A Saturday Fairy Tale

(This will become a Saturday Series for me; as I am inspired)

Once upon a time, there was a man named Bennie. Bennie was always talked about by the community as a good man. He went to church every Sunday. He could be seen welcoming guests who came to church. He sang in the choir. Whatever the Nominating Committee asked of him, Bennie always said yes. He volunteered for every project and event. His pastor frequently called him “The Salt Of The Earth” kinda man!

One Sunday morning as he was sitting in the choir, Bennie started noticing the other people. He was so caught up in noticing, his heart wasn’t in the choir’s anthem. Music that had stirred his heart was just another habit. He was so caught up in noticing others, that he wasn’t listening to his pastor’s message. He could not help but notice that Fred from work was there. He knew Fred was living with his girlfriend with the proper marriage certificate. After the service was over he congratulated his fellow choir members for another great anthem, though he didn’t remember the name of the song.

Then came the following Sunday and Fred was noticing again. He saw Carol coming into the sanctuary. He thought to himself, “That’s not appropriate clothing for church! She’s showing way too much flesh.” Jim and Betty came in, “Late again!” he muttered to himself. When the offering plate was being passed along he noticed The Widow Jones put in a five-dollar bill. He knew her late husband left her well-off. He thought about that fancy house where she lived. “She could do a whole lot better than a fiver”, he said to himself.

Sunday became Fred’s day of noticing other people. When Henry and Liz came in holding hands as they always did, he remembered, “Wasn’t that Henry’s truck over at Jessica’s house the other night? I believe it was! I KNOW it was! Liz was out of town with her job. And Henry is looking so, so–what’s the term? Smug and self-righteous, that’s the term!” After complimenting his Pastor for another great message, which he never heard because he was noticing people, Fred went home.

That afternoon Fred did a lot, I mean a lot of thinking. He thought to himself, “You know, I’m a whole lot better than all those hypocrites! And after all these years of faithful attendance, I do know a lot about Jesus and the Bible. In fact, I know enough, more than enough, that I don’t need to go to church anymore. Besides, the people are so distracting!”

The very next Sunday, Fred remembered what he thought about the previous Sunday, so he decided to stay home. But something didn’t seem right to him. So he went to his computer and found a different church’s live stream. The musical production was awesome and the preacher was engaging. After watching it, he felt a little better. The next Sunday Fred decided to try attending in person at HIS church. But the distractions persisted and consumed his noticing.

Fred’s attendance became more and more sporadic. He quit the choir and resigned from all the positions that blessed Nominating Committee had put him on. Now, on the Sundays he was attending in person, he watched a variety of churches streaming services. Then he noticed that he didn’t have to watch them live–for his convenience those churches saved those services to watch later.

Since Fred didn’t have to busy himself on Sundays watching worship services, and being his day off, he found other things to occupy his time. He could always watch that streaming service later. Finally, he stopped watching them altogether. And Fred was feeling so much better without being surrounded by all those pitiful church people, or so he thought.

But life changed, as it always does. His Dad died and not a single person from church was there offering love and care. His new friends were there, but their advice was shallow and didn’t help. Then Fred had a crisis at work–he was let go. Again, no one from any church came to his side. Fred was all alone. It made him a little sad–but when he thought about all those hypocrites, what was the name of the church he used to attend? Nevermind! He didn’t need them! He was very content living without those annoying connections with other people.

Fred adjusted very well to his life. He became very self-reliant and self-sufficient. All that talk he had heard about the importance of the Body of Christ in one’s life seemed so foolish to him. How in the world could he be so deceived. He was a bit mad at himself for believing all that baloney! And so Fred lived in isolation for the remainder of his earthly life.

One day death was approaching Fred. He knew it would. In his mind, he reviewed all that huge amount of information he knew from the Bible. He remembered the day he was baptized and joined that church, the name he couldn’t remember–but he was a member there. One night Fred closed his eyes as death came to him. When he opened his eyes again, he expected to see pearly gates, walls of jasper, streets of gold, and his very own mansion that would put Widow Jones’ mansion to shame.

