Beaver

5-19-16

By Jim Reeves

My old pappy used to say, "There ainít a bridge that canít be built, and nary a one that canít be burned down. The burning down generally happens a lot faster than the building." All of us spend a good part of our lives building bridges, relationships, between ourselves and others. Those bridges, those relationships, if they are good, solid relationships, do not get built overnight. They take patience, understanding, give and take, doing two steps forward and sometimes one step back, trust, and so much more.

Sadly, those bridges can often be burned by a careless gesture, a hurtful comment, a wrong thought, by any number of things. The bridges that we burn can seldom be rebuilt, but even if they can be, the process is generally long and seldom exactly the same.

I have been watching and listening to the dynamics of the news that our work center (as well as the other work centers) is closing. I was not in the community all those many years ago when the work center was first placed here, but in listening to the stories, I have gathered that it was a stormy and contentious time. Evidently, there were many who were fearful that all kinds of bad things were going to happen if the town let "those people" move in to circulate around. Strange, I remember exactly the same attitude, right here in this community, back in the 1950ís, when the company my old pappy worked for moved a crew into town to build new oil and gas pipelines for Northern Natural and others. When I went to enroll in school, I can remember being referred to as "oil-field trash" and "trailer trash." I even remember one teacher saying that I was probably retarded, because I couldnít possibly be up with the kids who had gone to school here all their lives.

Isnít it strange how our perception changes after a period of building bridges between ourselves and others, sometimes even "those people." Since the announcement of the closing of our work center, I have heard nothing about anyone being glad that "those people" are leaving. In fact, I have heard over and over again how unfair this closing is to the offenders who have been housed in our community. I heave heard more people talk about how the state is pushing them back into the prison mentality that our work center works so hard to eliminate. I have heard how this ridiculous move on the part of the DOC is going to be hard on the offenders. In other words, these guys have shown us over the years that they are not murderers, rapists, big time criminals. They are people, human beings, who most often made bad choices, usually because of a lack of parental guidance or a lack of exposure to the church.

I remember when we got ready to move on to the next job all those many years ago, that the attitude towards us was totally different. The money generated by the oil and gas industry was now treasured. No longer were we "oilfield trash" or "trailer trash" (at least to most people). I even remember a certain teacher, who six weeks earlier, had thought I surely must be retarded, saying how sad she was that we were moving on, because she was losing one of her best students.

The point to all of this is that it takes effort on the part of all parties to build good bridges, good relationships. I think that all the years with the work center here has resulted in good relationships. Now, evidently, that bridge is about to be burned, through no fault of the community. I hope and pray that all of us in the community can show these guys the same attitude that teacher showed me upon leaving. Weíre going to miss you guys.

Until next week, may God find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

5-12-16

By Jim Reeves

Jesus urges in the Scriptures to strive to be "one with the Father (God)". Most of us would like to be more like God, to have a closer relationship with God. But what does that look like? What does it feel like? What characteristics should we be practicing as we strive to be "one with God"?

This last Sunday, we celebrated Motherís Day. Sermons were preached all over the country (maybe even around the world) on mothers and Motherís Day. Florists did a landslide business in flowers and flower arrangements. The retail stores were full on Saturday with both adults and children who waited until the last minute to look for that special gift for Mom.

My old pappy used to say, "Thereís a world of difference between a woman and a lady, and every female eventually becomes a woman, but it takes a special woman to be a mother." So, letís look for a moment at mothers. I mean real mothers, not just females who happen to give birth to a child, but real mothers. Maybe your mother, whether sheís still living or passed on to her sainthood.

Do you remember falling down as a child and getting a "boo-boo"? You probably jumped up, running to the house, thinking you were just one step away from Heaven. Mom cleaned your wound, maybe put a band-aid on it, kissed it and made it well, gave you a hug and made everything okay. You might have even gotten a cookie and some milk. Mom was there to give you comfort when you hurt. God is there to give you comfort when you hurt. Are you there to give someone else comfort when they hurt?

Do you remember maybe breaking that favorite dish or favorite vase because you were running through the house when you werenít supposed to? You may have thought that she was going to be so angry with you that she would probably rip your head off. Instead, she said it was alright, that whatever it was that you broke could be replaced and she forgave you. When we go to God when we have broken His most precious creation, ourselves, expecting that He is going to be angry, he puts us back together again and forgives us. Do we forgive when someone breaks something special to us, whether itís a relationship or something material?

When you were a child in school, did you ever make one of those little clay bowls or pots in class for Motherís Day? Maybe yours was the ugliest one in the class, but when you gave it to your mother on Motherís Day, she told you it was the most beautiful gift she had ever gotten and she put it in that special place up on a shelf or over the mantle? Maybe years later you found that ugly little bowl or pot still sitting in that special place, covered with dust, long after you had left home or your mother was gone.

