A-Symptomatic Christians

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

Recently we have heard a term over and over again: A-symptomatic. It has to do with people who don’t show any symptoms of the Covid-19 virus but are infecting people around them. This spike in people becoming infected here in the US more than anywhere else in the world has given rise to all sorts of theories. Mostly they revolve are wearing a mask to keep from spreading the virus – seeing the mask as a political statement and/or believing that the 1st Amendment to the Constitution says we have the right to do what we want and say what we want.

The wearing of a mask has absolutely nothing to do with politics. You wear it to keep from spreading the virus to others and to seek from getting it ourselves. Covid-19 has no political party. It is not conservative, liberal or independent. It strikes, harms and kills people of all parties, all ages, all faiths and all nationalities.

Many of you read a grandmother’s post on facebook about her encounter over wearing a mask. She was leaving Target, pushing her cart, heading for the car. As she reached her car this big overgrown truck whipped in the space next to her. Rounding the bed of the truck was a lady in a huff. She looked at my grandmother and said: “I bet you are a liberal since you are wearing that liberal mask?” My grandmother had been preparing for the day she would be confronted by someone like this. She quickly replied: “No, I woke up this morning with a 103 degree temperature and feeling achey all over… so I thought I should wear this mask.” But if you don’t want me to wear it let me take it off and give you a big old hug. Walking toward the lady with her mask removed… arms open wide… saying come on let me give you a hug. The truck lady started moving to the other isle with this grandmother right behind her. The faster she moved the faster this grandmother moved. The lady fell and this grandmother grabbed her foot and pulled on her leg… just like I am pulling on your’s right now.

We may say I’m not going to wear a mask until we come face to face with the virus… up close and personal. Till we picture ourselves in the ICU on that ventilator. Then it just may be a different story. I read in the paper a story of a covid-19 party out in Arizona where young people were enjoying themselves consuming a lot of alcohol and dancing around with a person who had tested positive for the virus. The whole idea was to see if anyone got the virus. They were just tempting fate… thinking that if they got it they would be ok. Several contracted the virus. One young lady in her twenties ended up in the hospital, in the ICU where her last words before she died were: “I think I made a big mistake.” Young, middle aged, elderly… the virus does not discriminate. People from 11 years old to 90 some years old have died from this virus. It is not something to play with or take lightly. Take it serious folks… it harms… it has lasting effects that are still unknown… it kills people of all parties, all ages, all faiths, all nationalities. Now days, with the new variant, young people are dying.

As I was preparing for this message I heard people talking about the 1st amendment rights of freedom of speech. “You can make me wear that mask, of keep a 6 foot distance… I have the right to do what I want.” I found this little landmark case which says: “The government can only regulate protected speech in very specific instances, such as protecting public safety or national security.” Wearing a mask is worn for public safety and actually national security. So, if this is your excuse for not wearing a mask, you are outside the freedom of speech protection of the 1st amendment.

So, we are left with the only argument: Wearing a mask is a matter of faith. A couple of months ago my grandfather had a procedure at Wesley Long. Before they would ok him for the procedure he had to have a covid-19 test. A few days later the test came back negative. I though it was interesting how they determined it was negative. After sticking that 8 foot cue-tip up his nose and half way through his brain they reported that there was no “Shedding” of the virus. In other words Went he breathed out there were no droplets which would infect anyone who was near.

I wonder if we are shedding a virus known as the love and grace of God to those who are near… those we come close to… our family… our friends… our co-workers… strangers we meet in our everyday life. If they were to stick that big cue-tip deep into our souls… deep into our lives… especially when we were not looking… would they find that we are shedding the faith of Christ? If not, then why not. Can you be found positive in the Christian Virus test… infected to the very core of your being… shedding love all around?

We wear a mask to protect others from the Covid-19 virus not for political reasons or because of the 1st amendment. We were it because of our faith… a faith that says at the very core of who we are… we love God and we love our neighbors. If you love your neighbor you want them to be safe and healthy… and certainly not get some deadly disease because we are to selfish or to stubborn to do at least the basics of our faith. So the answer to the mask question… the Covid-19 question (how do we get rid of it) is love your neighbor enough to care… really care about them.

Grace and Peace
Steve

I Hope you will take the time to look at my new book… Phoenix Rises Again

Ruffled Feathers

ruffled feathers

You know that it is easy to be an angel when nobody ruffles your feathers. But it seems that feather rufflers will always be around.

