Saturday, November 22, 2014

For men: your holiday shopping guide...and guidelines

Last week (Nov. 20) on Facebook, I posted, “Coming soon...a men's guide and suggestions to Holiday shopping. Stay tuned.”

Well, here it is. With over 20 years in the grocery/retail related industry combined with over 26 years of marriage, maybe, just maybe there are a few things that might help my brotherhood of men. Enjoy!

1.       If she says, “I don’t want anything for Christmas,” don’t you dare believe it.

2.      Can’t emphasize this enough—LISTEN to your wives or girlfriends. When they mention something they like, inquire right then. Ask! Write it down as quickly as you can and file it away. Hey, it’s my blog; I can tell this….years ago, Santa was in a Wendy’s. As we walked in we spoke to Santa and Renita said, “Santa, don’t forget my diamond earrings.” Clue…and she loved it and when she got them she said, “How did you know?”

3.      Ask her girlfriends, co-workers to whom she is close or friends at church has she given any clues of something she would like. Then, go for it.

4.      Never make your shopping last minute. Now, you might have to “last minute” due to work or commitments, but you already know what you need. Yet, the earlier you get it the better off you are. Trust me…come out of the gates running. Because, there just might be a last minute gift or two that needs to happen—then, you’ve got the time for it.

5.     Best time to shop—Tuesday nights. Usually a slow night and you can work at a pretty good pace. Set the time aside and work your list.

6.     Ask questions for clarification of store employees that are ladies. No, I am not being sexist or anything of that nature, but if I am looking for something Renita has mentioned, I will ask a lady about it because ladies speak the same language. Plus, the ladies are trained to help pitiful looking men. 

7.      Gift cards and certificates are good as a supplemental gift…ONLY. If that’s all you will do, it appears you are not thinking about it—too last minute. Yes, I know the reason, “Well, she can get what she wants.” No, no, no, no…buy as close as you can and assure her if she’d like something else, you’ll gladly go with her and get what she’d like. Yeah, I said, go with her…we only have them once and it’s not going to kill you. 

8.     More on the gift cards and certificates…cold, hard cash works great, too. Keep the cash idea in mind for the next one...

9.     Don’t dare purchase anything that has to do with housework or weight loss. No kitchen appliances. If she asks or hints about any of these items, find out the price and give her cash. See #5 and #6.

10.  If you attempt to buy clothing, know the size. If you guess, you best guess on the smaller side. You best know the difference between petite, misses and junior, too.

11.  You have the right to say, “Baby, I love you…but the day after thanksgiving at 3 AM is not for me.” Great time for girlfriend outings. Now, if there is an item she wants and that’s the best time to get it; get with it…by yourself…or, wait until the following Tuesday.

To some guys, they might read this and say, “Man, Jeff, Renita’s got you trained.” Nope, I’m not a puppy to be whipped with a newspaper…but I love my girl. When the Lord said it was not good for man to be alone, well, I agree. I’m sure not going to disagree with the Lord.

And, I might be a sissy…but I’m a happy spoiled one!

Have a great, merry Christmas! From the Wildwood (via the hills).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lessons from a ticket

                Was thinking about nearly twenty years ago while working for a national food company I was traveling Hwy. 31 south in north middle TN and I was not paying close enough attention to my speed…but a fine state trooper was. Let me just say he did a fine job that day.

              So, to court I go. I was guilty, folks; I was wrong, but sometimes the punishment presents other options than a huge fine and increased insurance premiums. If not, oh, well…what would be. I believe it was Judge Jones, a fine and fair judge that offered the guilty parties to come to a class one Thursday evening and the ticket would be expunged.

                I arrived and I thought, you know, why I am here, let me make the best of this. I might learn something. The instructor? Judge Jones, himself. He addressed a number of things and then he said something that stuck with me even this morning (I used it leaving the Fresh and Low Market on Georgetown Road). It went something like this…

                “Folks, do you know the number one place for accidents in Gallatin? In front of the Kroger store. See, people want to turn left on one of the busiest streets around and shoot across five lanes of traffic. So, the person in the first lane stops to let them out and as they are pulling out, the person in the next lane can’t see them and there is the accident.

                “But you know, why not just take a couple of minutes and drive through the parking lot to the side street? Turn left and go to the traffic light where you can safely use the light and then turn left.

                “What’s a couple of minutes in the scheme of things?”

                Folks, that hit me…and I’ve used it since. Use the traffic lights and be a little safer.

