Tiddleywinks!

© 2019 Bill Murphy

I’ve always been told that profanity’s purpose is to express emphasis.  The example is: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a tiddleywink,” did not place the desired emphasis on Rhett Butler’s parting line to Scarlett O’Hara.  Therefore, tiddlywink was replaced.

My father taught by example more than lecture.  However, I do remember the day when he discussed with me the topic of profanity.  Something happened, and I blurted out the simple, lily-white expletive “DRAT!”

Dad had a lot to say about “drat.”  He explained to me the concept that words are but representations of what we are attempting to portray.  He went on to explain that although ‘drat’ was a perfectly acceptable Sunday School word, I was using it as a stand-in to portray some stronger word… such as the four-letter street word used as for human/animal excrement.

Then Dad went on to explain that it was not the word itself that was in question.  It was the original thought or meaning behind the word.  Drat was only a stand-in for what I wanted to use, yet feared to use.

How true.

I know, this was a 1940s lecture, spoken by a father to a son living way back in another time and age!  Today we are… what do they say… enlightened.  Sorry,  I question that!

I suppose that the real question here is:  Is there a line somewhere, in some place, at some point in time, where certain words are acceptable here and unacceptable there?

And if there is, WHO is the authority who has the ultimate right to draw this line in the sand?

Yes I know, everyone has a right to their opinion.  That gives me a right to my opinion also.  And my opinion is that: opinions are just… opinions. 

I know also, that there are socially acceptable rights and wrongs… times and places, and around certain people, where the use of profanity might truly matter.  This speech awareness is called common curtesy, being respectful and considerate of others.  Basically it means not allowing your speech to be offensive to others.  The old fashioned word was… conducting yourself in a mannerly way.  Of course, not everyone gives a tiddleywink what other people think.  But what I’m asking is: does it matter to the ONE who it should matter to most of all?  Is profanity offensive to The Almighty?  Would you freely use profanity in His presence?

I suppose that’s a personal question, which requires a personal answer.  

I also suppose that we’ll just have to brace ourselves for what becomes acceptable in American society in the future.

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Lists of Infamy

     

© 2019 Bill Murphy

If Carol and I ever part company, or jugular veins, it’ll not be over money, sex, or family.  Nope!  It will no doubt be over the infamous shopping list, the fly in our happy ointment.  I guess you could say that we can’t see the list for the list.

     I’ve learned, through past misadventure, that ‘peanut butter’ means JIFF.  Pity the poor soul who brings home anything less.  I’ve attempted to explain to my dear wife that there are no massive manufacturing and packing facilities under the KROGER name, where they bottle, can, grow, bake, and build everything from mothballs to baby food.  None.  Nada.  But when we travel, she keeps a keen eye open to find one of these magical, all-purpose facilities.  I’d like to seen one too.  It must be massive!

     In my defense, I’m not psychic – psychotic maybe – but I can’t read minds, nor can I, obviously, read lists, or labels.  GRAPES the list says.  Yes, I know the difference between grapes and bananas.  No problem there.  But there are more varieties of grapes in the produce department than commercials on TV.  And Kroger purposefully confuses the issue.  The ‘white’ ones sure look green to me.  The ‘black’ ones look blue.  The ‘red’ ones are definitely purple!  I have a college DEGREE in art, and I know my colors – just sadly, not my grapes.

     I seldom get everything on the list correctly.  She lists one way.  I list the other. My vain attempts to ‘help out and do my part’ quickly goes to Hellman’s in a hand basket.  I can’t understand why we have these demon-list-problems we have.  The woman who takes hours to find simple sneakers at the shoe store, can’t understand why I’m in the grocery store 45 minutes and still can’t locate the correct yogurt.  (Kroger has more yogurts than grapes!)

     Don’t get me started on CEREAL.

     Alas… it’s a good thing we’ve ‘matured’ beyond the ‘feminine products’ stage of our lives.  That’s one good thing about growing old(er).

     Have you seen my list?  I’ve lost the list.  Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… 

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IN THE SHOP… AGAIN

© 2019  Bill Murphy

     A few months ago, I turned 78 and Carol turned 73.  If we were driving automobiles this age, they’d surely be in a shop a lot!  Carol and I both have been ‘in the shop’ numerous times lately.

