But it’s also a number.
Not necessarily a pleasant one, in some cases
Today is my birthday.
My 55th birthday.
Or, if you prefer, halfway to 60.
Do you realize that there are places that give Senior Discounts to patrons my age?
SENIOR DISCOUNTS! Whoopie-doo and la-dee-da.
Senior discounts are for old people like my parents. I ain’t one.
Or so I pretend.
The body is definitely getting weaker and deteriorating. I cannot deny that.
But if age is in the mind, then I insist that I’m still in my late 20′s or early 30′s. I’ve just learned a lot in a few short years.
Now if I can only get the muscles and bones to cooperate.
But maybe I shouldn’t wish for 55 more. That could be boring. Or painful. Or depressing. Or all of the above.
Then again, I am looking at living for all of eternity someday. I suppose I should be getting used to living here so that I will really appreciate what heaven will be like when I get there.
Which I will.
Mid-April always brings the fun of dealing with the IRS. A simple tax code is a dream of many Americans, and it is one that will never come true, at least not while the current crop of elected “representatives” infests the chambers of government.
And my tax situation has changed a bit with the ownership of a portion (albeit rather slight) of Ropak Manufacturing. It wasn’t bad for this year, but next year will be worse, especially if the company is successful this year. Oh, well. One must be punished for progress, industriousness, hard work, and heredity. At least, that seems to be the goal.
The other thing that seems to be a theme this April is the other inevitability: death. On Monday the bombs exploded in Boston. I seldom agree with labor unions, but the IBEW union (I think) in Boston took a large electronic billboard and displayed a single word: COWARDS. In this I completely concur. Whoever did such a thing is a cowardly dog who even fleas would avoid. Was it an act of terrorism? Probably. And when the coward is caught, he should be tried and held until next April’s marathon in Boston. His worthless carcass should be strapped to the pavement at the finish line, and every single runner should be required to stomp on some part of his anatomy before crossing the line and finishing the race. And if he survives that, he should be painfully and publicly executed as a warning to any other cowards that may be considering attacks on innocents. The likelihood of any of that happening is very slim, but it is satisfying to imagine.
Another notable death is former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was buried today. She affected the course of the entire world, not just the United Kingdom. Under her strong leadership the economy of Britain recovered, the living conditions for citizens (including the ingrates who made fools of themselves partying and protesting at her funeral) improved, and the British government again became a major player in foreign affairs as she, President Ronald Reagan, and Pope John Paul II presided over the dismantling of the Soviet empire. One of my most vivid memories of her was at Reagan’s funeral. I was teary-eyed through most of the ceremony and through the ceremonies at the ranch in California. But I really lost it when the attendees were leaving and passing Reagan’s coffin. Thatcher stopped and looked at it, then bowed very deeply from the waist in a final tribute to her friend and fellow-laborer. There will never be another Thatcher. Or Reagan. And one or more is sorely needed right now.
The last thing just came to my attention: singer George Beverly Shea passed away today at the age of 104. Here’s a link to the Christianity Today blog that reports it and reprints his obituary. His signature song was “How Great Thou Art”, which is probably sung in almost every church in the US today. His other signature song was one he wrote himself: “I’d Rather Have Jesus”. I have sung that in church on many occasions. Well, now Mr. Shea really DOES have Jesus, and he will for eternity. I hope anyone who reads this has that same hope.
Death and taxes. We must be ready for both of them.
And she’s in Peru.
Yes, she has been clearly taken there by God to do a work for Him. His hand was all over this one, and we can only thank and praise Him that our daughter is being used by Him in such a way.
But she’s in Peru.
That’s a long way from Alabama.
I hope that she feels the love down there.
Besos y abrazos y amor de su padre y su madre. ¡Te queremos!
Anyone with a passing interest in historical matters will have an opinion of a single event that provided what they believe to be a crucial change in the flow of history.
Many years ago, when it reigned over much of Western Civilization, the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Gregory decided that the birth of Jesus Christ was the paramount event and changed the calendar to begin at what they believed to be the year of His birth (they are now believed to be between 4 and 6 years off). The new years were to be appended with the words Anno Domini, or as we say now, AD.
The Catholics had a good idea to commemorate Christ’s birth, but there was an event in His life that means far more to history (and the future!) than His birth by a true virgin woman.
That singular event was the Resurrection.
