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Once Upon A Pie

Back in the early fifties when most ladies wore one-piece bathing suits which covered their buttocks and their breasts – and everything in between, when prepubescent children wore either swimming trunks or simply their underpants, and when “suntan lotion” was mostly baby oil with a tropical fragrance, the developed portion of Ocean City, Maryland, went up to perhaps 20th Street and the Boardwalk. One of the first motels (for before then, most accommodations were in rooming houses) was the Sea Scape Motel, at 16th and Boardwalk. (It’s gone now, replaced by a Hyatt Place, to open in 2018.) Back in those days, for a day trip a family brought their drinks and food in their Skotch Kooler, or (if they were really flush) bought hamburgers or hot dogs on the boardwalk. But for weekends or longer their choices were enhanced with diners such as the one downstairs in the Sea Scape. T’was there I formed my first crush – on Irene.

The first time I recall seeing her, I’d been given some money to go get myself some lunch. I climbed up on the rotating stool at the counter, perched on my knees, and spent some time trying to get the uniformed waitress’ attention away from some guy who was “talking her up” at the other end of the counter, but to no avail. I grew impatient with being overlooked, stretched to my best height, and let out a wolf whistle in her direction. “Dat,” as the cartoon character said, “dood it!” Smiling, she came down the counter and attended to me. I asked for a piece “of that pumpkin pie there,” in the case on the counter, got it, and enjoyed every bite. It was so good, I asked for another.

“So,” she leaned in and asked, “You liked that pumpkin pie, did you?”

“Sure did. Best I ever ate.”

“Well, Honey,” I felt myself blushing. “I’ll get you another piece, but I gotta tell you, it’s not pumpkin, it’s sweet potato pie.”

I pondered this revelation for, oh, maybe three seconds. “Sweet potato, huh?”

“‘fraid so.”

“Tasted like punkin to me. Gimme another piece, please.”

After that, when we went to Ocean City, I’d seek out Irene. We became friends, though I have no recollection of her looks or her age. Then one day, she was gone. Threw me over for some truck driver. Maybe it was that guy from the first day. I was crushed (by my crush – see what I did there?) for a time, but I got over her.

And I’ve seldom had that good a piece of sweet potato pie since.

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What follows is excerpted from a recent message from my pastor:

There is not one child in here, between First and Twelfth Grade, that should have anything that allows them to access the Internet, that they can carry around and destroy themselves with.  Shame on you!  For not hearing…and hearing…and hearing.  A voice has stood up and been crying—a clarion call—“The sword of the Lord!”

“I’ve got it.  My kids can handle it.  I can handle it.  It’ll never happen to us.”  How are you supposed to flee youthful lusts when Dad is putting it in your hand?  How are you supposed to shun the very appearance of evil when Dad is buying it and putting it in your hand?  Why?  “Because everybody else has it.”  How do you keep your young men from ‘going down to the corner,’ when Dad drives them down there and puts it in their hand?  It is tragic.  It is sad.  The reasons we tell ourselves, to justify—and the reason is because we don’t want to abstain, because we don’t want to discipline our lives to be true caretakers and overseers and guides of our children.

It exists in some of your houses, and the same things that we’ve spoken and spoken and spoken to, that were ignored, your time’s coming—if you don’t change.  You’re not immune.  And I’m just crying out to you with a heart that’s broken.  So I admonish you:  It’s obvious you don’t listen to me—but at least get quiet and see if God might give you some good guidance, and see what He has to say about your home and this generation.

But what we’ve told you has been the Word of God, and we’ve given you these principles.  So, we’re not going to say, “You can’t do this,” and, “You can’t do that.”  Flee youthful lusts.  Shun the very appearance of evil.  Come out from among them.  And touch not the unclean thing.  All of these principles.  Go overboard, if you need to, in running in fear from the world, the leaven, the seductive power of Satan—for ambition, the lust of the eye, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, of accomplishment, position, possessions.  Don’t you want to be one of those, ultimately, of whom the world isn’t worthy?

t2gospel

A DROWNING PREVENTED“Is there a shark in the water?  What’s everyone looking at?”  The spectators on Panama City Beach were transfixed by the unfolding horror of an entire family being swept out to sea. Nine members of the Ursrey family had been caught up in a powerful riptide and cast helplessly into fifteen feet of dark, turbulent waves. Their cries of terror barely reached the shore.

A few men rushed into the sea and began to link arms.  Quickly others went racing out to join them.  Within minutes, a human chain began to take shape in the midst of the chaos. People who could not swim joined hands in a surf rising to their necks. Swimmers paddled out to the end to link arms.  Soon eighty men and women had instinctively orchestrated a human lifeline nearly 100 yards long.  They reached the imperiled victims and, one by one, passed them safely back…

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t2gospel

ISIS CRUCIFIXION

When 22 people died outside a concert hall in Manchester, England, the media coverage was wall to wall.  The cry went up that something must be done! Journalists followed the investigation.  Press briefings were scheduled regularly. With broken hearts, we pored over color photographs of the victims, many of them only children, and we listened to bystanders describe their horror.  The world grieved as the story unfolded for a week.

Five days later, 29 Christians in Egypt died when terrorists attacked their bus. Forty-two others were seriously injured and the assassins got away.  That story vanished in less than 48 hours.  No color photos.  No interviews with authorities. No tragic details.