                Now, this is not a blog on driving technique (I hope it helps you as it has me), but let’s bring forth some spiritual thinking…

                What’s a couple of minutes when facing a life changing decision that if you make the wrong choice or allow yourself to be pressured into it, you know it will be wrong? “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Rely on your God granted faith through His word (Rom. 10:17).

                What’s a couple of minutes when if we say the wrong thing, we will hurt someone and regret it? You’ve been there; I’ve been there and I will probably head that way again (but I sure don’t want to). Remember, our tongues are small but they pack BIG trouble (Jas. 3).

                What’s a couple of minutes? Take them now and turn your life toward the lord in simple faith (Jn. 3:16; Heb. 11:6), repentance (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38), confession (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37) and baptism into Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38) washing them away (Acts 22:16) and adding you to the church (Acts 2:47). Yes, you can do that this very day.

                What’s a couple of minutes? If your Christian life has not been the right example and you have fallen away (Heb. 3:12), call on a brother, one of the elders, your preacher and get to praying (Acts 8:22-24; 1 Jn. 1:8-10).

                You know, if we take a couple of minutes and address matters we will be amazed how many things can be accomplished. And, spiritually speaking, it’s the most important thing we could do.

             What’s a couple of minutes in the scheme of things…or compared to eternity? Just remembering, reminiscing and appreciative of some good advice still put to use this in the Wildwood.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ultimate truth from Ultimate Warrior

I awakened Wednesday morning to Renita telling me of the sudden passing of the Ultimate Warrior, aka Jim Hellwig. 54 years of age. My, the memories started. I recall nearly 30 years ago when watching “Memphis Wrestling” (as it was known in the general sense) that two huge guys called the Freedom Fighters were making their debut. One was Jim Hellwig and the other was Steve Borden whom you probably know better as Sting. Yep, saw them in some of their earlier matches…but that’s another time. 

But, what caught me were the words expressed just last Monday night when the Ultimate Warrior addressed a wrestling audience in New Orleans. Among his greeting to the fans he stated, “Every man's heart one day beats its final beat; his lungs breathe their final breath.”

And 24 hours later his heart…his lungs…did.

Before you leave the Wildwood today…

Today IS all we have folks.

  • Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14).
  • "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Mt. 6:34).
Please pause and think that today could be your last day. I need to pause and be reminded that today could be my last day. And then, eternity.

If I am no longer walking a faithful Christian life (Gal. 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; Heb. 3:12), I best stop the sorry excuses, repent and rededicate my life to the Lord…and I best do it now while the opportunity is before me (Acts 8:22-24).

If I have yet to become a Christian, may my faith in God (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 8:24; Jn. 3:16) move me to change my heart; my decision and direction which is repentance (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30); confess Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Mt. 10:32; Phil. 2:11) and be baptized into Christ for remission of my sins (Acts 2:38) washing them away (Acts 22:16) placing me in Christ (Rom. 6:4-6; Gal. 3:27) and in His church (Acts 2:41-47) that He promised (Mt. 16:18) and purchased (Acts 20:28).

“Every man's heart one day beats its final beat; his lungs breathe their final breath.” So true.

Prepare in this life for the next life…a warning and an exhortation because of love…from the Wildwood.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Discouraged? Read on...

Discouraged? One little thing that helps is to go immediately and encourage somebody.

Discouragement muffles the pleasant words of encouragement; when we are discouraged who do we have a tendency to think about more than anyone?  Yes, that’s right—ourselves. We get in the pity parties and think it is only us.

Consider Jesus for a moment.  Think of the words of John 14:1-6—well known as a passage of encouragement, peace and hope.  When we consider the context beginning in John 13:21 through chapter 14, note the ones struggling…it wasn’t only the apostles:

  • Jesus was “…troubled in spirit…” (13:21). The One pleading with others not to have a troubled heart was troubled!  A troubled spirit is defined as the “rational soul; mental disposition.”  In other words, Christ knew of His impending death, thus the struggle…and others things, no doubt, was bearing upon Him as well.
  • He acknowledged that one would betray Him (13:21-30), that being Judas. One of the twelve!
  • He advocated “love one to another” (John 13:35)…between one betrayal and as we’ll see one denial.
  • He addressed Peter (13:36-38), that Peter would deny Him three times. 

 Christ’s grief and struggles were much greater, yet He comforted the apostles.  Amazing!  What a Savior!  He did it; so can we! It reminds me of those sweet words in that hymn, Follow Me:

"I work so hard for Jesus" I often boast and say
"I've sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune, I'm worth a lot to Thee"
And then I hear Him gently say to me,
"I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross,
But now we'll make the journey with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to me.