     4 years ago, Carol discovered a ‘bump’ on her neck.  She had it examined by a local clinic.  “Oh, that’s cancer,” they said, “We recently had a patient die of the same thing.”  NOT exactly encouraging words!  So a dear friend put her in touch with a, shall we say, more ‘knowledgable’ doctor.  It was simply an easily treated thyroid issue.  Problem solved – and another problem discovered!

     God was in control from the start.  

     During her examinations by this new doctor, a very, very tiny ‘spot’ was discovered on her left lung.  Her new doctor made note of this, and began watching it closely.

     Fast forward to earlier this year.  The tiny spot had slowly begun to grow.  It was still very, very small – but yet slowing enlarging.  “It’s time now to take action,” her doctor said.

     Carol was put in touch with an oncologist in St. Louis.  He was shocked that anyone had discovered this tiny spot so early.  “If…” he began, ‘if this is malignant, we never have patients present themselves at such an early stage!”

     That very day she was seen by a respiratory surgeon.  He too was dumbfounded by her early diagnosis.  A few days later, Carol was in surgery.  A biopsy was done.  It was malignant.  The spot along with 1/4 of that lung was removed.  They got it all!  No radiation treatments necessary.  No chemo.  Praise God!

     My turn.

     A few weeks ago I had my annual ‘wellness checkup’ by my doctor.  I passed with flying colors, well, for a man my age.  Then the doctor asked if I had any ‘issues’ or changes in my well being.  I mentioned some very slight ‘discomfort’ in my lower abdomen.  There was no pain, no real soreness, just a nagging ‘something’s not right’ feeling.  He set me up for a CAT scan.  

      The scan revealed that I had several ‘cysts’ on my kidneys. But it was unclear as to how serious they were.  I had an ultra sound done for a better look-see.  But that didn’t show anything more.  Next, I had an MRI.  

     Within 3 hours, the doctor called me in for a consultation.  Oops!  In addition to the cysts, I had a suspicious dark ‘solid’ spot on my left kidney.  My local doctor explained that there are no qualified urologist in our immediate area, and suggested that we go to St. Louis to see a specialists.  Now it was my turn to be in the shop!

     Tuesday of this week Carol and I traveled to St. Louis, were I saw a specialists.  After studying my previous test results done here, and examining me there… he had very encouraging news, and a suggest path to take with this issue.

     Let me say that both Carol and I really like this doctor.  His ‘bed side manner’ is extremely comforting.  He speaks with knowledge.  And he reeks with and experience.  We trust him.

     He explained that the ‘cysts’ issue is a non-issue.  This is common, and my cysts are not ‘aggressive’ in nature.  As of the dark ‘spot,’ it also may, or may not be, a big issue.  He explained that a spot of the current size that I have does not scream ‘get me outta here – now!’  He told us that age matters – it maters in the fact that these things are very slow growing in patients in my age bracket.  Basically he was saying that I could easily out-live this problem!  

     The bottom line is… we will watch this thing inside me.  In 3 months, I’ll have another scan, and we’ll see how it is doing.

     On the plus side, I do have TWO kidneys… and the other is A-Ok.  A V-6 will still run on 5 cylinders – maybe a little slower and less smoothly – but it will get you to the grocery store and back.

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Another Word for Freedom

© 2017  Bill Murphy

Remember the words, Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to give from Janis Joplin’s big hit, ‘Me And Bobby McGee?’ 

The song was written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster.  Kristofferson says that he got the inspiration for the ‘freedom’ line from the 1954 Italian movie La Strada, written and directed by Federico Fellini.  The storyline of that dark movie illustrates that freedom can bring both joy and misery. 

The message of ‘Me and Bobby McGee,’ is that freedom is a two-edged sword.  It truth, FREEDOM is much more than that.

Today’s America is a home divided, a family in dispute and heading toward divorce.  The dividing lines are drawn, each daring the other to cross.  We know that a house divided cannot stand, yet we still want the other side out of ‘our’ house.   

The fact is, although our great nation was founded on ethical, moral, and Christian principles, it was built through many unethical, immoral, and un-Christian actions.  And here lies the seed of discontent.  

The cry of the Left today is for socialism, whereas the cry of the Right is for free-enterprise.  Although history well proves that socialism is a dead end street, truth also teaches us that free-enterprise, like freedom itself, is also a two-edged sword.

When I turned to the word FREEDOM, I discovered some most interesting things… things which closely correlate to the words of Me and Bobby McGee.

When you consider the true meaning of the word FREEDOM, it’s not actually the glorious rallying cry of which we hardily sing.  Freedom is not 100% positive.  Freedom is fraught with negativism and danger!  You see, by its very definition, freedom has no limits.