We’re told that 19th Century German statesman Prince Otto von Bismarck’s feathers were so ruffled by the criticism of a professor acquaintance of his, that he challenged the man to a duel. Protocol had it that the one challenged was to choose which kind of weapon was to be used in the duel.

The professor made a thoughtful choice… he proposed they duel with sausages. He sent word to Bismarck, along with a pair of sausages, that one sausage was safe to eat. The other had been poisoned with trichinae, which would cause a slow and lingering death, or at least long invalidism. He informed the prince that he should pick which sausage to eat and said he’d eat the other one.

Bismarck reasoned that a man might die with some sort of honor on a dueling field, but never by food poisoning. He sent the message back, “His Highness has destroyed the sausages and asks that you be his guest at dinner this evening. After due consideration he feels he may have been slightly in error. He believes an agreement can be reached.”

It’s said that one of the most important trips a person ever takes is “to meet someone halfway.” Bismarck met his adversary halfway and neither man was poisoned that day.

When others ruffle our feathers, we always have a choice. We can meet them on the equivalent of a dueling field and slug it out with words, or worse. But escalating conflict almost always means there will be a winner and a loser.

Or we can take that trip to meet them halfway and iron out a compromise. It is rarely an easy trip to make, but it’s worth it once we get there. And who knows, we might even find a solution to the conflict where both sides feel they are coming out ahead.

It’s your choice. And the choice you make will make all the difference.

Grace and Peace

Steve

 

A Real Apology Takes Action

cat LOL

Listen to this letter of apology:

  “Dear Dog,
I am so sorry about you being sent to the dog pound for the broken lamp which you did not break; the fish you did not spill; and the carpet that you did not wet; or the wall that you did not dirty with red paint…

  Things here at the house are calmer now, and just to show you that I have no hard feelings towards you, I am sending you a picture, so you will always remember me.

  Best regards,
The Cat”

The Old French root of the word “repent” is “repentir,” which actually means to be sorry. The cat may have said he was sorry, but there is no sorrow here.

It reminds of me of the story of a woman with fourteen children, ages one through fourteen, who decided to sue her husband for divorce on grounds of desertion. “When did he desert you?” the judge asked. “Thirteen years ago,” she replied. “He left 13 years ago. Where did all the children come from?” The woman looked sheepish. “He kept coming back to say he was sorry.”

Again, no sorrow here, for if he’d been truly sorry, he would have stayed. Sincere repentance always leads to change. I know a story where a man wrecked his daughters’ car and said: “It’s my fault, I’ll help make up for what I did.” But he never did anything. There was no real apology… only words.

We need to learn how to make a GOOD APOLOGY — one that is sincere and honest. One that gets the job done. Offering a good apology is not something many people do well. But we can learn.

It is well said that a good apology has three parts: I am sorry; it is my fault; what can I do to make it right?

I am sorry. Three short words that, when they are heart-felt, can be most difficult to say. But when uttered, they can change lives.

It is my fault. No excuses. No blame. Psychologist Carl Jung insightfully said, “The only person I cannot help is one who blames others.” When we accept fault, we have the power to do something about it. When we pass the blame, we are helpless to keep it from happening again.

What can I do to make it right? Unless we change something, nothing changes. A good apology is followed by action. Otherwise, it is only words.

If you are going to apologize, apologize well. Never ruin your apology with an excuse and back it up with action.

Learning how to make a good apology is too important to neglect. It’s part of maintaining whole and healthy relationships. And it’s something we can practice today.

Grace and Peace
Steve

NEW BOOK ON THE MARKET

Hi Guys,

Just in case you have heard about it… I wanted to share the news with you. The wild look guy on the right has just published a revised book (on the left) about some of what happen with the old Phoenix Project of the Vietnam 60’s rising from the ashes in today’s world. All of this is fiction, but not unrealistic in the crazy world we live in today. It is set in 2024 but I hope it never happens even in 3024.

You can purchase this book from amazon simply by clicking on it’s image on the right of your screen (if you have gone to my blog page). If not there just type in the title in amazon’s search bar. I really appreciate your support in this endeavor.

It is just an ordinary book, using ordinary language, telling a simple story of intrigue, courage and betrayal. By the way, your kids and grandkids can read it. No language used that is inappropriate for them to read. I didn’t want my grandkids asking me why I used foul language in my book.

I had to stay true to my inner self.