Here’s what you probably never heard.  The Christian group of parents, grandparents, and children were traveling in two buses to pray at a monastery. Their vehicles were stopped by terrorists outside the town of Minya.  After the buses were…

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The other day I saw a comment on my Twitter feed.  It didn’t, for some reason, link to the original post that began the kerfuffle to which I arrived.  The most vocal commenter was ranting about biblical tongues being no more than a distracting, self-induced, self-aggrandizing gibberish, while some others tried without success to reason with the critic.

Later on (while mowing and praying, actually), I formed a general mental retort to that critic; However, a Scripture popped into my head which, in turn, popped my “bubble,” so I purposed to check my Bible (always a good place to start!), which I did that evening.

This took me to First Corinthians 13 and 14, but let’s begin in Acts, Chapter Two, which the critic used as her sole basis for her rant:  (NKJV used except where indicated.)

 “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:4-6).

Her reasoning, based on this single passage, was that anyone within earshot should understand someone “speaking in tongues,” and since she didn’t understand it, it must be fakery.

Rather than here quote huge portions of Scripture, I’ll point you to it and “let your fingers do the walking,” as the old ad used to say.

There are distinct instances of tongues: first, that initial physical evidence of having been filled (or baptized with) the Holy Spirit—separate from the Holy Spirit being received upon being born again. The first is the result of seeking the infilling, Luke 11:13; the other is received at the new birth (John 3:6, 14:16). Second, there is the use of said language to edify oneself (1 Corinthians 14:4), giving personal, private praise and thanks to God.  Lastly—and the critic apparently experienced a misuse of this—is a “message” in tongues given aloud in a gathering of believers. Such a prayer (for that is what it is) must always be directed toward God, and must always be followed immediately by an interpretation so that the assembly may be edified. I repeat: tongues, in whichever situation, is always directed Godward – it is never a message to the flock or to an individual. (1 Corinthians 14:1-33).  That is something else entirely, into which I will not delve here.

One more thing.  Speaking in tongues is always the initial, physical evidence of being “baptized” in the Holy Spirit.  The Scriptures clearly state this in every instance but one, where the language strongly implies it:

“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:18-22 KJV).

How did Simon perceive they’d received the Holy Spirit?  I have bolded the word “matter,” above. This is the key.  This word is, in the Greek, logos, or “something said.”

I hope I have given some of my readers food for thought.

Resounding Praise

This is a letter to the body from a family in our local church assembly:

Dear Family,

She had blood work done on Monday. Our faith was hoping for a positive report,
but in the natural we were discouraged because she has not been feeling well the last few weeks. She has also been experiencing many physical, emotional, and spiritual attacks … it’s been a battle. But God has been so incredibly faithful through it all.

In addition to the liver function tests,  she asked the doctor to retest the Autoimmune function panel. Last February while in the hospital, she tested positive for an autoimmune disease…more specifically Autoimmune Hepatitis (Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver). The liver biopsy done in May, confirmed the Autoimmune Hepatitis and showed continuing and extensive damage to the liver.

However, the autoimmune function panel from Monday came back completely NORMAL – saying she has NO autoimmune disease anymore.

And the liver function tests are the BEST they have ever been!!

To explain it a little better – her liver function results should be under 30.  When she was admitted to the hospital last February, her counts were about 1,000 (according to the doctor she was in “end stage liver failure.”)  This past year, her liver has continued to function and symptoms subsided without the use of the steroids and immunosuppressant medication.  However, her liver levels have stayed dangerously elevated. The hepatologist told us repeatedly that he has never seen anyone come back from end stage liver failure without the use of high dose steroids and immunosuppressants.

In November, the UVA hepatologist told us that her liver levels were going back up and her liver was failing again.  At that point, he told her she had 1-2 years max to live (unless she started the steroids and immunosuppressants) and she would definitely need a liver transplant within the next year.

BUT GOD.

Her liver function results on Monday (remember, the normal range is under 30) were 36 and 43!!!!

We still need to see those numbers COMPLETELY normal and stay normal, but there is absolutely no other explanation for this other than GOD.

WE GIVE HIM ALL THE GLORY FOR THE THINGS HE HAS DONE.

Thank you for your faithful prayers, intercession and encouragement on our behalf.

We love you all.

For some reason, this morning my thoughts drifted back to around 1955, when I lived in the newer section of Buckingham (apartments), in Arlington, Virginia. There, bounded by N. Pershing Drive, Henderson Road, and what is now North Second Street, lay a five-acre oasis of sorts, the home of “Mr. Culpepper” (Charles Washington Culpepper (1886-1980) a renowned horticulturist, it seems).

I was a runt, eight years old, with allergies to just about everything. I couldn’t stand to be around flowers, for instance, but I never experienced any symptoms while wandering, with his permission, through what was to me a jungle of every type of plant and tree imaginable, including a stand of bamboo. There was even a frog pond, fed by a spring. I was the only kid I knew of whom he trusted to wander unaccompanied through his property, because all I did was wander. I never interfered with the frogs or picked anything, as did others later on, which resulted for a time in him posting his land off limits. Mister Culpepper had the biggest hands of any man I’ve ever known.

While I never developed an interest in gardening, I did later on in life find enjoyment in traipsing through the woods, hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) (not all at once) from Harper’s Ferry to Swift Run Gap, and about half of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Pennsylvania, as well as numerous “day hikes” on offshoots of the AT, and two traverses of Old Rag Mountain, one on which Mary accompanied me.

I wish I could let his descendants know how fondly I remember Mr. Culpepper and how much his (to me) “Garden of Eden” still evokes pleasant memories, but that trail seems to have grown cold, as I discovered his son passed away over a decade ago.

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