The Bible lists for us several instances of dead people being brought back to life. The most notable one was Lazarus, who was dead for four days, yet was called forth from his tomb by Jesus Himself (see John chapter 11). Jesus also raised a widow’s son and the daughter of a religious leader. Even in the Old Testament times there were some raised from the dead, one just by touching the bones of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 13:21). So resurrection was nothing new. Miraculous, yes, but new, no.
But there was a resurrection that was different. Each of the accounts of others who were dead and revived were instigated by an outside force. Someone prayed or called out or touched or did something that externally appeared to cause the dead to regain life.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was unique in that it was self-generated. There were no external influences that caused it or started a process or any such thing.
Scoffers say that Jesus was not really dead, but very deeply unconscious. They have not closely reviewed the facts relative to crucifixion and the beatings that are recorded to have preceded it. It takes an incredible amount of faith to believe that a man could be so abused as to be unrecognizable as even human, then hung up by soft tissue for hours, then thrown into a cold cavern and left alone for three days and then suddenly revive, remove graveclothes, and then push aside from the inside a large stone that had been externally sealed against the opening.
Jesus had 12 disciples. One betrayed him and committed suicide. Nine of the remaining eleven ran away. One stayed nearby, and another kept observing from a distance and even denied knowing Jesus at one point. Just six weeks later, the one who denied stood before a large group of people and declared that Jesus Christ was alive and was the answer to centuries of prophecies. Not too long afterwards he and another of the disciples were beaten, threatened, and imprisoned. Later, all 11 were killed for their beliefs. Does that sound like they were promulgating a false account?
Looking through history there are many evidences of men and women who have given all their possessions and even their lives for their belief in a risen Savior. Does that sound like it stems from an inconsequential event?
No, the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed the course of history in a way that no other event could. And His resurrection also verifies that the promises made by Him and by God that Jesus will return to Earth someday as its Ultimate King is true and will be fulfilled. So the resurrection not only changed our past, it changes our future.
Easter Sunday is the one day each year set aside for the commemoration of this unique event. Every Sunday is a celebration of what we now call “the Lord’s Day”, but Easter Sunday, coinciding as it does with the Jewish Passover celebration, is the actual time in the calendar that the event occurred. So Christians everywhere come together spiritually to remember this glorious event.
Because this event is so important to Christians, it is targeted by the secularists who are trying to eliminate all references to religious matters from the public square. That’s why we see the “Spring Bunny” now and why even the term “Easter” is prohibited in certain areas. That’s why the focus on eggs and candy and other things to steer attention from the real reason for the season.
Christmas is a great time, and it is good to remember the miraculous birth of our Lord. But Easter is the climax of the story. Jesus was born in order to die. And He did die. Completely. Painfully.
And He did it for me. And for you. And for absolutely anyone who will accept that He did it for them.
Please accept His gift. Today.
The last few weeks have been a real display of God’s direct leading and guiding in the life of one of His children.
Ally had been out of work since the previous October when the day care for which she was working had to close down for lack of kids and money. None of the applications she submitted were accepted. She lived by doing odd cleaning and babysitting jobs and asking her parents for money.
Then she got an opportunity to go as a missionary to Papua New Guinea with a school compound. One of the missionaries there was an acquaintance of mine in college at BJU. Everything looked great, and she applied for her passport in anticipation of leaving.
Then the mission board very apologetically turned her down. That was the only remaining prospect she had at the time.
That same afternoon, she received a call from an insurance company regarding the wreck that she was involved in last March. They told her that they were paying everything. EVERYTHING!!! Not just a small portion of a $25,000 maximum payout. EVERYTHING!! Talk about an answer to prayer! All medical bills were paid off, the insurance companies (health and auto) were reimbursed, and she was left with $3,000 in the bank. Thank you, Lord!
The next day, she received her passport in the mail, reminding her of her rejection. That afternoon, her phone rang. It was a long-distance call – from Lima, Peru! They had received her resume and information from the BJU Career Office and were interested in hiring her to teach 4K. The thing was, she had to be ready to start on March 4th.
With prayerful preparation, she agreed and started getting her stuff together to head south – WAAAY south! I will not go into all of the details, but everything fell into place as though it were planned that way. And our faith teaches us that it WAS planned that was, doesn’t it?