God shows us real grace when He takes the ugliest, most insignificant of us and tells us that we are the most beautiful thing Heís ever seen and creates for us that special place. Do you have that kind of grace toward others?

Did you ever come sneaking into the house after curfew, hoping that mother had already gone to bed and you would make it to your room without being noticed, only to find that she was sitting up, waiting for you to come in?

Did you ever hear her say that she couldnít rest until she knew that all her kids were home or safe? God doesnít rest and wonít rest until all of His children are home and safe. Do you have that kind of concern for others?

If I had to think of anyone who was "one with God", I think I would have to pick my mother. Maybe without even realizing it, she showed to me the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness that is God. Perhaps we ought to think of the real mothers, our own and others, who showed us what we need to practice to be "one with God."

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

5-5-16

By Jim Reeves

My old pappy used to say, "If youíre going to spit, make sure youíre not facing into the wind." But he also said, "Son, sometimes when your fighting against the prevailing wind, you just have to put your head down and keep on keeping on." I think that was his way of saying that you have to pick the battles in life that you wonít to fight and sometimes fighting those battles means you have to go against the prevailing wind. It seems that I find myself fighting more of those battles lately than Iíd like to and this may be one of those times.

Down in Texas, the legislators are taking up a bill that is euphemistically being called the "bathroom bill." The South Carolina legislature took up this bill a week or so ago and Oklahoma and other states are sure to not be far behind. Basically, this bill says that if you are not comfortable with the gender that you are and feel you should have been the opposite gender, then you should have the right to use whatever restroom you want to. In other words, boys who think they should have been girls should have the right to use the girlís room and girls who think they should have been boys should have the right to use the boyís room. The ultimate goal of this whole thing is that we will someday have unisex bathrooms.

Now, I have seen horse dung in my day, but this is the biggest pile of horse dung to come down the pike in a long time. This whole idea of thinking that you should have been born the opposite of what you were is so much garbage. Those of you who believe such dribble, listen up: GOD DOESN"T MAKE MISTAKES! If you think He did, then maybe you ought to apply for the position and then you can do whatever you want to! (Good luck with that.)

The fact is that God made men and women different for a reason and itís called reproduction (although, I am beginning to suspect in some cases that reproduction may have gone too far). If God had intended for all of us to use the same restroom, He would have given us all the same plumbing and those of you who are unhappy with being what you are wouldnít even be around.

This idea of same-sex restrooms may be alright with some of the very young, but somehow I donít think a seventy-year old woman is going to be happy with a twenty-year old male being in the same restroom with her at the same time. The ladies room is one of the few private places in which women can go to take care of ablutions without fear of some male butting in where he is not wanted. (Excuse the pun.) There may be a certain amount of gossiping going on in the ladies room, but that, too, is a female privilege in which men ought not to be interfering.

I am simply amazed that, in the midst of all the things that are wrong with our society, we are wasting valuable time and effort deciding which restroom people should be able to use. With the economy in the toilet (oops, there I go again), the number of homeless and hungry people growing and the political scene being nothing more than a wet cow chip throwing contest, I would think we have better things to concentrate on.

For those who are not sure which gender they are, let me give you an update: you donít have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. To those who want to push your sick and perverted agenda down the throats of everyone else simply because you think one of your genes might have had a little too much to drink before your birth, enough is enough. Those of us who have lived a longer than you have and who are comfortable with who we are and more importantly what we are, enough is enough. If you want to have unisex bathrooms, move to Amsterdam and you can have them. Instead of trying to change something that the majority of folks are happy with, go mark your territory behind some tree or bush. Just make sure youíre out of sight of the rest of us.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

4-28-16

By Jim Reeves

Thereís something about living in the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas. If you were not born in this region, or unless you have not lived here most of your life, you truly cannot appreciate what it means to live here. If there was ever an area that still displays the pioneer spirit, it has to be the panhandle region.

This past weekend, my wife and I traveled to Fort Worth for our daughterís wedding. No, we didnít need passports to go there and back, but it was almost like traveling to a foreign country. Once we crossed the Red River south of Altus, the effects of the recent heavy rains were obvious. The grass was a lush green, the wheat crops were up one to three feet high, and all the trees were in full bloom. Trying to skirt around Fort Worth on a couple of farm to market roads, we found ourselves being turned back by signs that read, "Road closed, under water." The Trinity River in places looked to be a mile or more in width.

Then Saturday evening, we returned to Beaver County. Once we passed Sayre coming north, you could tell we were getting closer to the Panhandle. The lush green started giving way to lighter greens and then to brownish green and finally to brown. However, it was the wind that served to remind us that we were getting closer to "home". By the time we reached our house out at the Mountain View cemetery, the wind was blowing hard. In fact, unloading the pickup, the wind actually knocked me down twice.