Instead, Fred was in this large room by himself. Not another soul in sight! He was a bit confused because none of this matched what he learned those years he went to church. He thought to himself, “Maybe this is just a waiting room–a holding area–while they do the finishing touches on my mansion. And where are all the people who should already be here?” Not another soul could be seen. He wondered how long he had been in that lonely room. But then he remembered that in eternity there was no such thing as time. But he still wondered, “Where is heaven? Is this heaven?”

Panic set in and Fred screamed out, “What’s going on? What’s this place? It doesn’t look like anything I learned from the Bible! Where all you, God?” A bright light shined, it hurt his eyes, and he heard a voice, the voice of God. “What’s wrong, Fred?” Fred replied, “This doesn’t look like heaven!” God replied, “It’s not.” Fred started to tremble, thinking he was in hell. But he knew this wasn’t like the place he learned about. This time Fred shouted, “This doesn’t look like hell, either!”

It sounded to Fred like God let out a little chuckle. Then God replied, “It’s no.” Frustrated Fred said, “Just then what is this place?” There was silence, and Fred swore he just heard God sigh–it was a deep and sad sigh. “This place”, God replied, “is the place you longed for, sought hard for, and the place on earth you became contented. Fred, this is what you wanted while on earth–so now you have an eternity of it. Being alone.” The end.

The Moral Of The Story

No, this is NOT a lesson on what heaven and hell are about. It’s a lesson about what we desire when it comes to the Community of Faith. There are all kinds of good excuses to avoid being with others in the Body of Christ. Even with her faults and flaws, truth is we need the Body of Christ–the Fellowship Of The Broken Who Need To Be Whole. And the bottom line of The Moral is this: Whatever you desire the most–you will get. So, ask yourself–will it satisfy you for eternity?

And The Verdict Is. . .

As of last night the CDC reports there are 122,653 of confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020 in the United States. This number is up from Saturday evening’s number of 103,321. People in the U.S. are panic buying. It started with toilet paper and hand sanitizer and now it’s milk, bread, eggs and God knows what else. People are scooping up self-rising flour who have never made a biscuit in their life! And the jury has reached a verdict.

Most people in the United States are found GUILTY of Having No Common Sense And Are Acting Stupid! It took the jury only 3 seconds to reach this verdict. When you consider the evidence it is no surprise at all. Just look at the evidence:

  • You ask a student “You have 3 apples and give 1 apple to your friend, how many are left?” and rather than the student imagine 3 apples, take away 1 and count what’s left, which is 1 then 2, 2 apples left, they have replaced it with common core math. To find the answer you take the circumference of Saturn, divide that by the number of species of ducks, multiply that answer by the temperature on the surface of Mercury, then subtract the number of Wal-Marts in the world, divided by 7.68345690 and subtract the number of people who will buy eggs today and Voila! The answer is 2!
  • Participation Trophies! You have achieved greatness by simply being present. Forget effort. Forget skill and ability. Besides, it’s plain meanness to reward success!
  • Entitlement has become the norm. Who needs perseverance? What’s the value in trying and learning from failure? You exist therefore you deserve!
  • Administrators tell teachers, “You have to teach for the state tests. Forget knowledge and wisdom–it’s the scores on those tests that matter most. NOT the students needs, but OUR need to score high on those tests!”
  • Many school systems have taken out vocational/technical schools because it’s more important for the students to go to college in order for them to ask “Would you like a fried apple pie with this order?” The number of high school students who receive a college degree looks great on the paperwork!
  • Speaking of college, OY VEY! Professors have concluded that they are the experts in their fields and are the sole depository of knowledge, and expect their students to be their little minions who perpetuate their jabber and twaddle. (if you don’t know the meaning of twaddle, look it up!) Cemetery Professors, excuse me, that should have been Seminary Professors, are the absolute worst!
  • And parents? OY VEY! OY VEY! OY VEY! They want to be their child’s friend! Great gobbledygook! This is enough evidence by itself to arrive at that Guilty Verdict!
  • Morality, what is right and wrong, good and bad, is determined by the individual rather than proven standards, such as the Bible. They even encourage their children to find their own gender rather than accept what nature gave them.
  • Consequences? What’s that? People are protected from the consequences of their choices and actions. There is always someone else, something else to blame. Oy gevalt! Bupkes! That’s mishegas! It’s bupkes! Go ahead and kvetsh if it makes you feel better! (I love Yiddish!)
  • And finally, it’s more important to be kind than truthful–especially when truth hurts. A president once challenged this nation to be a kinder and gentler nation. Well, people accepted the challenge, and look at the mess we’re in!