Thanks
Steve

 

The Important Things

handwritten dark writing school

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I recently read the story of someone where one of his best friends had been killed in a private plane crash. Something happened at the memorial service that he’ll never forget: At the memorial service, his friend’s wife walked to the podium to speak to the gathering. She said a friend had asked her the best memory she had of their life together. At the moment, she had been too grief-stricken to answer, but she thought about it since and wanted to answer the question.

They were in their late forties when he died, and she began talking about a time in their lives almost twenty years earlier. She had quit her job to obtain her master’s degree, and her husband never wavered in his support. He held down his own job and also did the cooking, cleaning, and other household chores while she studied for her degree. One time, they both stayed up all night. She was finishing her thesis and he was preparing for an important business meeting. That morning, she walked out on their loft, looked at him over the railing, and just thought about how much she loved him. She knew how important this meeting was to his career, and she was feeling guilty that she didn’t even have time to make his breakfast. He grabbed his briefcase and hurried out. She heard the garage door open and close, but much to her surprise, she heard it open again about thirty seconds later. From above, she watched her husband dash into the house and walk over to the neglected coffee table. Tracing his finger through the dust, he wrote the words “I love you.” Then he raced back to his car.

The new widow then looked out at her audience and said, “John and I had a wonderful life together. We have been around the world several times; we’ve had everything money can buy…but nothing comes close to that moment.” Our lives move with lightning speed. It feels like yesterday that I graduated from college…and now forty years have passed. Although I’m very proud of my business accomplishments, in the end, my life comes back to loving and being loved.

This story about a husband’s random act of love always reminds me that the smallest things can make the biggest difference to those around you. It reminds me to do little things for the people I love to show them how much they mean to me. I pray I always remember this story enough to remind me to do those little things with my family and friends. I hope this story also inspires you to love and be loved.

Grace and Peace
Steve

Hope you will take a look at my new (revised) book

just published on Amazon (July 4, 2021)

“Phoenix Rises Again.”

What do we do now?

https://s315.podbean.com/pb/ca7b1db7a91d2ed753d2e57ba5eafef3/60e4b6ef/data3/fs5/5314698/uploads/Randysquare.jpg?pbss=efa0d32c-783b-51c6-b4ea-c04e0ad14b18

I invite you to listen to my favorite preacher… July 4th sermon from Washington National Cathedral in Washing DC… The people’s church.

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-wu59c-1080d2c

My Last Two Uncles

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Joe & Guthrie

These two men were the coolest dudes when I was growing up… Joe, on the left, was the youngest of my uncles on the Melvin side.  WG Brown became my uncle when he married Joe’s sister. This picture was taken while both of them were in the Army at the time. Joe stayed in the Army… fighting in Korea and Vietnam. Matter of fact he volunteered to go back to Vietnam SIX times. I have never known anyone who was so gung ho. It was not that he loved war, just that he seemed to be energized by living on the edge war provided. He was an outstanding soldier. Congressman, Howard Coble, presented Joe with 55 medals from his time in service. He is now in the VA home in Asheville waiting for room at a VA facility nearer to Greensboro.

Guthrie Brown was just cool. When I was a young child Guthrie started work as a Park Ranger at Guilford Memorial Park. I always looked at him with great respect, especially because I thought he worked with Smokey the Bear… and to me that was a big, big deal. But as I grew I found there was much more to him than his famed friend.

WG, as he was known, was one of the biggest NASCAR fans around. Back in that day you pulled for the car. The big adversaries were Ford, Chevy, and Plymouth. WG was a FORD fan. Some would pick on him saying that FORD meant Fix Or Repair Daily. His come back was always First On Race Day.

He was a good man, cigar and all. He was always true to his word… one of those you can always count on, my kind of guy. When I was 16, I asked my Aunt Betty if I could borrow their car for a job interview. WG’s car was his baby… and you didn’t mess with his baby. I was very, very careful to drive safely and stay out of everyone’s way. His car was a gold colored Ford Galaxy… I mean… top of the line… sweet, cool ride. To be any cooler you would have to drive a T-Bird convertible.

He was our family’s James Dean or Steve McQueen. He didn’t try to be like them… he was just cool. Well, Guthrie stepped through Heaven’s Gate on Saturday, July 3rd, 2021. He was in his 90’s and it was just more difficult to struggle through… He was a good Christian man who made it to the finish line. I don’t know if he saw a checkered flag or not, but I am sure he saw Aunt Betty and felt the loving arms of God. Guthrie, you made it all the way… the car may have been a little wobbly and the ride unsteady… but you were welcomed at the finish line with a “Well done, my son, well done”.

