Weekend Memories

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Six years into our marriage my wife and I decided it was time to take a get-away-weekend to the gulf coast, just the two of us. We continued a tradition her family started, and stayed in a quaint little hotel called the Alamo Plaza on Highway 90 in Biloxi. We were excited to get away from the kids and have some time just for the two of us. Reservations were made and we arrived about noon on Friday.

The first thing we noticed was the hotel had been painted pink. Who in the world would paint a hotel pink? It didn’t matter too much for the old fashioned charm was still inviting and we overlooked the upgrade.

Parking under the plaster entrance I walked inside to register and found new management. The older couple we had grown to know as Pop and Gerdy had retired several years earlier. The new management did not speak very good English and granted us the first indication that things would be a little different this stay.

When you drive through the entrance there are two rows of rooms on either side. We unpacked the car on the right side and got settled in. My wife put on her swimsuit.

“Let’s go to the beach,” she said.

“Already?” I answered with a slight attitude.

“Come on,” she said, “It will be fun.”

Now I am usually a peacemaker and don’t say too much when it comes to things I don’t like. However, you need to understand. I love going to the coast, but I am not much of a beach person, especially in the middle of the day. My idea of fun on the beach is at sunrise or sunset, a time I can enjoy the Mississippi Sound in peace and calm while watching the sun rise and set. There is something about fewer people and less noise that creates freshness about this time of day.

We made our way across treacherous Highway 90’s busy four-lane boulevard. Stepping into the hot sand told me I was here because I loved my wife and for no other reason. We laid our beach towels out, sat down and began rubbing on the sunscreen. The experience of sun poisoning was not a happy moment many years earlier. For me the only thing I wanted was a suit of steel armor. Since it was a hard commodity to find, and it was definitely not a floatable device, I chose the next best thing, Coppertone SPF30.

It was a dull day for lying in a gritty pile of sand and feeling the heat of the sun as ultraviolet rays charbroiled each of my cells, one at a time. I knew that in a few days I was going to look like I was covered in dried red wine and rolled like a truffle in dehydrated coconut flakes. Like I said I don’t enjoy the beach in the middle of the day and I was anxious to leave for the air-conditioned room.

The day did become a little more exciting however when my wife stood to walk in the direction of the water for a quick swim. Before she could reach the shoreline a seagull began to attack. He instigated a flurry of other birds to join in pecking at her hair, her shoulders and anywhere they could peck her. She screamed and I jumped up and swung my towel at them. All that accomplished was for one of them to fertilize my tee shirt with a little slimy excrement. It was obviously time to leave the beach. She ran toward the hotel holding her towel over her head. I picked up our gear and ran with her, swinging and shouting at these flying persecutors. Before she could reach the highway there were so many seagulls attacking her you would have thought she had a loaf of bread attached to her head. She hit her knees and began to crawl toward the highway, screaming and crying. No matter what I did to protect her I found they were not after me, but her and kept up the assault.

Seagull 3Once we reached the highway I turned to see the birds fly back toward the shoreline. Even though we were both a little upset I managed to smile toward the sky and whisper thank you. I did not have to suffer the sun any longer. Once in the room she began to calm down. I checked her head for wounds. Mostly red, but no broken skin, I ran a hot tub of water for her to relax and recuperate.

A blood-curling scream came from the bathroom. I ran to see what was wrong and found her standing on the toilet lid, wrapped in a towel and pointing toward the floor. We have all heard of cockroaches, but this was the cockroach king. I tried to hit that bug-eyed, antennae horned, prehistoric demon devil with my size nine flip-flop. I think it just looked at me like what is your problem dude? I hit him again, and again. Finally he crawled under the sink cabinet where I couldn’t get to him. I still don’t know if I killed him, but he had to have one huge headache. I did, that’s for sure. His appearance was the first sign of our intrusion on a community of giant creatures from behind the walls.

“I’m ready to go home,” she said.

“What? We just got here,” I told her.

“This is a horrible weekend and I am ready to go.”

“I don’t know what the problem was with those seagulls, but it has never happened before today and will, most likely never happen again. Okay?”

“What about the roach?” she said still whimpering.

I wrapped my arms around her and told a little white lie. “Honey, that old roach is dead. I killed him with my flip-flop.” Of course I didn’t know for sure. I wanted to stay because there was so much more to do. You know like the shopping and restaurants?

Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant was first. We loved to patronize this place. On our honeymoon we actually met Mary. She was in her ninety’s now and celebrated out marriage by providing champagne and two wine glasses. I’m not a drinker so I sipped a small amount and left the rest. The ambiance provided a romantic and intimate setting for two and the gulf seafood was unmatched by any other place.