Yesterday, February 28th, she boarded a plane from Huntsville, Alabama, to fly to Lima via Atlanta. Our company has some passes for the Delta Airlines Sky Club in the airport, and a coworker gave me one to give to her to use during her 5-hour layover. While in the club enjoying coffee and snacks, she was surprised to see Dr. Bob Jones III and his wife, who were awaiting their flight to India. They had a good conversation, and Ally was further encouraged. Only God could have arranged schedules in such a way that this meeting could take place.
Her flight was uneventful, and she is now on station in Lima at the La Molina Christian School. We are praying for her to be successful. Also, we are praying for additional support for her, since she did not have enough time to completely raise the needed amount. One local church took up a very generous offering this last Wednesday. Others will be deciding soon. And God will make it all happen, just like He has been doing already. Remember the extra $3,000 from the insurance? Now we know why she got it!
This is SO wonderful to watch and to be a part of. Praise God!!!
NOTE: She will be posting updates online on her blog site. Check it out sometime!
Well, it was a hectic two weeks in the Cornerstone Christian School basketball world.
On the weekend of February 15th and 16th, the junior varsity and the girls varsity teams had their championship tournament. Jon was team captain for the JV squad, which consisted of only 5 players. If you’ve ever watched youth basketball, you know how difficult it is sometimes for teams to keep players out of foul trouble. Imagine playing most of the season like that, knowing that if one player left the game, there were no substitute players to fill in.
That actually happened in two games, against the same opponent both times. And both times, the four remaining players were able to control the ball enough to stay ahead and win the game.
After manhandling their first opponent (a previously undefeated team), our boys got to face the same team that they beat twice with only 4 players at the end of the game.Alas, this time it did not work out. The fact that there were only two instead of three referees did not help, as did the lack of willingness to call some blatant and obvious fouls (one with just a few seconds to go and our team down by 2 points!). Our JV boys lost by two points. Jon made the all-tournament team. Had they won the game, given Jon’s 20-point performance the day before, I feel that he likely would have been the MVP of the tournament.
Later in the day after the JV games, the girls played their championship game. The school was the same one that beat the JV squad earlier. They are known for their aggressive coach who likes to run the score up to “prove” how good they are. Well, our girls led most of the game, but, assisted by the ridiculous attitude of at least one of the “referees” (when asked by one of our students why he did not call a blatantly obvious traveling infraction, he said, “I’ve called it enough on her tonight and I’ll give her a break this time.” True story!!) they ultimately lost the game by 5 points.
So, in two championship games on the same day, our teams came in 2nd place both times.
Then came the next weekend – the state varsity basketball championship.
Guess which school we had to play? Yep. The same school who beat us twice the week before. One of their loudest fans was screaming after the girls game that their boys were going for the “trifecta” and would win everything in the state. Only we stood in their way.
I did not attend the game. From what I’m told, our team lead all of the first half, then watched their lead evaporate in the third period as their opponents shot 82% from the floor and tied the game. But the ultimate blow came when our player made 2 free throws with 7 seconds remaining in the game, which was tied at that moment. We added one more point to seal the win by three points. Jon played the final 2:33 of the game when the other tall player fouled out.
On Saturday our boys played for the championship. Some of them were playing in their 2nd championship game in 2 weeks. The team they played was larger and faster. One of the referees (so-called) commented to our coach that none – NONE – of our players would have even made the squad for the other team. Talk about encouragement!
We were behind for most of the game, but they fought and scrapped and worked around some pretty sorry policing by the “referees” and managed to get ahead near the end of the game. Then the boys held the lead. Cornerstone’s varsity are the 2013 ACEAA Division II High School Basketball Champions!
So, Jon was involved in 2 games in 2 weekends with 2 different results. Basketball is over until next fall.
Evie Louise Matthews Robinson died on Monday, February 4, 2013, at the age of 97.
Her obituary is here.
She was the 6th of 7 children born to James and Maude Matthews. Her oldest brother Arthur was my grandfather.
She was married for 72 years to Richard Robinson, who passed away in July, 2009. My first name is the same as his to honor him.
I was never close to any of the brothers and sisters of my grandfather. But I was privileged to know them all, and of all of them, I think I respected Evie more than the others. To me, she was always quiet, dignified, and cheerful.