We all will miss this man, his manner, his laugh, his smile, and a man who was as real and honest as they come.

I still think he worked with Smoky the Bear.

Grace and Peace
Steve

A Good Christian Man

Leland Cantrell

This man above is one I have admired since we first met in 1997. You see, my son was dating his daughter, Joy. He impressed me because of his faith and devotion to the church. I have never met anyone so involved in the community, the church and the mission of the church.

Over the years he would go on mission trips (Building Teams) to help build churches in other countries… sometimes even twice a year. He also worked to help people in need in the community. He has been a faithful and active member of the church from childhood til this day. He is one of those people I call the “Fabulous Fifty.” These are the ones you can always… always count on to be present, ready and supportive. If you were to ask anyone about Leland, they would tell you that he is a good Christian man.

He not only helps people of the community, the church and those in need around the world, he also extends that Christian compassion to family and friends. A few weeks ago he borrowed his son-in-law’s car to get some pine needles. On his way to pick them up he was involved in a car wreck which totaled both cars. Our son’s insurance was responsible for both cars. This week Stephen received notice of the settlement… which would not replace his car… and would add to his insurance rates.

Soon after the wreck, I called Leland to see if he was okay… and thank goodness he was. He didn’t speak much about himself… as others might have. His concern was being part of the remedy for the situation the wreck had caused. I expected nothing less from this Christian man. I know this will relieve our son of just another happening to his young family, confirm his children’s respect for Gramps, and put a smile of pride on his daughter’s face.

Thank you Leland for always being that Christian example will all can follow. You make us proud to know we can call you our friend.

Grace and Peace
Steve

Be Back Shortly

Today I went for my first hemoglobin shot at Cone Hospital. Seems that my hemoglobin number has dropped to 6.7. The way I feel is like the opening words of the old Superman television series of the 1950. “Faster than a speeding sloth. More powerful than a moving nat. Able to leap tall curbs in a single bound. Look! Down on the ground… it’s a mannequin… a wrinkled pile of clothes… It is super old man saying Help, I have fallen and can’t get up.”

I will be back on line as soon as I get some strength back. Remember me during this time of recovery. I will miss being in touch with you each day.

Grace and Peace
Steve

The Prayer for the Children

A while back, I was introduced to The Prayer for the Children, which is a contemporary ballad written by Kurt Bestor and arranged for choir by Andrea S. Klouse. It is a God thing how this song came about.

Bestor described how he came to write the song: “Having lived in this war-torn country back in the late 1970’s, I grew to love the people with whom I lived. It didn’t matter to me their ethnic origin – Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian – they were all just happy fun people to me and I counted as friends people from each region. Of course, I was always aware of the bigotry and ethnic differences that bubbled just below the surface, but I always hoped that the peace this rich country enjoyed would continue indefinitely. Obviously that didn’t happen. When Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito died, different political factions jockeyed for position and the inevitable happened – civil war. 

Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other. Serbian brother wouldn’t talk to Croatian sister-in-law. Bosnian mother disowned Serbian son-in-law and so it went. Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the US and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness. Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words….Can you hear….? Can you feel……? I started with these feelings – sensations that the children struggling to live in this difficult time might be feeling. Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song.”

“Those children didn’t hate anybody,” he said. “They didn’t care about who owned the land, or who had the power or the money. These are adult neuroses. They just wanted to have a mom and dad and a place to play.”

That is so true of every child in every place in the world. We take these words for granted but for some this prayer for the children is so real that it breaks your heart to hear these words. Click the link below to hear this beautiful prayer sung.

The Prayer of The Children

Can you hear the prayer of the children on bended knee,
in the shadow of an unknown room?

Empty eyes with no more tears to cry,
turning heavenward toward the light.

Crying, “Who will help me to see
the morning light of one more day?

But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take?”

Can you feel the hearts of the children aching for home,
for something of their very own?

Reaching hands with nothing to hold on to,
but hope for a better day.

Crying, “Who will help me to
feel the love again in my own land?

But if unknown roads lead away from home,
give me loving arms, away from harm.”

Can you hear the voice of the children
softly pleading for silence in their shattered world?

Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
blood of the innocent on their hands.

Crying, “Jesus, help me to feel
the sun again upon my face.

For when darkness clears I know
you’re near, bringing peace again.”

Dali cuje te sve djecje molitve?
Can you hear the prayer of the children?

Dear Lord, help us be the answer to the prayer for the children of the world in and through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Grace and Peace
Steve

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