For people who have never lived in this region, who are just passing through or being transferred here for the first time, it is the wind that strikes them the most (no pun intended). We jokingly say that the wind really isnít blowing around here until it gets up to 25 mph or better. Anything less than that is just a breeze. We also like to say that the wind doesnít blow all the time and we truly enjoy the five or six days a year when it isnít blowing.

I think it may be the wind most of all that makes living in the panhandles truly a pioneering experience. Living here is not for the faint-hearted or the weak. It truly takes resilience to face the bitter cold that can come with winter and the blistering heat of the summers, all tempered with the ever-present wind. I recently read a pictorial history of the dust bowl and its effects on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and over and over again the pictures were of people walking, working or simply standing in the wind and dust. They are pictures of people who did not turn their backs to the wind, but rather turned their faces into the wind, and with heads down, they kept moving forward. Sure, some chose to pack up and leave for areas like California or Arkansas, but so many stayed. For me, those decisions to stay and tough it out make up the stuff that pioneers are made of.

Early explorers of this region dubbed it the "Great American Desert." Early geographers claimed that the area would never sustain continued habitation by any group other than the Indians. Well, they were wrong then and that has been proven by the persistence of those who have struggled to make this area their home. They have been knocked down and gotten back up so many times that they have come to accept it as a part of life. They know the trials of hard work, they donít complain or whine, and they tend to be self-sufficient. Like the wind, they are ever-present, willing to change and close to the earth. Truly, pioneers.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

4-21-16

By Jim Reeves

I often read the "Serenity Prayer" by the great theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Most people are not aware that the prayer is longer than most of us think.. Typically, we read the part that says, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Now, while those words are indeed powerful and deeply meaningful, so is the rest of the prayer. It goes like this: "Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace: taking, as Jesus did, this

sinful world as it is; not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen."

Too many people spend a lifetime being frustrated, angry, revengeful and even spiteful over things they cannot change. Especially the people around us. Oh, we might have some influence in changing another personís life (bringing them to a knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus, for example), but for the most part, we cannot change another person. So, what should we do? The commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself" says it all.

We are to love others, all others, just as we are to love ourselves. Jesus didnít say, "Love those who believe the same way you do," nor did He say, "Love those that are the same color as you, go to the same church as you, belong to the same clubs as you, drive the same car as you, etc, etc., etc.," The commandment is to love all people, EVERYONE!

This is where the first part of the Serenity Prayer plays such an important part: We are to stop being frustrated at the people and events that we cannot change! I wish that politicians would really listen to the people who elect them. Will they ever? Probably not.

I wish the weather forecasters could get the weather right more than 10% of the time. Will they ever? Probably not. I wish that we could return to a lot of the things we knew in the "Good Old Days". Will it ever happen? Maybe, but I shouldnít be frustrated about it.

The second part of the Serenity Prayer is the part that we really should focus on: the courage to change the things I can. In Ted Kennedyís eulogy for his brother Robert, he said of his brother, "He had the courage to see the world, not as it is, but as it can be. He saw the world and instead of asking ĎWhy, he dared to ask why not?í" Everyone wants to complain about the way things are, but few are willing to dare to try and change the way things are. Few will have the courage to stand up and say, "Why canít we have a better world? Why canít we ask for honesty and integrity in our leaders? Why canít we get along better?" These are things we could be changing, demanding to be changed and no longer just accepting. Too many people are willing to opt out of any responsibility by using the trite old question, "What difference can I make? What good does it do for me to try?"

While the rest of the Serenity Prayer says to trust that God will make things right (and He will), God Himself calls on us to help in making things right. He calls on us to act. He calls on us to share and to give of ourselves. He calls on us to question the things we believe are wrong and fight for the things we believe are right. He calls on us to endure the struggle to do these things and the Serenity Prayer reminds us that this struggle we call life is not easy, but in the end our struggle will bring us peace.

So, as I write this, I am reminded of the great song, "One Day At A Time." All Iím asking for, Lord, is one day, this day, to try and hit a lick for what is right, to make a difference in the world, to do what I have to do. To pick and choose the battles that I have a chance to win and to fight those battles with all that I am and all that you, Lord, have given to me.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

4-14-16

By Jim Reeves

This Wednesday, in the midst of our Cow Chip week activities, our church (First Presbyterian Church) will host the "Old-Fashioned Worship Service". It has, over the last few years, become our largest service of the year, surpassing the Easter and Christmas services.