Returning to the room we were prepared for a good nights sleep and climbed under the covers. After snuggling for a while we fell asleep. The terror began. I was awakened to something crawling across my face. I swatted it away and tried to go back to sleep. Then I heard a fluttering noise that ended in a thud. Then another flutter, and a thud. By the time I reached for the beside lamp, my wife was awakened. The light illuminated the room. I don’t know if you have ever heard of Zepar, the Grand Duke of Demons who appears as a soldier commanding some twenty-six legions, but I swear he was here with at least one of his legions of cockroaches.

Coackroach 1I’m guessing the four-inch roach I attempted to kill in the bathroom earlier was Zepar who had returned to the nest and announced they had visitors for the night. Celebrating party-time hundreds of these little terrorists buzzed the room and persecuted us. Flutter, thud. Wipe one off the covers. Flutter, thud. I couldn’t talk my way out of this one so we grabbed our things and ran out the door. Since no one answered the bell at the night desk we slept in the car. I was not in an good mood, at all!

“I want a refund on my room last night, and I don’t want any apologies,” I all but yelled at the clerk behind the desk.

“What wrong, Mita Oldham,” the foreign clerk said.

“We had a horrible night. There were ten gazillion roaches and we slept in the car. Now I want a refund.”

“So sorry, Mita Oldham. How ‘bout I give you one free night in room on other side where no roaches?”

I chuckled. “No roaches?”

“No roaches’ sir, we spray there last week.”

I thought for a second. As long as there is no chemical smell and there are no roaches, why not? “Okay,” I said. “Let me have a key and I’ll go check out the room. If my wife approves, we’ll take the free night.” It did mean a savings I could spend elsewhere.

The wife was not happy but I convinced her of all the benefits of the free nights stay. After scouting the room she approved and we settled in on the far end of the left row of buildings. It was actually a very nice room. All the other rooms were filled toward the front of the complex. Being on the far end we were away from everyone and we would have a cozy and quiet room with no one slamming doors and talking outside in the middle of the night.

We ate a wonderful breakfast buffet at the Beau Rivage and gambled some of our motel savings on a slot machine. I won about thirty dollars but lost it before we left. It was the typical lose, we got you, win back and snicker situation for the casino. It was still fun and I could rationalize my loss by remembering that I lost more than that at the fall fair in Jackson every year trying to win a stuffed animal.

“Ready to go to the beach?” I cannot believe I asked my wife to go to the beach in the middle of the day. Am I nuts? Did I forget I hate the beach?

“Nope,” she replied.

Yeah! I thought to myself. “W…what? I thought you loved the beach.”

“Don’t you remember what happened yesterday?” She snapped at me.

I didn’t answer. I sat in quiet, thankful solitude that I did not have to sit in the sun.

“Let’s go to the Beauvoir,” she said.

The southern home of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was a beautiful home with a museum and library. The two of us enjoyed visiting this home each time we went to Biloxi. When we left the Beauvoir a woman offering special gifts if we would go to the D’iberville Hotel and listen to a short seminar approached us in the parking lot. We were short on things to do so we took her up on it. After listening to a 15-minute presentation on why we should pay seven thousand dollars for one of their special rooms for a single week each year, and a grand tour of the rooms, we were escorted to a boardroom where they had a list of open weeks displayed on a huge blackboard.

“Now, Mr. Oldham, which week can we sign you up for.”

Without hesitation my wife said, “I don’t like being confined to the same week every year. What if I wanted to purchase the entire summer?”

The ladies jaw dropped so fast she nearly had to stop it with her hand.

“Well, we can certainly do that,” she said with great anticipation.

I looked at my wife and thought, have those seagulls pecked your brain so hard it’s full of holes?

She looked back at me like have you lost your sense of adventure.

“Let me and my husband discuss this over lunch and we will be back, okay?”

The sales lady was so excited she gave us two gifts. One was a cheap Polaroid camera and the other was a free lunch at a very respectable restaurant.

“What are you doing?” I asked on the way to the car.

She started laughing and said, “Just having fun. There is no way I am buying one week let alone the entire summer. I just wanted to see her reaction when I asked her about it. Besides we got a free lunch they promised for listening to them, and a camera to boot.

Of course, later, we discovered we actually had to buy one of the time-shares to get a camera that worked. I know that poor lady was so excited she probably skipped lunch waiting for us to return with good news for her commission check. It didn’t happen.

After lunch we returned to the Alamo Plaza. I inspected the bathroom, checked around the walls and even searched under the bed for any signs of Zepar and his cronies. Thank the good Lord I thought, we were going to get a good night’s rest. We nestled under the fresh clean sheets and drifted in to La La Land. Sleep in Nirvana was so peaceful. Snuggled up next to my wife and feeling her warmth against me. I was truly enjoying what I had come to Biloxi for, rest.

“I don’t care what you say! This world is the pits and I’m tired of living in it!”

Startled, we both jumped up when anxious words interrupted our slumber. I looked at the clock and it flashed a good morning to you at 1:30am.

“What was that?” asked my wife.

“People next door coming in.”

The springs started squeaking and banging against the wall. We lay in our bed and listened to moans and groans as each one worked its way through the wood paneling.