Something I found out today that even surprised some other family members: Evie and her three sisters (Kitty, Pearl, and Mae) were known as the Matthews Sisters (I did know that already). In the early 1930′s, they traveled across North Alabama and played somewhere around 250 concerts with mandolins and guitars. None of us realized the scope of their travels or popularity at that time. Evie would have been a teenager at the time, since she graduated from high school in 1934. There was a book with some old photos from that time showing the sisters with their instruments. There was quite a debate amongst some of us as we reviewed the pictures and tried to ascertain which girl was which.
Everyone was most effusive in their praise of Evie and her personality. I also did not realize that she taught a women’s Sunday School class for years at her church.
She was the last surviving member of the family of that generation (including spouses). Now all of the 7 are together again. Someday in God’s presence I hope to be able to hear the Matthews Sisters as they sing and play for God’s glory.
Until then . . . I wonder if by some happy chance there is a recording out there somewhere . . . .
That’s how long we have had to deal with our youngest child. His birthday is today, the 3rd.
Don’t think I’m complaining. He is one very special, very talented – no, gifted – person.
He is extremely musical. He very much enjoys sight-reading classical piano pieces out of some of my music books. Some of them are pieces that I have not attempted myself.
He’s good at trumpet, guitar, baritone ukelele, and singing as well. I don’t doubt that if we had a bassoon or a marimba that he could pick that up as well.
He’s the captain of the junior varsity basketball team, and he regularly plays on the varsity squad. He’s student body president at school.
He’s also artistic. He just won 2nd place in the state for a watercolor painting that he did. He also submitted a photograph.
And, for the 3rd straight year, he won 1st place in his category in preaching. He’s the best junior high expository preacher in Alabama!
I am probably bragging too much, but I’m proud of my son!!
But does he really need to get a learner’s permit for driving?
I’ll have to think about it.
I have until tomorrow.
Update: the photo of the birthday boy (and his lovely mother) added above is from our fellowship dinner at church this afternoon. The cake in the lower photo was decorated by a friend who duplicated what is supposed to be Jon’s learner’s permit. Scary, eh?
Break out the music – a dirge would be appropriate.
Chris is 30 today.
I happen to think that I am not old enough to have a son that is beginning his fourth decade of life.
The facts – alas! – are against me on this.
One interesting trivia bit, though: in ancient Jewish practice, a young man was not considered mature enough for Temple service or for other responsible positions until he had reached the age of . . .
Welcome to “adulthood”, Chris. This time we really mean it.
And we love you and are very proud of you.
But you’re THIRTY!
(And I realize that I’m setting myself up for something when I officially qualify for “senior discounts” this summer. Oh, well!!!)
Here are just a few random thoughts I decided to set down. Laugh, weep, or scratch your head, whatever works for you.
- There is a lot of nonsense being spewed right now about gun control. This is leading to an unheard-of surge in gun sales and in copycat shootings. The usual suspects are apoplectic about the need to restrict people from owning anything that goes BANG. Of course, these same people are not calling for restrictions on the sales of hammers. Statistics for 2011 show that at least 25% more people were killed in homes by hammers than by firearms. Where’s the outrage?? Where are the calls for registration of all ball-peen and sledgehammers? Why, look at the ominous shape and dangerous edges of a claw hammer! Someone needs to do something!
- Someone said (I think it was the Vice-President, poor thing) that anything that can be done that saves a single life is worth it. How many lives would be saved if the speed limit on any road or highway was 5mph or less? How many people die in restaurants because they choked on the food? Ban food!! Of course! There is also the tragedy of infant death during sleep. So, we prevent babies from sleeping. Problem solved, right? The sarcasm could continue ad infinitum. The viewpoints expressed by the Vice-President, many so-called journalists, liberal loudmouth politicians, and other publicity hacks are rarely (and never, in this case) based on reason, fact, or common sense. [Disclaimer: the ideas in this paragraph were culled from several different sources, of whom are Dr. Walter Williams and Dr. Thomas Sowell. But I'm a conservative white Southern Christian, meaning **racist**, so I shouldn't be quoting men who are of a different skin color than I, even if they are infinitely smarter and more often correct than I can ever hope to be.]
