Why Another Blog?

Over the years I have had various experiences in working with people. Some humorous and some not so humorous. If you know me personally, you know I enjoy a good, clean joke. In fact, some will say that it 'sounds like a Raymond joke' when they hear a particular kind.
True humor to me, is that which happens unplanned and unrehearsed. I believe that has contributed to my sanity over the 56+ years of preaching and working with the brethren. To try and have a positive attitude in life, to retain the pleasant and good memories of years past helps one physically, emotionally, and mentally. We read in Proverbs 15:13, "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken". Again in 17:22, "A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones".
I do "love life" (1 Peter 3:10). God is truly my "refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 45:1). I enjoy an "abundant life" because of Jesus Christ, who gave His life for me (John 10:10). I hope you find the following remembrances enjoyable and entertaining.

24 September 2013

Lineville, Alabama

Mondays In Mayberry
Well, Lineville was not Mayberry but the small town that was located near the base of Mt. Cheaha was an idyllic setting back in 1958. After a busy weekend with study and the teaching and preaching at the church of Christ, Monday was my 'off day'. What did I do? Whether I needed a haircut or not, I found myself sitting in a barber's chair with a dear friend and gospel preacher snipping at my hair. That man was Mansel Carpenter, who died recently at the age of 95. He had preached past his 90th birthday anniversary. He would clip a little and we would talk and talk and talk until the lower part of my anatomy was 'dead asleep' from being in that chair so long. Mansel and I would solve all the problems that might have existed in the church during that era of time. He was a great encourager to me and I loved him dearly. Precious memories indeed!

"Be Fruitful, and Multiply, and Replenish the Earth"
In the Lineville church there were two very large families, the Bing Mitchells and the Hubert Browns. Brother and sister Mitchell had 13 children, 11 of them who lived to be 'full grown'. The Browns had 9 children to live to be 'full grown'. Both families were farmers. I remember the time in the fall of the year we went to visit the Mitchells after they had gathered their apple crop. Virginia (a Floridian by birth) could not believe what she was seeing! There were sliced apples on bed sheets, etc. on top of the truck's cab, on top of every out house on the home place. Why, she asked? In years past, that was the way farmers would dry their apples in order to preserve them for the coming winter. Have you ever eaten a homemade pie made from fresh dried apples?

Country 'Baby Food'
One of the Mitchell's children and family lived not far from them. On one visit, there sat a baby girl sitting in her high chair eating 'baby food' in a bowl - sweet milk and corn bread! It must have been good for her because she grew up to be a successful lady in her profession.

'Dem Boneless, Dem Boneless Chickens'
As you entered the Browns' home in the kitchen, there was a pantry that was stocked full of 'canned goods' from the bottom all the way to the top. These good people were true farmers, not having any secular jobs to make money. They lived off the land. For the first time we saw deboned chicken in quart jars. Sister Brown would take fresh eggs to the store in the small community of Barfield and trade them for sugar, coffee and other items that could not be raised on the farm. We ate several times with the Browns and the 'cured ham' from the smoke house was one of my favorite foods that sister Brown would cook. Say, have you ever wondered what 'cured ham' was cured from?

The Old 'Pull the Finger Off' Trick
Now, John and Tim Rice were in my training class the year I preached for the Lineville congregation. One of the tricks I did to keep a kid's attention was to 'pull off' the index finger on my left hand. That impressed those boys. In fact, whenever I have seen John over the years he reminds me that I showed the trick to them way back in 1958. Now, John has added to the trick and makes like he swallows his thumb and it goes down his arm and reappears. I may not be remembered as an orator or one who has memorized the New Testament but every child who has witnessed that 'trick' for the past 55 years remembers the preacher who pulls off his finger! Both John and Tim became gospel preachers and if you have ever been to the Backwoods Christian Camp in Clay County, Alabama, you know John Rice.

22 September 2013

When a Baptism Is Just a Free Bath

It was my first full time work with the Lineville congregation and as a young preacher, I was full of zeal to do as much as I could in laboring with my brothers and sisters in Christ to lead others to Christ. I had not been there very long as I recall when a man and his wife, on their first visit, came forward during the invitation song to confess Jesus Christ and desired to be baptized. Was my first sermon that inspiring and motivating, as well as being informative?! It made my heart feel so good that this couple, no doubt sincere seekers, responded at the first gospel sermon they perhaps had heard. The brethren rejoiced and we all expressed our love and happiness to them. And, if there was anything that we could do for them, we would be more than glad to assist them. And there was.

We collected food for them, along with some clothes and, of course, an amount of money. It was a good day! However, the next news we heard about this couple was that they had joined the First Baptist church the following Sunday and the First Methodist the next Sunday. The experience taught this young preacher that there was a difference between 'ducking' a person in water and scripturally baptizing him.

The 'Upside Down' Songbook

My first full-time preaching job after graduating from Alabama Christian College in 1958 was with the small church in Lineville, Alabama. I began a training class for the young boys prior to the evening worship assembly. I would have them recite a memory verse, make a short speech and lead a song. I would stand behind the young lads and help them get started with their songs and even assisted them in keeping 'time' with their song. One young lad, I think it was either John or Tim Rice, was leading the song when I happened to look down and saw that he had the songbook upside down. So I simply reached over him and turned the book right side up. It was only then that I realized that it did not matter with him how he held the book, he was so young that he could not read the words. He was singing the song from memory!

20 September 2013

Reign or Rain?

It was during my second 'full-time' work as a preacher for a congregation in Garden City (Savannah), GA and during a ladies' weekly Bible class that I asked a simple question about the first king of the 10 northern tribes of Israel. Present and sitting on the front pew in the auditorium were our two small sons. They were busily engaged in playing with some toys when I asked the class, "How long did Jeroboam reign?" Without any hesitation, and before any of the ladies could answer, our oldest replied, "40 days and 40 nights". Of course, his answer caused all of us to enjoy an opportunity to laugh. To say the least, he knew what the Bible story said about it raining for a lengthy period of time!