A temporary gratification was achieved and we were able to drift back to sleep.

“I hate this world! I’m going to kill myself!”

The neighbor’s words reentered our room with intensity.

“Oh baby, it’s gonna be okay,” his lover cried.

The bedsprings commenced their noisy protest of squeaking and squawking. The headboard resumed pounding our wall.

Oh brother!

Fulfillment achieved, a second time of quiet arrived and we drifted back to paradise.

“I’m gonna shoot myself! It’s not worth living!” Several more of these threats were spoken throughout the night.

By 4:00am I had enough. I didn’t know what to do so I got up and walked around the room. I questioned whether cockroaches or people were the worst pest. My wife was agitated enough from seagulls and legions of bugs to stand and fight. She stood up on the bed and beat on the wall.

“Either kill yourself or shut up!” she shouted.

Silence

Shocked, I didn’t say a word. She lay back down. No springs squeaking, no crying–nothing. I got back in the bed, pulled the covers up and waited for the man to beat our door down and shoot us. Her words must have worked. The couple slamming their car doors and leaving at dawn awakened us. I didn’t even want to look out and see what this chump looked like. I had a vision embedded in my brain and I surely didn’t want to ruin it.

Words were left unspoken while we got dressed and packed our bags to leave. We didn’t get much rest that weekend. Mind portraits of great times are brought home that are still laughable to this day.

We are saddened that there will never be any more memories born and enjoyed from the Alamo Plaza Motel. On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina wiped it off the shoreline of Highway 90. We pass by now and look at an empty lot and carry our smiles on down the highway to a new tradition.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: The stories in this memoir are all true. There is actually only one issue that makes it fiction. This writing is a compilation of several happenings at the Alamo Plaza over several years in our travels to Biloxi. I felt it easier, this time, to put them all together and make one story rather than try to write several different stories. Hope you don’t mind.

 

A New Goliath – Part 3

Goliath Defeated

“Then your light will break out like the dawn,

And your recovery will speedily spring forth;

And your righteousness will go before you;

The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

Isaiah 58:8

In Part 2 we discussed whether we have a right to be afraid, and should we stand against those who want to kill us. If we remember the fear David experienced while he was running for his life we understand that at times we do have fear in our lives. This is not God’s perfect will for us. His will is that we enjoy an abundant life. The way we receive this life is by living within His will. We know His will by His Word, the Bible. We also know His will by communing with him on a personal basis. Communion with Him is how we overcome Goliath when he tries to frighten us into submission. So this brings us to the last question. This is the same question David asked in Psalm 11:3, our premise for this series.

What can the righteous do?

While praying and searching over the last several months the Lord has placed several thoughts in my heart. I am excited! When these revelations hit me it was like a hand slap to the back of my head. These are nothing new. This is how every man of God in the Old and New Testaments defeated his Goliath. As Christians the following revelations are what we should be already be doing, everyday.

What a wake-up call. If we are not doing these things then we are not prepared for any Goliath, let alone this one. Search your heart and see if you are doing these things. I know there must be many more to add to this list. Feel free to add anything God lies on your heart.

  1. Choose: Make a decisionyou are either in, or you are out. Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
  1. Live through him–remember who we are

We have been given permission, the freedom, the liberty, the ability to become, and the power to conquer.

We are fellow helper’s to the truth.

We are the vehicle the Lord uses to bring someone to the knowledge of salvation.

We find our peace, joy, comfort, guidance and direction through Him.

We are adopted children and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are justified by faith

Jesus is our wisdom and righteousness in everything we do and say.

He will reward us if we diligently seek Him.

We have our hope in Him.*

  1. Do NOT lose heart: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
  2. Encourage one another and fellowship together. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” In other words you should already be doing this and now is not the time to quit. Ephesians 5:19-21 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Encourage unbelievers. 1 John 4:16 “…we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Are you living your life as the fragrance to God? Are you living your life as an example to the unbeliever?

  1.   Love one another. John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  2.  Love those who hate us. Matthew 5:44 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Matthew 5:43-48You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is not something we just say, it is something we must do. If this New Goliath comes against us there will be those, both saved and unsaved, who will need our comfort. Are you living your life in a way that these will feel comfortable approaching you?

7. Be obedient to God’s Word, especially when we don’t understand it. John 14:15If you love me, you will keep my commandments I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Remember the Old and New Testament saints we mentioned in Part 2? They are examples of obedience. Hebrews 12 gives us a list of so many who give us an example of faith. Remember, “. . . without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exist and He rewards those who seek Him.

8. Pray!!! Pray!!! And Pray Some more!!! James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. We have heard this verse many times. Do we believe it? This is verse is so important to understanding John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

As one evangelist has stated so bluntly, we do not have answered prayer because we are too lazy to pray. Is this true in your life? We should assure ourselves that we stand with the righteous. When we ask in prayer, we must ask in travailing prayer much as Jesus when sweat drops fell from his brow in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is sincere prayer. This is not a head prayer, but a heart prayer.