I have been noticing lately that the term "old-fashioned" is showing up in more and more places. One company advertises "old-fashioned ice cream", another "old-fashioned hamburgers" while still another covers a lot with its advertisement of "old-fashioned service". I have started wondering why the term "old-fashioned" is seemingly becoming more popular.

A number of years ago, a very popular book was published entitled, "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten". The idea was and I think still is, that for all our technological advances, the simple things we need to know to get along in life were learned in Kindergarten. Kids learned how to line up without cutting in front of others (courtesy), how to raise your hand when you wanted to ask a question (politeness), how to say "yes maíam" and "no maíam" (respect), how to wait your turn, how to get along with others, and a whole host of other simple, basic rules which may have had the primary purpose of preparing kids for the next twelve years of school, but they are also simple, basic rules for getting along in life.

If the first sixteen years of this new century are any indication of how the remaining eighty-four years are going to go, I can only think "God help us all." The simple rules for getting along with others seem to be going by the wayside more and more. Our vocabulary is sprinkled with new terms like "road rage", which is nothing more than a lack of courtesy and respect. Our jails and prisons are overflowing with men and women who had little or no parental supervision or training in the simple precepts of right and wrong. Respect for teachers, the police or firefighters, for those in authority, all seem to be disappearing.

The greatest of these disappearing "old-fashioned" ideas, to my way of thinking, is responsibility. When I was growing up, my parents instilled in me the idea of responsibility for my own actions. If I did poorly on a test or some other activity in school, I didnít blame the teacher. We had a simple rule in my home: If you got a busting at school, you got one when you got home. (Ooops, Iím sorry. We canít bust kids anymore because Dr. Spock told us we might damage their poor psyches). I only got one or two bustings at school, but I can certainly tell you I got quite a few at home, and I can definitely say that none of them damaged my psyche. (Shoot, we didnít even know what a psyche was)

I can tell you that I knew how to say "yes, maíam, no maíam, yes, sir and no sir." I knew that I was to respect my parents always because early on, my dad told me, "As long as you put your feet under my table, you will do what I tell you to." I learned to say grace before the meal because I wasnít going to eat if I didnít. I learned to open doors for women and the elderly, to take my hat off indoors and at the dinner table.

The night I graduated from High School, my dad shook my hand and said, "Son, my responsibility to you is over." At the time, I thought that was the meanest thing he could have said to me. Only later did I realize that he was saying that it was time that I became a man and took responsibility for my own way in life. Again, Dr. Spock and maybe a lot of our "new age" thinkers might believe that it was damaging to my psyche, but I like to think things have turned out okay.

All of this is to say that maybe the return to the "old-fashioned" things in life is simple a way of trying to find the things that we can be comfortable with and sure in. I can only hope that "old-fashioned" doesnít get buried along with the "ancient and forgotten."

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

 

4-7-16

By Jim Reeves

I am constantly amazed at what people will file lawsuits over. In Florida (you gotta remember that, depending upon which way the country is tilted, all the nuts either roll to California or Florida) an atheist recently filed a lawsuit against Christians and Jews (wonder why he left out the Muslims) claiming discrimination because Christians and Jews had religious holidays and there no special holiday for atheists.

The judge listened to the lawyer representing the atheist and immediately dismissed the case. When the lawyer objected, the judge pointed out that April 1st is called April Foolís Day and that the Scriptures say, "Only a fool says there is no God." Therefore, the judge said he was dismissing the case on the grounds that he believed that atheists have a religious holiday on April 1st. You gotta love that judge!

One of the points to this story is that people are willing to file frivolous lawsuits claiming discrimination for just about anything. I had a Muslim inmate just this last week accuse me of discriminating against Muslims because I wouldnít volunteer to go to the prison and sit in the chaplainís office (which is empty because the state says they have no money) just so the Muslims can have their worship time. Even though I pointed out that, as a volunteer, I can determine how often and when I want to go to the prison, this person just wouldnít let go of the idea that I was discriminating against his group. As ridiculous as this sounds, itís just the kind of thing that winds up in a lawsuit.

A school childís parents recently filed a discrimination suit against the school district and their childís teacher because their child wasnít getting good grades like other students. When the teacher pointed out that the child wouldnít do homework, wouldnít work in class, and didnít study for tests (therefore failing those tests), the parents claimed it wasnít their fault or their childís fault, it was the fault of the teacher.

Come on, letís get real. All of these idiotic lawsuits claiming discrimination are meant for one of two things. The first is that the person filing the lawsuit is hoping to get a lot of money or two, itís the fact that the whole idea of discrimination is to try and say that we should all be exactly alike.

When the Supreme Court is to hear a case against a baker because they wouldnít bake a cake for the wedding of a gay couple, we have a situation where one group who is different because of their sexual preferences are, in essence, saying that all of the rest of us should fall in line with their views or face possible lawsuits for discrimination.