                You know, maybe…nah, no maybe to it…the things that discourage me can be addressed and worked with when I look at my Savior. Imagine what all He faced the night before His death!

So, try this…visit a nursing home or rehab facility.  Walk in the door with the aim of encouraging someone and when you walk out that door, you will see the difference in your life. Wave and speak to every soul you pass. Find those couple of folks you know and sit a spell.

Visit with your fellow Christians; give and receive encouragement. Find those sweet folks that can’t get out as much anymore and pay them a visit. Sit a spell. 

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad” (Prov. 12:25).  Our hearts will be lightened with the good words we express.

Give it a shot! In the valley of discouragement? Look up…there’s the mountain just you leave the Wildwood.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Superbowl Sunday and the update

             Several years ago, a good brother in Christ and I penned some things concerning the Super Bowl.  Blending the “then” with the “now,” we find once again that this Sunday evening will contain one of the most watched sporting events of the year.  Companies spend millions upon millions of dollars for 30 seconds to advertise their product(s) during this televised event.  People will travel to New York from almost every state in our nation via cars and planes. 
For the Christian who enjoys watching football the problem is the time of the game.  Each year the Super Bowl interrupts the evening worship hour of God’s people.
            For some this conflict poses no problem.  They don’t come regularly anyway so no one will think anything about their Sunday evening idolatry in front of the television set.  Some “churches” will change or even cancel their entire serve to accommodate this secular event as they bring in the big screen television and watch the game in the name of “fellowship” (may I say “funship”).  I recall several years ago an article in the Nashville Tennessean where a minister was mulling over whether to attend the Super Bowl or “miss church” because he had won tickets.  The congregation where he preached moved its evening worship service from 6:00 to 4:00 PM for a large Super Bowl party.  His quote… “We just decided this is a phenomenon we want to embrace.”  Physical prioritizing for spiritual compromising…yep, that’s sacrificing, all right.  Yes, you can guarantee I wrote that preacher.
I knew of another congregation that would watch the game until halftime, have a “short devotional service” then watch the rest of the game.  I wonder what would have happened had someone responded to the invitation to be baptized.  Could you imagine?!?!  I can hear it now, “Humph, missed two minutes of the third quarter!”
            Now, before I continue onward…I am not dealing or discussing the good genuine wisdom of elderships or of “brethren meetings” in deciding the best meeting times for a congregation.  For example…
1)  Several years ago, an eldership in Tennessee decided to assist their brethren who drove several miles to worship as gas prices eased upwards.  So, they selected the first Sunday of each month to meet Sunday morning as usual, have a meal and then a 1:00 service to help.  Nothing wrong with that…an honest decision for care and concern (Heb. 13:7, 17).  I recall one of the elders telling me, “And, now, they moved the Super Bowl to the first Sunday, but we know why we made this decision and our members know why we made the change and the Super Bowl had nothing to do with it.”
2)   There are congregations of the churches of Christ who have always met on Sunday mornings due to the distances some members drive, especially in the Midwest and Northeast.  Again, an honest and good decision and they still meet upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
3)      There are congregations of the churches of Christ that change their evening worship times to assist with the time change for elderly members.  Again, not dealing with that.
4)  Not dealing with weather conditions…sometimes it is quite dangerous and again, a conscience decision is made for safety and concern of the flock over which an eldership has the charge to oversee (Acts 20:28ff).
But, the issue for thought is when the decision is made, if you will, to cancel or alter a service solely because of an athletic event.  May I ask, where does it stop?  Should we then cancel certain nights of VBS because of little Johnny’s ball game?  Gospel meeting night for little Suzie’s soccer match?  Why not back up the starting times for Sunday morning for the Daytona 500?
            I am 51 years of age…I’ve watched the Super Bowl evolve into a HUGE event.  It used to never, ever be an issue with the church and it really doesn’t have to become one now.
            For Christians the Super Bowl is viewed as nothing more than another test of their faith.  Beloved, who do we love more?  What is more important?  What would Jesus have us to do?  For those that “seek first the kingdom of God” and have their “minds on things above and not on the things of the earth” there is no choice.  They will meet faithfully Sunday evening and pray, sing and study from the Word of God.
            I recall when the Titans made the Super Bowl, one of the guys at the church where I preached had two VCR’s ready at this house.  He recorded the game as we all were at worship.  When we arrived at his house, he pulled the first tape and popped in the next one and kept recording.  We watched the first one, never missed a play and fast forwarded through all the other stuff.  Nowadays, DVR’s are perfect…same effect (but no tapes).  TiVo is great as well.  Have brethren over that night to watch it but don’t lower spiritual standards and place a secular game with only temporary enjoyment before your spiritual obligations that have eternal rewards and consequence.  Is the Super Bowl really worth Heaven?
            I am thankful to labor at a congregation that our evening attendance is some of the strongest for “Super bowl Sunday” evening.  Afterwards, I have had the blessing of joining brethren to watch the game and have a wonderful time together.
            Enjoying the Super Bowl can be done without a change in our spiritual priorities.  I mean, come on…when you really get down to it, it is nothing but a football game.
            And, well, it’s just not “super” unless my Titans are in it...loyal fan I am...from the Wildwood.
Special thanks to my co-author, Rob Whitacre for the article, idea and permission for adaptation.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A voice from the past: Raymond Crumbliss