9. Be compassionate. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Telling others about Christ is our foremost responsibility. God trust us to be obedient and win others to Him. When is the last time you shared the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ/

A another wake up call: Ezekiel 3:18-19 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. “But,” if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. It is of utmost importance that we understand this. People are dying and we may be their only last hope of salvation.

10.  Be confident, stay in the race, never quit, and look toward the reward. Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. Sometimes we must suffer. This is part of our calling. But, as 1 Peter 5:10 says, And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. He is always faithful to reestablish us. Remember Job?

11.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit, He is our Helper John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Remember these things:

Romans 8:16: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

1 John 5:6-8: And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

Galatians 5:16-19 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

12. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority,. . .” Why? “. . . because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” Hebrews 13:17.  

13. Teach your children and grandchildren Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Deuteronomy 4:9“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

14. Expect God to fulfill His promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments 1 Corinthians 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful 1 Thessalonians 5:24 The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

15.  Give thanks in all things: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Notice, when evil men came against Daniel, he gave thanks as he had always done.

16. Praise God! 1 Chronicles 16:8 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

17. Again, of utmost importance, remember Who our real foundation is, it is not this world. Government did not build these foundations. God did. Genesis, Chapter 1ff.

2 Timothy 1:9-10 Remember who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Ephesians 4:1 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

I mentioned at the beginning of Part 3, if you have any you would like to add please feel free to do so. There are so many! PTL

Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.

Psalm 20:6

  • *https://theunfetteredpreacher.com/2016/07/25/that-we-might-theunfetteredpreacher/

 

A New Goliath – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we discussed the Israelites and their fear of the Philistines who wanted to subject them to their will. We also discussed David, and the panic he encountered when chased by King Saul who wanted to kill him. You can find Part one here: https://christiangrandfather.com/2016/07/28/a-new-goliath/

goliath

In 2013, there were some 2,100 Christians killed across the globe for their faith. In 2015 that number rose to at least 7,100(Not all ISIS). 3  In 2014 “ . . .the Islamic State (ISIS) . . . published a new edition of the propaganda booklet Dabiq, which is again signaling its primary enemy – Christianity.  This “terror groups desire is to conquer Rome and ‘break the cross,’” This aspiration is much like that of the Philistine’s who stood in defiance of God and petrified the Israelite army. “Their goal is to pave the way for the appearance of their Mahdi, the Islamic Messiah.” 1 Just this morning ISIS has announced they will begin attacking London and Washington D.C.

I am by no means a theologian so I am not trying to go so deep that I lose both you and me. I only share what is in my heart, and in the hearts of those around me. I left you with the following questions:

Do we have right to be afraid? As did David, should we stand against those who want to kill us?

“The Philistines were mentioned in the Bible as far back as the time when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. The Philistines were the mortal enemies of the nation of Israel for hundreds of years. When the Israelites had finally settled into Canaan, they had to contend with the Philistines.

These two nations constantly fought against one another. One of the major reasons as to why the Philistines and the Israelites constantly have strife with one another is because of their religious beliefs. The Philistines primarily believed in Dagon (god of fertility) and the Israelites believed in Yahweh, or God. These two gods were nothing alike and this religious difference played out in the lives of the Philistines and the Israelites in forming their cultures and shaping their lives.

Another major reason as to why the Philistines resented the Israelites is because they had conquered so many people when they entered into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. The Philistines were a powerful and warlike people, and they didn’t like the idea of having the Israelites being strong. So they constantly challenged the strength of Israel and many times they wanted to subject them to their rule to prove they were better. God also let the Philistines remain in the land to test and punish the Israelites whenever they strayed away from worshiping him. The Philistines defeated the Israelite armies on many occasions and they even managed to get some of the people to turn away from worshiping Yahweh.” 2

America has been a strong nation over the past 240 years. Our strength was formed on the foundation of Christianity. Those who hate us are challenging its very foundation. We see around the world Christians been beheaded and killed in other ways. They desire to come to America, and are already here in small cells preparing to attack when they feel it is time. This is our New Goliath.

My first inclination is to say, “YES” we have a right to be afraid. I believe most of us would agree this would be our first thought. We defend our fear by saying God created us with this innate characteristic to protect ourselves from harm. It is part of our human nature. If we see a tornado headed out way our emotion is to get to safety and protect ourselves. If someone wants to hurt our children we immediately run to their protection. Fear is a part of human nature. When Goliath comes for us are we to be afraid? When this huge enemy comes against the foundations of our world are we to grow fearful of what will come?

If you are old enough, do you remember the days of uncertainty; post WW2, in the 1950’s and 1960’s when everyone was building bomb shelters? We had atomic bomb drills in school. When the alarm sounded we immediately climbed under our desk, folded up into a ball and waited for the end of the world. Children were genuinely afraid and were relieved when the alarm sounded a second time to tell us to go back to learning. We were preparing ourselves for war.