You have to wonder how long it is going to be before some nut files a lawsuit against God, claiming discrimination, because God didnít make them as smart as, as tall as, as thin as, or as beautiful as someone else. I would love to see God show up for that suit!

As a pastor, if I choose not to perform same-sex marriages (which I choose not to), Iím opening myself up for a discrimination lawsuit. Okay, so I have a choice. I could say that I will just stop performing marriage ceremonies completely or I can run the risk of being sued. Well, the Scriptures very plainly say that being a Christian (and especially a Christian minister) is not always going to be easy and that we may even have to face possible persecution. So be it.

Until next week, may God find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

3-31-16

By Jim Reeves

It is a sign of the times we are living in. While in a convenience store seconds after the bombing in Brussels, watching it on TV, someone behind me asked the question, "What is wrong with our world?" Gee, thatís a sixty-four thousand dollar question if I ever heard one. Iíll give you and that individual asking the question a simple answer, "Nobody is listening."

There is a beautiful line in an old Kris Kristofferson song that goes, "When you waste your time explaining that the things that they complain about are things they could be changing, who do you think gonna hear?" I have been telling the readers of this column for weeks whatís wrong with our world. I preach it often from the pulpit and believe me when I say that I often doubt that anyone is listening.

Everyone, hear this: The things that you complain about are things YOU could be changing. This world is in the shape itís in, not because of Mother Nature, or fate or certainly, not because of God. It is in the shape itís in because of PEOPLE. Thatís right, people just like you and me, people who put their pants on the same way we do, people who eat, sleep, get up and go to work, raise children and pay bills.

The God who created us in His image, did not create us to hate each other, to cause pain to others, to be divided because of race, creed, color, national origin or religious preference. God created us to love each other. Most of us remember going through school when we often repeated the Golden Rule, when we prayed every morning, when we said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Now we want to complain about everything from Obamacare to the stale bread that the school served our kids today. We want to complain about the government who isnít doing enough for us, having to get up and go to work in the morning, taxes that are too high, the weather, the wind and every other imaginable thing. We have become a world of whiners.

Isis and other Islamic groups want to complain because they say they are Allahís chosen people and the rest of the world is evil. Well, I am sorry, but any God who tells people that itís alright to kill mass groups of people simply and solely because they hold different beliefs isnít a God at all. I do not wish to serve a God who espouses such trash.

The God I know taught us to love one another as we love ourselves. Okay, all you radical groups, if you want me to pay attention to you, to give you the respect you keep demanding, then listen up. If you want love, give love. Blowing up subways and airports and killing innocent people isnít showing love. Neither is it showing respect for Allah or whatever your God might be. These are the acts of sick people, plain and simple. I am willing to extend the right hand of fellowship to all people. Now, what are you willing to do?

Until next week, may God find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

3-17-16

By Jim Reeves

Every now and then my brain gets rowdy and I start thinking about possibilities that probably will never happen, but could possibly happen. So I would like to present my predictions that will likely never come true, but could possibly happen in 2016 and 2017.

In the world of politics: Donald Trump will win the election in November and immediately began building seventy stories on top of the White House. He will rent the new addition out for penthouses and offices for lobbyists (thus the White House will truly be UNDER the influence). He will also change the name to the Trump House.

Bill Clinton will divorce Hillary and marry Monica Lewinsky. They will move to the Figi Islands and live in a grass hut on the beach.

Hillary will be so devastated that she will marry Bernie Sanders. They will move to Bald Knob, Arkansas and open Bubbaís Bar-B-Que Pit and Beer Barn where the eveningís entertainment will be a dart tournament. Ex-husband Billís picture will be in the center of each target. Hillary will live out the remainder of her life wearing overalls, no shoes and chewing tobacco.

Chelsea Clinton will announce that she is running for President in 2030. That gives you something to look forward to.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will lead a revolution to overthrow the government of Cuba and start their own country.

Isis will start a world-wide chain of doughnut shops as a new front in their Holey War. (Did you catch that?)

Donald Trump will pick Jay Leno as his vice-president because they have the same hair-do and no one would be able to tell them apart.

In the sports world: Jerry Jones will move his team to San Antonio and rename them the San Antonio Vaqueros. Each concession stand in the new stadium will be a taco stand.

Brett Favre will come out of retirement to lead the Denver Broncos and Payton Manning will become a professional hockey player.

In the business world: FedEx and UPS will merge. The new company will be known as Fed-Up.

McDonaldís, Burger King and Wendyís will merge into a new company known as McQueenís and the menu will be replaced by a Sushi bar. Ronald McDonald will be retired in favor of a little red-headed girl in pigtails.

Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target will merge into a new store called WTK and a recorded voice of Sam Walton will announce the blue light specials.