True freedom is not limiting.  True freedom is the bird set free from the constraints of the cage, free to soar where ever it pleases.  The free-bird is free of it’s cage, where it has found shelter, food, and safety.  Now it’s truly free, to find its own food (if it can), to find its own shelter (if it can), and free of safety also – free to now be caught and eaten by creatures who see him only as food.

FREEDOM means that there are no constraints.  None.  Nada.  Zip. 

Another 1969 hit, People Got To Be Free by The Rascals tells another totally false version of freedom:

All the world over, so easy to see

People everywhere just wanna be free

Listen, please listen, that’s the way it should be

There’s peace in the valley, people got to be free 

That’s what they sing in the streets today.  They foolishly sing of freedom without understanding what that they’re sing about!

When you’re free,  I’m free also.  We’re ALL free.  We’re all free of all constraints. No one will be telling us what to do.  That’s true freedom.  No rules, no laws, no constraints!  We’re freeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

And that my friend, is the definition of ANARCHY.

We see anarchy on the news all the time now… when people throw off the constraints of reason and law, and embrace the ‘freedom’ to do whatever, to whom ever, when ever, and how ever it pleases.  Never mind that you become a victim in the process. 

The truth is, we don’t really want (or shouldn’t want) freedom.  What we want is LIBERTY

Liberty is ‘freedom’ as that ‘freedom’ is defined by and limited by certain previously and mutually AGREED UPON constraints.  

These ‘constraints’ are simply rules, regulations, and duly agreed upon laws designed not to LIMIT our freedom… but to PROTECT US from unlimited (destructive) freedom.

Believe me, you want the LIBERTY to possess and use an American Express card… not the FREEDOM (Where other’s are free withoutconstraint to steal and use your monies as they so choose.) 

We want OUR freedom, but we don’t want OTHERS to have that same freedom that WE enjoy –  especially if their freedom will will harm US! 

There’d be very little peace in the valley with everyone free. 

Listen, please listen, that’s (not) the way it should be.

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Scars of Beauty

© 2020 Bill Murphy

This past weekend Carol and I got a little taste of Heaven. We attend the JCM-NATION 2019 REUNION in Jackson Mississippi – fellowshipping with old friends from both Jackson College of Ministries, and the First Pentecostal Church. Friday night’s service was held at Black’s Chapel on Robinson Road, the former home of First Pentecostal Church – where praises to God – and nostalgia reigned supreme!


The good folks of Black’s Chapel are to be heartily commended for going far beyond the extra mile to make the JCM event in their facility a resounding success. Needless to say, everyone was putting their best foot forward.  


But something somewhat ‘out of place’ to some eyes, caught my eye. Right down front, within a few feet of the pulpit, one of the cushions of the padded prayer altar had a few RIPS! Now I know that in our home, Mrs. Murphy would never allow nearly a thousand guests to see torn cushions! What would the guests think?


Oh yes, guests do often have critical eyes, and judgmental opinions. And that night, we, the JCM/FPC crowd were the guests. But, we were not the MAIN guest. Guest Numero Uno was The Lord Himself! 


As host, we have the responsibility of catering to and pleasing the guest. When those guest are of great influence and prestige, we tend to go the extra mile.

  
And then I thought – when the guest are all gone, and it’s just me and nobody, and I’m allowed to get a little selfish with my pleasures – what makes ME happy?


We all have that favorite coffee cup, you know, the one with the chip, that nobody wants. Who wants a chipped cup anyway? And isn’t there a well worn, far past ‘throwing them out time’ pair of sneakers in the closet that are simply way too comfortable to consign to the round file? Isn’t there also a T-shirt somewhere, far back in the drawer, with too many paint stains and holes to even wear to Wall-Mart. You still keep it, but only now for mowing the lawn. You continue to hang onto that thread-bare garment ‘for the sweet memories’ it holds! Don’t these worn, mangled, torn and stained items still bring a smile to your heart and comfort to your spirit? They’re no longer worthy of ‘show’ to our guest. They’re now reserved for YOU, the one that loves and cherishes them most, in spite of all their imperfections and blemishes. Rejected by the world, they still have a place in your heart.


An altar pad with no imperfections could be a new altar pad – or – one that is old – yet never used. Oops!