Like David, if we did not have a human nature of fear we would not need these passages to remind us. The key is to overcome this mortal nature with one of a spiritual walk with out God. The Bible is full of passages where we are instructed to have no fear. In fact there are so many I struggle to decide which ones to use. We all agree with these. I believe most of you are like me in that while we agree with these scriptures we do so with a disingenuous heart simply because we have never had anything, or anyone really stand against us and threaten our lives. This New Goliath is now doing just that.

Through out the Word of God we are given example after example of how to handle fear. These examples have One thing in common, they trusted God. I imagine Abraham had fear sparked in his heart when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. His fear was quelled by his faith in God. Daniel was thrown into a den of hungry lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. Elijah was deathly afraid of Jezebel, who threatened to kill him, so he ran. Their own Goliath challenged each of these men of God. Paul and Peter were thrown in jail for their faith and their lives were threatened. Stephen was a layman just like you and I. He was stoned and killed for his faith. God delivered each of these men.

And fear not them which kill the body,                                                                                                                                                                                                 but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him                                                                                                                                                                        which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.                                                                                                                                                                Matthew 10:28(KJV)

We have a hard time understanding what it means to rely on God and put our trust in him. This is why so many gloss over the scriptures that tell us “do not fear.” We battle within our hearts with what it means to not fear when the foundation of our world is crumbling. We struggle with allowing God to be in control.

These Scriptures are there for our benefit. They are God’s Word for us to place in our heart and develop a faith in His security. Instead so many of us do not embed these assurances and move forward in our own strength. When we lose sight of these promises, our worries build an intense scenario that does not exist in God’s Word. When we apply the Word of God daily He will ensure our safety.

We need to be like Job; he had a fence around him so high satan could not penetrate it. How did he have that hedge of protection? Through prayer, worship and obedience to God. How can we build this hedge for ourselves and our family? One prayer is the first brick. Another prayer is another brick on top of that one. Worship is another brick. Obedience is still another on top of these. If in our lives we are constantly laying brick we begin to realize that we are building the same hedge of protection around ourselves, and our family. Our confidence grows. In this way we begin to see that when we take God’s at his Word and do not fear, we are growing in the same confidence the saints of old had in their lives.

God is faithful to his Word. When we develop our hearts and minds to capture God’s strength we learn to depend on Him and His Word. When we have our confidence in Him, we do not have to fear. We know that this Goliath is only one of many that will be defeated by the Almighty.

The key is to grow in confidence by FOLLOWING. We prepare for battle in the same way those saints before us have done; we allow God to lead; we follow. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” James 4:8. This is how we prepare to meet Goliath. When we follow after God’s lead, . . .the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp (Job 11:20).

In Part 3 I will address the question: What can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV)  

References:

  1. Newsweek, 10-14-2014)
  2. http://amazingbibletimeline.com/blog/philistines/)
  3. https://churchpop.com/2016/01/17/the-number-of-christian-martyrs-tripled-in-2015/

 

A New Goliath – Part 1

goliath 3I have thought and prayed over this for several months. There is something we all share in common. There is something weighing on all of our minds and hearts. With the exception of a few Christian bloggers, few are discussing it.

I like to take just a moment to remind you of two familiar stories about David. In 1 Samuel 17 we see the Philistine and the Israeli Armies on opposite hills in a face off. The Philistine champion was named Goliath. He stood nine feet and ten inches tall (For most of us we brush over that as if he is only the size of one of our professional basketball players and don’t take the time to comprehend just how tall the was. Next time you are in a home improvement store, go to the molding aisle and pick up a piece of 10 foot molding and stand next to it. See just how big Goliath was). When you are fitted for your armor you are given that which you can handle with the greatest of ease. In Goliath’s case his sword was longer and heavier than most, his spear was longer that he was tall, and the head of the spear was cone-shaped weighing about eighteen pounds. His armor weighed in at over 250 pounds, more than the average soldier can pick up on a good day.

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelite’s were dismayed and terrified.” 1 Samuel 17:8-11

 Please read that scripture again. This time read it out loud, with emphasis and sarcasm in your voice. This is what the Israelite army heard, not once, but for forty days both morning and night. They went to bed hearing it, and woke up hearing it.

Notice how Saul’s army was feeling—dismayed and terrified. If you look these two words up in the Hebrew, they simply mean, shattered, broken, greatly afraid, and trembling excessively.

Now I ask, if you were taunted twice every day how would you feel? You are waiting and hoping someone, anyone but you will answer the call. No one does. You hear murmurs among the others saying, “We can’t fight him; he’s way too big for any of us.” Pushing each other saying, “You go–No you go!–I’m not going!–I want to go homeWe are all going to die! The Philistine’s knew they would beat you with Goliath’s strength and you knew it too. The foundations of your world are being destroyed. Fear has you hypnotized.