The penny will disappear from our currency because it currently costs fifty cents to make a penny. Duh, could that possibly be the reason we are going in the hole? How many rocket scientists do we have working for the government.

Remember that all of these predictions more than likely will never happen, but as my old Pappy used to say, "In the mental institution, all things are possible."

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

3-10-16

By Jim Reeves

I have watched with sadness at the way this election year has gone and how it appears that it will continue to go. Sadness, because I hope that the manner in which all of you have handled yourselves in the debates (on both sides) is not an indication of the way in which the mentality of this country is going. I would have had more fun and gotten more substance out of going to Bubbaís BBQ and Beer Barn in Bald Knob, Arkansas to watch a good old-fashioned barroom brawl.

It appears that all any of you know how to really do is to denigrate each other with name-calling, smirky smiles, and innuendos. You have insulted each others spouses, families, birth-places, educational levels and all manner of other things.

Hear me and hear me well. None of you deserve to win this election based on what I have seen so far. None of you are presidential material. None of you are leaders and wouldnít know true leadership if it bit you in the rear. What you are is a bunch of mouthy school children out on the playground, calling each other names and threatening.

If you want to be a leader, for goodness sake, practice leadership. Mr. Trump, you are a master at sneering, jeering, smirking and name-calling, but you donít know squat about the political and economic needs of this country. I have watched you in every debate and you have yet to give a concrete answer to any question. I want so bad for some moderator to ask you for a yes or no answer to a question, so that I can watch you dance around the issue without really answering anything. To the rest of the candidates, give us a true vision of what this country can achieve. Quit blaming each other for the problems we are having, Believe me, the common folks out here in America know what the problems are and quite frankly, we could care less about who is at fault. Both parties are to blame. What we want is a concrete plan for getting us out of the mess we are in.

Just so you donít think youíre getting by with anything, Hillary, let me say that you arenít doing any better than the Republicans. In fact, this is the first time in my memory that you really canít tell the Democrats from the Republicans. I think youíre all in the same bed.

I remember the election between Richard Nixon and Jack Kennedy and I remember so well, that first ever televised debate. Richard Nixon couldnít do anything but sweat. Kennedy, on the other hand, displayed the assurance of true leadership. He was confident in himself, in his ability and in his belief that he could truly lead this country to a higher level of greatness.

I remember the stirring words of Kennedyís inaugural address when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." In his short term, he inspired my generation to believe in themselves, to set high standards of achievement and to meet those standards.

When he challenged us to put a man on the moon, we had no doubt that we could do it. Thatís the kind of leadership this country needs today. Instead, what we are getting is promises of free education, free medical services, more welfare, more Social Security, more entitlements. Once and for all, we need to hear from our leaders that nothing is really free, that sooner or later, someone has to pay the piper. We are facing the greatest probability of economic collapse that this country has ever faced and all we can get from either party is finger-pointing, name-calling, and a lot of empty rhetoric.

We need a leader who will stand up and tell us that we have to tighten our belts, set a flat tax so that everybody pays proportionately, limit terms in office for all elected officials, set realistic immigration limits, encourage new businesses, resurrect the work ethic that made this country strong and return to a basic belief in the moral right and wrong. If you want to be a leader, for goodness sake, lead!

To all of you, I would paraphrase Kennedyís inaugural remarks, "Ask not what your country can do for you, do instead what you can best do for your country, quit running for the presidency."

Until next week, may God find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

3-3-16

By Jim Reeves

The following statement has been written concerning the Constitution of the United States: "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take up arms....The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Care to guess who made that statement? No, it was not a member of the Black Panthers or some radical Islamic group or even some radical survivalist group. It was made by Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, a man who is so highly thought of in our history that his likeness has been carved in stone on the face of Mount Rushmore.

Jefferson was alleging that it is the right of the American people at any time to revolt against the government. In fact, Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that it sometimes becomes necessary for one group to "throw off the bonds" imposed upon them by a bad government (in this case, the British).

It is interesting that this little known or touted idea is a fundamental part of who we are as Americans. It is also interesting that the idea of a new revolution to overthrow the government is gaining in popularity. Almost a third of the fifty states have passed legislation calling for a Constitutional Convention to rewrite the Constitution. The fact is that if thirty-four states can pass such legislation, our current Constitution calls for such a thing to happen.

Proponents of a new Constitutional Convention want to write into a new Constitution provisions for the definition of marriage (to exclude same-sex marriages), place into law a flat tax, require a balanced budget, provide protection for the church, end the debate over gun control and generally to limit the power of the Federal government, especially the use of the Executive Order. They also want a provision that no federally elected official could serve more than eight years.

While I would not advocate an armed revolution, I can and would in fact support a Constitutional Convention if that convention were convened to include the above provisions.