- One argument that keeps reappearing in the gun control “debate” is that the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution was not intended for modern firearms since the Founders only knew muskets and single-fire weapons. However, no one makes the same argument with the 1st Amendment! The Founders had no way of foreseeing the proliferation of availability of opinions by radio and television and satellite broadcasting, nor by the rapid distribution of newspapers and magazines, nor by the almost instantaneous dissemination of ideas by way of e-mail or the Internet. If the 2nd Amendment can be gutted because of “history”, then why can’t the 1st? Or how about the 4th Amendment? With x-rays, satellite photography, and other modern methods of surveillance, how can we say that the Founding Fathers could define or prohibit these modern advances as “unreasonable search and seizure”? I’m just asking some pointed questions here, not advocating changing or ignoring our Constitution.
- How is is possible that supposedly intelligent people could postulate that the US Treasury should product a 1 trillion dollar coin to allow for paying for additional spending? Upon what pile of fairy dust would the coin be based in order to give it value? At one point in distant memory the US Dollar was based on gold. The gold standard was eliminated, and the dollar was allowed to float. So now we are to just “float” ourselves a loan of $1,000,000,000,000.00 by making a special lump of metal and hiding it somewhere until it can be “redeemed”. Right. Tell you what, I’ll sell a couple of bridges, monuments, and buildings and send 90% of the proceeds to the Treasury. Anybody want to bid on the Statue of Liberty? I also have a big white house for sale, cheap!
- At the PMMI Annual Meeting that I attended in Spokane, Washington, in September, an economist predicted that 2013 will bring a small recession in the middle of the year, regardless of the outcome of the election. Well, at this point we know how the election turned out (I found out on an airplane after landing in London on November 7). Already things are shaping up to be a disastrous year economically in many ways, so from a conservative, fiscally-responsible point of view, it’s almost better that the current president be in office so that he can ultimately be blamed for that which his policies and practices are causing and exacerbating.
From the ridiculous to the personal (which are probably synonymous):
- I’m so glad that 2012 is over. So many things happened during the year that it is best left forgotten. But, as a quick summary: 1) Ally had a bad wreck, totaling her car and injuring her in a number of ways, none of which were as serious as they could have been (thank you, Lord!); 2) Ally also had an accident (or 2) that severely injured her knee, but not bad enough to require reconstruction; 3) I was rear-ended in the car I bought for Ally just 3 days after purchasing it, totaling that car but not injuring anything but our checking account; 4) our oldest son Chris had a major upset in his life which has turned him from the wrong direction into one that is more right; 5) our 3rd child Ben spent part of the summer working for our Congressman and got engaged to his girlfriend. However, they broke the engagement off on Thanksgiving Day which has really affected him; 6) we sold our big blue Ford Expedition, but the buyer never completely paid us and blocked our phone numbers from contacting him (he’ll learn the hard way someday that actions like this never pay off when he does it to the wrong person); 7) our other vehicles had multiple maintenance issues that cost us hundreds of dollars, but each was fixed in a timely manner before they could have caused problems on trips (thank you again, Lord!); 8) our downstairs home heat pump unit breathed its last intake of Freon and did not function for most of the summer, making for a toasty time in the house and a cool time as winter approached; 9) Jon started playing both JV and Varsity basketball. He dislocated his kneecap and got banged up in a couple of games. He also began experiencing some other health issues which may be related to the speed at which his body is growing (he’s taller than me now!).
- I spent much of the last 2-1/2 months of the year on the road. I went (in order) to Indianapolis, Indiana; Chicago; London/Plymouth, UK; Chicago (again, but different suburb); Rogers, Arkansas; Rochester, NY; and Cleveland, OH. The good thing is that I made Medallion status on Delta, so I get a few perks this year when I fly somewhere.
- I officially became a stockholder in Ropak Manufacturing Company, Inc. My father rearranged some of the stock, and he gave my brother and me equal shares of the voting stock in the company. Of course, he retained the majority portion so that Philip and I cannot outvote him (as if we want to!).
- I recently attended the Wilds Music Conference, which I try to visit every year. It is such a wonderful time of preaching, singing, and fellowship with people I rarely get to see and be with. This year a friend from over 20 years ago showed up, and we got reacquainted. He has a sarcastic sense of humor that fits right in with mine. Bystanders beware!!!
I’ve been doing a lot of introspection and thinking lately. When all of the smoke clears and I can make the necessary repairs to the vital neural pathways, there may be some changes. There may not. There could be something, but I cannot figure out what. Let me know if you find me so that I can get back into myself. Or not. Or whatever. I’ll make sense someday.