Well, we know how the story turned out don’t we. God sent a lad named David with a slingshot to defeat this huge tormentor and end his relentless persecution. David trusted God and did not fear the enemy.

So Jonathan told David saying,“Saul my father is seeking to put you to death.

Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning,

and stay in a secret place and hide yourself.

1 Samuel 19:2

Goliath was David’s first victory in battle. Many others followed. Now he faced a new enemy that frightened him. King Saul was God’s anointed king. He knew that he was beginning to lose his anointing and that someone would take his place. He believed it would be David’s older brother, Eliab. When Saul became jealous of David and assumed he wanted his throne he sought to kill David.

Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch until morning so he could kill him. Michal, David’s wife, also Saul’s daughter, let David down a rope so he could escape. In the morning Michal told the messengers he was in bed sick. When they checked, they found what they thought was David covered up because they could see his hair; actually it was goats hair made to look like David’s hair. When Saul heard this he sent the messengers back to the house to bring him in the bed so that he could kill him. He was furious for his daughter’s deception. (1 Samuel 19:11-12)

He tried to pin David to a wall by throwing a spear at him. David escaped. (1 Samuel 20:33)

Saul continued to pursue him, to kill him. There is controversy over how long this pursuit lasted. Some say eighteen months while others say fifteen years. The time doesn’t matter as much as David’s panic. David lived in constant fear. He continued to run like, as we say in the South, a scalded dog.

You know the rest of the story. Saul is confronted by David, who now was holding a piece his garment. David sliced off a piece while Saul was relieving himself to show that David meant him no harm. In fact, David bowed before Saul in honor of the anointing of God on this king. David saved Saul’s life more than once.

These are two different stories of David. One is as victor, and one the foundations of David’s world are crumbling. He lived in fear. Have you ever been in either, or both, of these circumstances? Have you ever felt like the foundations of your world were crumbling? Did you know what to do and how to handle it?

In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”  Psalm 11:1-3

goliath 4We have a New Goliath on the loose¾He stands and taunts us every 83 days with another killing somewhere in our world. He is huge and stands in the same defiance of the True God that the Philistines did. You’ve heard of all these evil killings and the hatred that has developed over the last several years; especially the killing of those who will not follow Islam. In particular Christian believers.

I don’t have to go into a lot of detail to make my point. You know what is happening and if you are like the Israelite’s—like David—like me—you are scared. You just don’t know what to do.

If you read the news, ISIS is NOW going to kill Christian’s in their places of worship. In fact a Catholic priest was murdered this past week in France while holding mass. Nuns were used as human shields to protect these cowards while they fought off the police.

The foundations of our world are being destroyed before our very eyes.

David asked a very important question in this Psalm 11. “ When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The authorities say ISIS is already in all fifty states of our union. They will begin to attack us on a regular basis. So what can I do as a Christian? What can the body of Christ do when the foundations of our world are crumbling?

This is Part 1 of this discussion and what has been on my heart and mind for months. In Part 2, I will discuss some of the answers. I would like you to ponder the following questions and have your comments ready for my next post.

I leave these questions with you?

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

  1. Based on these two verses of Scripture, Do we have right to be afraid?

2. As did David, should we stand against those who want to kill us? Why, or Why not? How can we stand against them?

3. What can the righteous do?

Arrested ~ My Side of The Story

Arrested - police_officer_arresting_young_man_cg4p9736339c_thI watched as the khaki and brown uniforms walked from the other side of the cafeteria. The officers stopped every few tables as if they were asking where they could find someone. The students pointed in my direction. When they got closer I stopped conversation with my friends and directed their attention toward the police. The County Mounty arrived at our table.

“I’m looking for Andy Oldham, and . . .” He said.

I only heard my name called, as it seemed the only one important to me at the moment. Why was he looking for me?

“Are you Andy Oldham?

“Yes sir.”

“Stand up, turn around and place both hands behind your back.”

“What did I do officer?”

He didn’t answer my question.

“There, they’re not too tight are they?” The Madison County Deputy asked.

“No sir, but what did I do? Shouldn’t I be told what I am being arrested for and read my rights, or something?”

“You’ll find out soon enough, and your rights will be read downtown,” he said.

*****

     The week before my arrest was Prank Week 1969. This week of scheming to see who could play the best trick happened on the campus of Anderson University at the beginning of the year. No one could get hurt physically, mentally, or emotionally. Since I have always enjoyed playing jokes on others, and having them played on me, I was looking forward to my freshman year in the dormitory at Dunn Hall.

Eric Borlin, my roommate, played his joke on his girlfriend, Jane, without realizing it. He didn’t mean it as a prank, but we loved it. Like a lot of men, Eric’s hair was dark brown but his mustache was red. To make them match he colored his mustache with brown shoe polish.

Around 10:30 one evening, a lot of guys were sitting around the fireplace when he and Jane came in to the Commons after a date.

“Hi Mo, hi Andy. What are you guys doing?”