I am a strong advocate of the Second Amendment and wish we could end once and for all, the debate over gun control. I believe the definition of marriage should be in line with the Biblical definition of what marriage should be. I support the idea of one tax rate that everyone would pay under a flat tax provision and doing away with the IRS. Requiring by Constitutional law that we have a balanced budget would eliminate a lot our problems with welfare abuse, Obamacare and a host of other programs.

As to the use of Executive Order, our current president has become little more than a dictator, proclaiming that he has a pen, a phone and a pair of scissors. Ignoring the Constitutional mandates that we now have is not leadership, it is dictatorship. Perhaps this is the reason so many people are disillusioned by the political system.

A poll conducted just two weeks ago indicated that 83% of those polled want to elect a president that has never held an office or at least has held an office only in the last five years. In other words, the majority of Americans want an outsider. Over 50% favored turning out every elected official and electing new blood to every elected office. Jeb Bush was so soundly thrashed in the primaries, partly because a majority of those voting viewed him as a part of the old establishment politicians who have gotten us into the mess we are in. If a new Constitution prohibited any elected official from serving more than eight years and provided for the popular election of the Supreme Court, some of those problems might go away. Food for thought.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

2-25-16

By Jim Reeves

When I was a child, I used to like watching the wrestling matches on the local channels out of Lubbock or Amarillo whenever we were in the area. I grew up watching Dory Funk, Sr., the Funk brothers, Fritz Von Erich, Iron Mike and others, thinking that those guys really hated each other and loved to beat up on each other every week. Then one day, we were traveling from Lubbock toward Amarillo and this car pulled up alongside us in the passing lane and there were the Funks, Von Erich and Iron Mike, all traveling in the same car, drinking beer and laughing like old lost friends.

It was then that I realized that wrestling (at least what was called "pro" wrestling) was going the way of Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. It was fake, staged, simply entertainment. Those same guys who were riding in that car together wrestled that night at the Natatorium in Amarillo and you would have thought they were going to kill each other. Granted, they were probably better than average athletes to be able to stage those matches and make them look real, but thatís it, they were staged.

Watching the last Republican debate, I had a Deja Vu moment when I suddenly thought of those wrestling matches all those years ago. To listen to Trump, Cruz and Rubio, calling each other liars and other names, you would have thought they hated each other. Yet, they probably had been sitting in a holding room just prior to the start of the debate, drinking tea or coffee, and chatting with each other about how the wife and kids were doing.

The whole thing had a feeling of being staged, fake, put on simply for the entertainment of the audience. Only two of the candidates had the common sense to say, "Isnít this ridiculous? Is this kind of arguing what you really want to hear?"

The answer is no. The debates are supposed to be about substance, about real-life issues such as taxes, government spending, the economy, immigration, military spending, terrorism, and a host other issues. Yet, there was little or no substance at all. One might ask the question, why?

One reason is that the Republicans are not running their own debates. The liberal media is and those who are asking the questions have figured out that the viewing audience wants entertainment, not real answers to real questions about real problems. So, the liberal media is driving the train, and the Republican candidates are letting them.

This election is perhaps one in which the greatest deciding factor may be to vote for the party that is the least offensive, the lesser of two evils. Not since the race between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey have both candidates really been unworthy of the office of president. Neither candidate in that election caused any enthusiasm in the voters and this election is rapidly shaping up to follow that same pattern.

This election is one in which the greatest problem for the Republicans is not Hillary or Bernie Sanders, but the fact that they have to be careful not to shoot themselves in the foot and give the election away.

To avoid doing that, the candidates must take charge of their own debates. They have to stop trying to kill each other off like the Valentineís Day massacre and start focusing on the issues. They have to stop the questions from the moderators that are designed to start personality attacks and look at the cameras head-on and talk about the issues that are really concerning Americans. If they donít, this may be an election in which the majority of the voters simply wonít turn out because they are so disgusted and fed up with the infighting that they just donít care. That would be the greatest disaster of all. Never before will it be more vital for the voters to turn out and express their desires than in November.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

2-18-16

By Jim Reeves

Sowing, watering, working, reaping? What role do you play? Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:5 and elsewhere that there are some who sow the seeds, some who water the seed and others who work the soil, but ultimately it is God who reaps the harvest.

Letís bring this down to a level that all of us can understand. Henry Ford made his fortune once he discovered the idea of the moving assembly line. Prior to that time, one man or maybe a small team of men would build an entire automobile from scratch to finished product. It was time-consuming, slow, costly and generally ineffective.

Along came the idea of the assembly line where the product moved, but not the workers. Each worker was given a specific task and that task was the only one that worker was responsible for. Maybe it was putting the lug nuts on the right front tire of each unit as it passed by. This system proved to be much more productive than the old way of doing things.

