

A personal example: The commonly accepted opinion is that paper mills stink. I, on the other hand, based upon pleasant and happy memories from my childhood, of visits with my favorite aunt who lived in a paper mill town – love the ‘pleasant’ aroma of a paper mill. My perception has become my opinion.

Perceptions vary widely from person to person and from item to item. It’s much like attempting to define what is ‘up’ and what is ‘down’ or what is ‘hot’ and what is ‘cold.’ Because these are relational items, they are perceived differently from one person to the next. It is therefore impossible to judge which perception (which opinion) is more or less ‘correct’ than the next. We tend to accept the ‘average’ or ‘norm” of an opinion as being as being ‘correct.’

But truthfully, in the arena of perception and opinion, few things are absolutely ‘correct.’ What is too loud for me can easily not be loud enough for others. What may be too salty for you, may not be salty enough for me. And abandoned soft drink soon becomes ‘hot‘ whereas the forgotten cup of coffee beside it has become ‘cold.’ Perception is important!

This does not mean that I am wrong (in my perception/concept/opinion) and you are right. No! Neither does it mean that I am right (in my perception/concept/opinion) and you are wrong. It does mean, that these divergent perceptions are just that – opinions.

It has been said that we all have a right to our opinions, and that may be true. But rights, MUST have certain restrictive limits, otherwise, my ‘right’ could trample over yours, and yours could trample mine. A degree of give and take is required to maintain peace, harmony, and goodwill.

Yes, we all have rights. But all rights come with responsible. And here lies the roots of discord, resentment, and misunderstanding. Many find it difficult to recognize the fact that others, with perceptions other than their own, have a right to those personal perceptions. And some, who believe their own perceptions to be superior to those of others, discount the perceptions and concepts of others – based purely upon their personal opinions.

This is the result of personal opinions crossing the line from observations, concepts and opinions – and becoming judgements. And we know what God says about judgement.

 

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WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW

Tab Bottle© 2018 Bill Murphy 

What the world needs now is a healthy dose of individual responsible. Hey, a RESPONSIBILITY PILL would be great!

The truth is, each of us already have that responsibility! If you’re breathing, you HAVE responsibilities. The problem is that far too many folks either shirk their responsibilities through selfish denial, or are completely blind to the fact that their responsibilities are ever present, following them like a shadow which they choose to ignore.

We all have responsibilities, and we’re responsible for what we do about them. That’s life. In 1624 English poet John Donne wrote: No man is an island. That’s the honest truth in a nutshell! It was as true then, as it is today.

I suppose that what we need is a required responsibility wake-up pill.

Newton’s third law of physics states that: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It would appear that Newton’s law also applies to HUMAN interaction, more specifically, cause and effect interactions. Some call this karma. People who fail to recognize and accept their responsibilities are seemingly blind to the basic life principle of cause and effect.

CAUSE results in EFFECT.

EFFECT results in…

AFFECTS – Things which AFFECT our lives. These effect induced affects in turn often result in a whole new set of CAUSES. It can become an endless cycle, but the reasoning is not complicated. Let me explain from a life experience of my own.

I was around 20 at the time, living paycheck to paycheck, and it was less than 2 weeks before Christmas. Driving at night, on a 2 lane country road, I took a foolish chance and passed a slow vehicle on a hill. On the downhill side, sat a county trooper, who promptly pulled me over and issued a ticket. This ticket cost me money I didn’t have to spare.

The CAUSE: I Foolishly and irresponsibly, passed on a hill. (Against the law).

The EFFECT: Receiving a traffic citation, which I was responsible for paying.

The AFFECT on my life: I now had far LESS money to fund my Christmas plans and responsibilities. Oh how I wish I had taken a responsibility wake-up pill earlier that day!

I look around me, at my own life, and the painful memories of unrecognized or un-acted upon responsibilities. Oh how I’d like a do-over of those lost opportunities. And I see my own children, grand children, and great-grand kids, making similar mistakes. I want to scream out, STOP, LOOK… and RECOGNIZE what lies ahead. NOW is the time to do something responsible about it!

Yes, what the world needs now is a responsibility wake-up pill! That reminds me: I think its time to get my prescription refilled.

 

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