That night, that torn altar pad spoke to me of use! No doubt, there may have been a human eye or two that saw these abrasions as blemishes on the backdrop of a grand presentation. But God didn’t. I know that He saw them as a visual testimony that they have been put to good use – the use for which they were intended. These scars were loud shouts of praise – of honor and glory to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – witnesses that loving saints had knelt in worship and prayer. They are badges of a commitment to prayer – and they are a beauty to behold!

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I Miss Reverence

Call me ‘old fashioned, but in today’s church, I miss good old fashioned REVERENCE.  I’ll clarify that by saying, it can be missing from many churches.

I worshipped my first 20 years of life in Grace Methodist Church of Jackson MS.  Sadly, like calm and respectful reverence, Grace Church is no more.  Where I learned to grow close to God is now but an empty lot.  I feel that emptiness today.

But that’s me. 

I make no apology for the following ‘old fashioned’ definitions. They’re necessary for you to understand what I’m attempting to say -and the true meaning and understanding of those words I will use. 

REVERENCE is defined as: honor or respect  felt or shown; profound adoring and awed respect.  Reverence implies that this profound respect is also mingled with love and devotionThat’s heavy – isn’t it?

Synonyms of reverence are: respect, honor, homage, and deference. 

RESPECT means: expressions of high or special regard.

Yes I know – you’ll say that folks express respect differently today.  Differently does not necessarily mean better.  Consider the fact that public school classroom demeanor is different today. 

Generally, most weddings even today are basically respectful and reverent in nature, much as were Sunday church services way back when.  And, most brides today wear white, want order and dignity in their marriage ceremony, and prefer to be the center of attention.  This was how it was in the 50s each Sunday when we honored the ‘Biblical Bride-Groom,’ our Lord Jesus Christ.  Then we better understood a holy respect of and for our surroundings.

But, you say, there are laid-back weddings and laid-back church services today.  Yes there are.  

So I ask – why can we have a reverent marriage ceremony on Saturday afternoon, and in the same church sanctuary it’s a (Christian) rock concert Sunday morning? 

HONOR means respect and esteem shown to another. It can apply to the recognition of one’s right to great respect or to any expression of such recognition.

DEFERENCE implies a yielding or submitting to another’s judgment or preference out of respect or reverence.

HOMAGE adds the implication of accompanying praise.

I mentioned a (Christian) rock concert above. 

At some point in time, ‘praise’ became firmly welded to ‘worship,’ as if the two were one and the same.  This is not true.  (Think about it.)  But that’s another study.

First of all, praise and worship should only be directed toward GOD!  To do otherwise is idolatry – if not bordering on it.  Correct?  Think about this also.

That said, although I well understand that Psalm 100:1 says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”  I do not believe that every time we direct praise and worship to Him, that it must be at full volume.   1 Kings 19 tells us that God didn’t speak to Elijah in the wind, earthquake, or fire… but in a still small voice.  

Praise and worship cannot be measure with a decibel meter.  Should it be?  The presence of God’s Spirit cannot be controlled through the sound board. 

Because my ‘quiet’ praise and worship is (and should be) directed toward God (and to him only), no other individual has the ‘right’ judge my praise.  (That right and privilege belongs to God’s alone.)

‘But you should be an example to others,’ I hear. 

 I think not.  In most instances yes.  In praise and worship, no.  Why?  If I lift my voice with ‘drummed-up’ vocalizations – when my true praise is more quiet in nature, I’ll be exhibiting false praise – and that would not be good.  Doesn’t God want our true and genuine praise?

This brings up the question –does our Lord really need cheerleaders?  If the ‘fan’ needs a cheerleader, he’s not much of a fan (of the home team – or of God!) True?

We hear a lot about ‘sanctuary cities‘ today – cities set aside and apart from the laws of the nation – cities which harbor illegal aliens. 

The house of God is also a sanctuary.  It is a place set aside for the explicit purpose of instruction, prayer, praise, and worship of God.  It may be a multi-purpose facility, where areas (or times) are set aside from everyday activities.  But during ‘church time,’ when that area is set aside for GOD – it should be a place of focus totally upon HIM.  I like to think of it as barefoot church, where He wants to meet with us on a skin-to-skin personal level, just as He did with Moses at the burning bush, when He instructed Moses to take off his shoes.

Before we have guest in our home, we wish to make them feel comfortable.  We want to present a feeling of both comfort and cleanliness.  We vacuum the carpets. This is done out of our deference to them.  Yet if it is raining or snowing outside, and they take off their shoes at our door, they’re doing so in deference to us.  These are simple acts of shared respect.