While staying in Portland, TN conducting a gospel meeting some time ago, I came across a booklet titled The churches of Christ salute you compiled by Ralph O’Neal and David East.  While perusing I came across the following article and when I saw the writer, well, it was worthy of reprising.  Raymond Crumbliss served as the preacher at the East Side church of Christ (where I currently labor) from 1963-1967 and continues to be revered and honored by those that were attending East Side at that time.  It is worthy to post here since, well, one time bro. Crumbliss proclaimed the gospel…literally…from the Wildwood.

IS CHURCH MEMBERSHIP NECESSARY?                                                                 Raymond Crumbliss (deceased)

                Membership in the Lord’s church, as it is revealed and described in the New Testament, is indeed necessary, if we would please God here, and live with him hereafter.  Contrary to many of the confused notions which infest the religious world of our day, the church is not merely a convenience to which God is indifferent.  Nor is it a body into which men may enter, or refuse to enter, and be equally approved of God.
                The church was in eternal plan of God, Eph. 3:8-12.  Part of the will of God which Jesus came to do, was the building of the church, Matt. 16:18.  His blood was its purchase price, Acts 20:28.  The church is described as his body, and Jesus is himself the head of it, Eph. 1:22, 23.  It is this body in which responsible, mature, individuals, must have membership, if they would please God to the saving of their souls.
                It is necessary in this twentieth century to make a distinction that was not necessary in the first century.  Then, there was but one church, the church of Christ, of which we read in the New Testament.  But now, there are hundreds of additional churches, none of which can be found in the pages of God’s book. 
Then, no one would have asked the question: “Of which church must I be a member?”  There was but one, variously designed the church, the churches of God, the churches of Christ, etc. (Col. 1:18; 1 Thess. 2:14; Romans 16:16).  Now, with the existence of so many churches of human origin, with human teaching, and with human governments, the question can be very earnestly asked: “Of which church must I be a member?”
                A multiplicity of churches in addition to the one which God purposed is not God’s will, nor is membership in them is pleasing to Him.  It was (and is) His intent to reconcile all men unto Himself in one body, Eph. 2:14-18.  He is not with the discordant hodge-podge of churches of human-devising existing today, 1 Cor.1:10-13.  God is not the author of such confusion, 1 Cor. 14:33.  There is only one church which is God’s “plant”.  All others will one day be disclaimed, dishonored, and destroyed, for Jesus said: “Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up”, Matt.15:13.
                To be a child in the family of God, a citizen in the kingdom of God, a stone in the temple of God, a member of the body of Christ, and a member of the church of Christ, are all terms indicative of one thing, i.e., being in a saved condition before God.  All are accomplished by one and the same process, which: that the grace of God permits our faith to exercise itself in obedience to the commands of Christ to the salvation of our souls.  We are baptized into one body, 1 Cor. 12:13.  By that same baptism (for there is but one baptism, Eph. 4:5) we are baptized into Christ, Gal. 3:26-27.  In that same baptism we are born of water and of the spirit, thus entering the kingdom of God, John 3:5.
                Although membership in no humanly devised church can profit one at all in the eternal view, membership in the Lord’s church is an absolute necessity for every responsible being who longs for heaven hereafter.  It is so vital that the Bible pictures the Lord himself as presiding at the induction of every obedient believer!  In Acts 2, those sinners who heard the first gospel sermon, believed.  They were told to repent, and to be baptized.  About 3000 gladly received the word, and were baptized.  Verse 47 says: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”