Look at this nation now. More and more people are thinking more and more about themselves while thinking less and less about others. I heard one story of a shopper who was buying up milk. The business only allowed 2 gallons to be purchased. So she bought 2 gallons; then went back in a went through the self checkout with 2 more gallons. This continued until she had her minivan full of milk. Another shopper was doing the same with toilet paper until an astute associate saw what she was doing and cut her off!

There was a time when you didn’t need a declaration from the government to stay at home if you were sick. It was called Common Sense and Decency! There was a time when people cared more about others than themselves. There was a time when valor and restraint were considered virtues. There was a time when hard work was noble and the dream people held dear. And there was a time when it was appropriate to call out, in a kind way, stupidity in others. Well. . . what can I say? Too many people are null and void when it comes to common sense–and are stupid, I say, absolutely stupid! They make the 3 Stooges look like clones of Albert Einstein.

Don’t Argue With An Idiot–Tuesday Thoughts

This morning I was thinking about 2 things: Wisdom and Idiots (Proverbs calls them a fool). What prompted these seemingly contradictory things was the controversies in Washington D.C. and in the United Methodist Church. So I turned to a book that has much to say about both–Proverbs, and here is what I found:

We no more give honors to fools than pray for snow in summer or rain during harvest.

Proverbs 26:1 (The Message)

In the book The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews, the second decision needed to be made is this: I will seek wisdom. Here’s a quote that is really speaking to me this morning:

I will seek wisdom. I will choose my friends with care. I am who my friends are. I speak their language, and I wear their clothes. I share their opinions and their habits. From this moment forward, I will choose to associate with people whose lives and lifestyles I admire. If I associate with chickens, I will learn to scratch at the ground and squabble over crumbs. If I associate with eagles, I will learn to soar great heights. I am an eagle. It is my destiny to fly.

“The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews

Yet when I look at our government and my Spiritual Tribe, I see no such seeking for wisdom. What I see and hear are fools, idiots spewing their venom of “I’m right, you’re wrong” perspective. And what “I” want to do is argue with them, showing them where they are wrong! But after the argument I remember this quote supposedly from Mark Twain:

So, today I choose wisdom. Arguing with idiots and fools is just like Solomon said in our Proverb this morning–it’s like praying for snow in the summer; ain’t gonna happen unless you live near one of poles or in high altitudes. It doesn’t make sense. Or like praying for rain during the harvest season–it’s counter intuitive, standing in the way of what you want to achieve.

In the midst of so many fools, take a different route–a “wiser” response. Seek wisdom for yourself. An idiot will not seek nor see wisdom for themselves. But you–rise above the strife of lunacy. Wisdom will help keep you calm, steady and strong. Seek wisdom from God and His Sacred Word. Seek wisdom from those who seek their wisdom from God. Arguing with idiots won’t change anything. Seeking wisdom transforms you–and that wisdom will rise above the dust created by lunacy. Remember, idiots are empowered by our arguing. Seek wisdom, and the idiot becomes impotent.

And love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!