Should we not at least show similar respect and deference to the house of God?  In truth, we should show more respect and reverence for HIS ‘house!’ 

Consider funerals, where the deceased is the one being honored.  We EXPECT reverence and respect to be displayed by one and by all, regardless of age. 

Doesn’t the Lord of All, The King of Kings, The Almighty, the living GOD HIMSELF warrant the same honor, homage, deference, respect and REVERENCE as poor ole Grandma in the coffin – or as a daughter at her wedding altar?  Why can we not expect reverence in the house of worship, no matter where/what that might be?

In 1960 we had teenagers, guns and schools.  The difference between 1960 and 2018 is that teenagers in 1960 who had access to guns – went to school and left their guns at home – or on the gun rack in their truck in the parking lot.  Sadly you know what many teenagers today have done with guns at school.

The common denominators in 1960 and 2018 are: teenagers, guns, and school.  The difference is: In 1960 we had self respect, respect for others, respect for teachers, parents, laws, country… and our future.  We had a true reverence for life!

Have we really lost it altogether?  

This is why is miss reverence.  It seems to be so difficult to find today. 

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THE GREAT DOOR OPENER

© 2019  Bill Murphy

There are scores of songs we sing in church which herald the goodness of God: His favor, His blessings, His patience, His mercy, His care and concern for us.  He opens doors that have locked us out.  As Christians, we believe this to be true.  But there can be a difference between believing… and experiencing His great goodness.

Carol (my wife) has a really good doctor, and this doctor’s PA is equally as amazing.  They stay on top of things, and it would seem, even a step or two ahead of things!  4 years ago, a suspicious ‘spot’ appeared on Carol’s lung.  Since that time it has been closely monitored.

A few weeks ago, it was discovered that this ‘spot’ had grown.  And then Carol’s blood pressure began doing weird things.  So, her doctor ordered additional tests.  A CAT scan, a heart Cath, and also a PET scan were scheduled.    

The results of the Cath were great.  The others… somewhat ‘borderline’ or iffy.  ‘Iffy’ is not good where your health is concerned.  Carol’s doctor wanted a second opinion, so we were referred to an Oncologist in St. Louis.   We spent yesterday there… and this is where the God of Glory, as Carol so aptly put it, really ‘showed out.’

She had a mid-morning appointment.  The doctor’s office is located inside the huge Missouri Baptist Hospital.  We were unaware that early that very morning (a Thursday) a group of on-staff doctors met (each Thursday morning) to review ‘unique’ cases.  And… the Oncologist had presented Carol’s case to them… while we were still on the road to toward St. Louis. (Her records and scan images had been forwarded ahead.)

When the Oncologist saw Carol, one of the things he asked was how this mysterious ‘spot’ had been found in the first place… and Carol replied that it was discovered during a routine check-up.  He was amazed, saying that they hardly ever see patients in such an early stage of ‘disease,’ and because of that, it was difficult for them, as specialists, to diagnose it!   

He described the three possibilities of what this ‘spot’ might be, which ranged from ‘nothing’ to the beginning of something bad.  He also explained, that because of where it was located, it would be exceedingly difficult to do a simple biopsy.  He also said that to leave it alone and ‘observe it’ was taking a chance.  His suggestion was… remove the offending thing soon.

Then the doctor told us that there were two doctors there at Missouri Baptist who specialize in laparoscopic surgery, and that both had been in that mornings meeting, and both suggested removing it.  We agreed.  Then, the doctor said he would make the arrangements.  But Carol spoke up, and asked if it was possible for us to see one of these surgeons TODAY, while we were still in St. Louis.  “Highly unlikely,” was the doctors reply.  But, he made a call anyway, and asked. 

Who call a doctor and gets an appointment the same day?  Perhaps with a GP… but a specialist?  Within two hours, we were sitting in the surgeons office, discussing Carol’s case!  And he was so very nice and understanding, and explained everything to us… in detail.  Carol’s surgery is scheduled for February 26th.  

I’ve heard it told of God opening doors all of my life… and yes, I’ve had Him open some for me in the past.  But I’ve never been right there, for a front row seat, to see so many doors opened so effortlessly, in such a short space of time.  It was an amazing experience.

Yes, God IS great!   And God IS good…  just as the child’s meal-time prayer says! And just as God has the whole world in His hands… He also has Carol!

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