Mo Hodge started laughing first Dennis Harrington chimed in. Sometimes I am a little slow, but this time I caught on before many others.

“Hi Eric, what’s that brown stuff around Jane’s mouth?” Mo asked.

When Eric got upset, or overly excited, his saliva filled his mouth and he would hold his hand under his mouth so he wouldn’t get drool all over his shirt. That’s exactly what happened. Eric began sucking slobber back into his mouth while looking at Jane.

“What’s around my mouth Eric?” Jane asked.

Holding one hand under his mouth he ushered her outside. “Come on let’s go.”

I can imagine the conversation they had over a large brown ring around her mouth. Of course, since she didn’t stay in the dorm, they had to go somewhere to clean it off before he took her home.

*****

    The girls in 1969 had a dorm curfew, boys did not. Late one night, several buddies of mine, and I, made our way to the girl’s freshman dorm and checked it out. We had been joking all week with some of the girls and told them we would get you before the week is over. After finding a couple of the girls cars we drove downtown to the Anderson Herald dock and acquired several bundles of old papers. We snuck back to the dorm, opened the bundles and wadded up all the papers. We stuffed as many papers in the car as we could and shut the doors. There were several bundles left over so we put them on top of the car.

When the girls didn’t comment on what had happened we were surprised. Prank Week ended and several weeks went by with no discussion. We were puzzled but knew we couldn’t ask or they would know we had played this dastardly trick.

Arrested - cop-flashlight-33872

   “My Dad is the Director of Security on Anderson’s campus,” I said. “Let me call him.”

“You will get your one phone call when we get to the jail, son. “

He took me, and my three buddies, and led us by the arm toward the front door of the student cafeteria. Hundreds of our peers stopped eating and stared in amazement. A group of my closest friends followed us out of the building. When we got the front door the Indiana policeman turned around and told them to stay there and not to follow.

“Duck your head, son,” he said, as he placed each of us in the backseat of the patrol car.

“I still don’t know what I did,” I said.

No response from the officer seemed appropriate for him, once again.

Two per car, I looked at my friend and he gazed at me.

I whispered, “Do you know why we are being arrested?”

He shrugged his shoulders indicating he was just as puzzled.

The car moved forward and east down University Boulevard, from the cafeteria. We turned right on Nursery Road, and right again on E. 5th Street. Yes, we were headed in the direction of the Anderson City Jail. Anxiety swept over my soul as we approached College Drive. Wait! We were supposed to turn left here, not right. Did this cop know where the jail was? Turning right again, and back onto University Boulevard, we were headed right for the cafeteria. Needless to say we were, now, totally perplexed.

The sergeant let us out in the same place we had been put in the cars. About that time these four girls, and about one hundred acquaintances, came running out pointing fingers and laughing. Unlocking our handcuffs, the cop said, “There has been a mistake. You are not the criminals we were looking for.” And, “Oh, by the way, you have been pranked.” He walked over to the girls and got a huge hug from each. He turned and smiled at us, got back in the driver’s seat and drove away.

I guess you know by now who played the best prank and it surely was not us guys. After several weeks the girls let us in on their secret. Even as conniving and careful as we were that night they were watching our every move from the third floor window of their dorm. They saw every piece of paper we stuffed in the car. While watching they planned their revenge. The next morning one of them drove the car to the recycle company and collected a little pocket change.

Weeks before my arrest, these college age juveniles were pulled over by this Madison County cop for running a stop sign. As girls will be, they laughed and giggled and used their child-like charm to make friends with him. When they needed a prank, he came through for them. Boy, did he ever.

I have to smile. After all these years, this was the best joke ever played on me. I will never forget. I have to stop and thank God for the humor in my life.

FullSizeRender(33)

A Gentle Giant

We had a great week of vacation. We went to Lewisburg, Ohio for a family reunion on my little brother’s farm. It was a great time of fun and family and reminiscing about things past. After the reunion the family went for a stay in the Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg, TN. This was the first time we had rented a cabin and it was wonderful. Of course we went to Dollywood and Splash Mountain. And of course there always has to be shopping, ugh.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Friday was our last day and my son and daughter wanted to see Wonder Works, an upside-down house with lots of things to do inside. Once we found out it would take three hours we decided to take Kenzie (my 1 year old granddaughter) back to the cabin and wait until they called.

Half way up the mountain the car started sputtering but we made it to the cabin. When the kids called I climbed in the car only to find out it would not start. I called a repair shop and was told they would send a wrecker to pick me up but it would be at least two days, which would turn out to be Monday, due to being closed on Sunday, before they could even look at it. I told them to forget it.

I called my insurance and they sent a tow truck. Hearing the wrecker groan up the mountain to our cabin, I got worried. Upon arrival a man from the movie Deliverance climbed out of the cab. He loaded the car on the back and I rode down the mountain with him. He kept complaining about the brakes squealing because the shop won’t take the time to fix them and he told them one day they are going to give out. I prayed, “please, Lord, not today!”

Upon arrival at the shop, which was somewhere in the boonies and not near the main strips, I was stranded. The first thing I saw was Cujo. Stop laughing, it was true! Lying in the middle of the front door was a large Saint Bernard dog. He covered the entire entrance to the shop. He looked at me like he was thinking, not another person to disturb my nap. Cujo 1_Smokey Mountians_8083He was a huge dog with a right eye that was red and deformed. This did not make it any easier to make a decision about what to do. You can imagine what went through my mind. Do I step over him? Call for help? Try to find a back door? Shoo him away? None of these options seemed a good idea. Finally, a man walked out and stepped over him.  I took his action to be my cue so I stepped over Cujo and wasn’t ripped to shreds, YaY!Cujo 2_Smokey Mountians_8083_edited-1At the counter was a woman who reminded me of a very poor family with dirty clothes and face. It almost made me wonder if she was the mechanic. She was very polite and even offered me her car if I needed to go pick up the kids. Her husband came in. He was a big burly man with a high-pitched, almost female voice. I was relieved to see him and felt much safer when I read his cap, which simply said, I love my Jesus! He was just as polite as his wife and said he would send someone out to look at the car right away. He did, too. The battery was dead; there were only 7 amps of power left; she could not hold a charge. A new battery was installed only to find out it did not help. I waited for them to put in a new alternator, while I sat in a white plastic chair trying to keep Cujo from sniffing places I did not appreciate him going.

Only an hour had passed before, BAMA, the mechanic, had me ready to go. I was thankful for such nice people, a weird and unforgettable experience,  and that I could finally get back to the cabin.

The kids had walked about 4 miles to a McDonald’s in Pigeon Forge and waited for me to pick them up. We went back to the cabin and let them take a shower while I hugged on Kenzie. We went out for supper and then more shopping, ugh!

If you are ever in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area and need a tow, or a good mechanic, please look up BAMA at Carr’s Service Center. They are open 24/7, even the shop. Just remember this one thing, when you see a large Saint Bernard in the middle of the doorway it is safe to step over him. He is a gentle giant.

Carr's 24-Hour Service          865-453-3152

Carr’s 24-Hour Service
865-453-3152

The Legend of the Dogwood

  Dogwood_4905_edited-1

“When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
Its branches were strong and interwoven,
And for Christ’s cross its timbers were chosen.

dogwood_trunk_Cornus_florida

“Being distressed at the use of the wood,
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
‘Never again shall the dogwood grow
To be large enough for a tree, and so,
Slender and twisted it shall always be,
With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.

Dogwood_4897_edited-2

“’The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown,
And in the blossom’s center a thorny crown.
All who see it will think of me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.
Protected and cherished this tree shall be,
A reflection to all of my agony.’”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more about this legend:

http://www.creationtips.com/dogwood.html

It’s Friday……..But Sunday Is Coming!!!

I am sure that many of you have heard this message before. It is always worth hearing again. When I was in college back in the 1970’s I was privileged to hear Dr. Anthony Compollo preach this sermon. It is one I have never forgotten, especially when Easter comes each year. He preached it for many years on Good Friday. Read and enjoy.

Andy

Taken from the following website: http://apologetica.us/2009/04/10/its-friday-but-sundays-coming-2/

The whole tape is great but the best part is at the end when Tony Campolo recalls one Sunday when he had a little preaching competition with the head pastor at the church where he attends.

Dr. Campolo tells how he preached the perfect sermon in every way and had taken the congregation to ‘the heights of glory’. As he sat down beside his pastor, Dr. Tony patted him on the knee and simply said, “Top that.” The older black pastor looked at him and said, “Boy, watch the master.” Then Dr. Campolo recalls for us the very brilliant message which followed.

The following is a short printed version of the 45 minute sermon–the printed version doesn’t really do justice to the original, but you can at least get an idea what the last part is like:

Cross_3904_edited-2

It’s Friday. But Sunday’s coming—

It was a simple sermon, starting softly, building in volume and intensity until the entire congregation was completely involved, repeating the phrases in unison. The sermon went something like this.

It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming.

It’s Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, “Father, forgive them.” It’s Friday; but Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, “My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?” What a horrible cry. But Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. And at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday’s coming.

It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.

And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.

Now, it’s Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn’t the only thing that was shaking because now it’s Sunday.

He Has Risen_3856_edited-1

And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it’s Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it’s Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.

It’s Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It’s Sunday. And now everything has changed. It’s the age of grace, God’s grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it’s Sunday.

At the end of the message the pastor shouts out:

It’s Friiidaaaay!

And the whole congregation responds:

But Sunday’s Coming!

Cross_3825_edited-1

If you would like to listen to the entire sermon you can find it here at this link (the last 5 minutes will have this part in it).

http://tonycampolo.org/its-friday-but-sundays-coming/#.VRRQBGaYI7A