However, there were some problems that developed and they are problems that still plague the assembly idea even today. The first is that boredom can quickly set in if all you do all day is put the lug nuts on the right front tire of every unit that passes by. Another problem is that the assembly line process doesnít foster a sense of accomplishment or success. Itís hard to say, "I built that automobile", when all you did was put the lug nuts on the right front tire.

What does all of this have to do with sowing, watering, working, reaping? Simply put, our role in life is to be the best at what we are good at and not to try and do everything ourselves. The church is a prime example of this idea. I learned a long time ago that I am not the best at being a youth director, I certainly canít play an instrument, and I barely can sing. But fortunately, I can do some other things. Every now and then I preach a good sermon. I do very well in prison ministry. I can write fairly well and I occasionally have a profound idea.

The last time we had a fifth Sunday (which was in January), we had an all-singing service for our worship. We had no bulletin (which drove some people nuts), we called out hymn numbers from the congregation (which allowed everyone hopefully to hear their favorites) and we were very loose and informal. Someone asked if we still had an offering during an all-singing service and someone else said, "Are you wanting to have an all-singing service so you donít have to preach"? Well, let me assure you that we had an offering.

When we came to the sermon time, I performed a miracle (well, for me it was a miracle). I did a 30 second sermon. In fact, it was so shocking, that when I said "Amen", my lovely wife even blurted out, "Thatís it?" Yes, my dear, that was it. Thirty seconds.

Whatís the point? My old pappy sometimes would say, "The best messages are those that are like military showers. Get in, Get done, and Get out. Three minutes at max." An older and much wiser preacher friend of mine, once said, "Preach the gospel and if necessary, use words."

That thirty-second sermon may not have said much, and yet it may have spoken volumes. If it did nothing else, it planted a seed, hopefully in the minds of several. Each of us can plant a seed, and it often doesnít take much. Much time or much effort. Paul tells us in his writings to practice patience, tolerance, kindness, love, forgiveness, mercy, grace and a whole list of other things. These are the seeds that each and every one of us are given. What we do with those seeds is up to us.

We can practice tolerance of others in everything we do. The toughest lesson for us to learn in todayís society is that it is not about us. For all our modern gadgetry, which should have given us more time to spend interacting with others, those technologies sadly have caused us to focus inward, to withdraw from the world around us. It saddens me to see people sitting next to each other and texting each other rather than talking face to face.

Today, each of us can find out what we are good at in making our world a better place. Maybe itís planting the seed of kindness. Maybe itís watering that seed through several acts of kindness. Maybe it working, practicing kindness by being open to the needs of others. Whatever your talent is, donít be like the world around you, turning inward, but rather turn outward. Give and you shall receive. Donít wait, like the assembly line worker, for someone to pass by you. Be like the craftsman and go find someone.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

2-11-16
 

By Jim Reeves

Predictions. Trying to figure out how something is going to turn out before it happens. My old pappy used to say that the only good thing about predictions is that you had a fifty percent chance of being right and a fifty percent chance of being wrong.

The weather and politics are two areas that are dangerous to talk about and almost as dangerous to predict. Take that groundhog Phil, up in Pennsylvania. This year, supposedly he predicted an early spring. First of all, I didnít hear the groundhog say anything. Some human spoke for him. What does he do, translate groundhogese into English? What if he got it wrong? The groundhog didnít see his shadow. Duh! It was snowing and gray overcast. That rodent couldnít have seen his shadow if he had wanted to.

Old timers in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma will tell you that you donít count winter over until at least Easter and even then, itís iffy. Iíve seen it snow on Motherís Day in Lubbock, Texas and there is even a recorded incident in the late 1880ís where it snowed in Amarillo on the 4th of July. Maybe only for fifteen minutes or so, but nonetheless, it snowed. That will put a wrinkle in your knickers.

Then there is politics. The political prognosticators say that the Iowa caucuses are a good predictor of how the race will go all the way to the conventions. If thatís the case, Iíll bet there was some constipation in the political camps after the last Iowa fiasco.

First, Hillary had predicted that she was going to win by a landslide. Imagine her surprise when she comes out neck to neck with Sanders. (Thatís a scary picture: Hillary and Sanders neck to neck. Erase. Nightmare on Elm Street).

On the Republican side, everyone had predicted that the polls were right and that Trump would win by a wide margin. He barely manages to come in a weak second behind Cruz. The Trump campaign said it was because the Evangelicals voted against him, thinking that he didnít pray enough or believe in God. I donít think the evangelicals voted according to their religious feelings at all. If they had, then Carson should have won since he has been most vocal about his religious beliefs. I am beginning to wonder if there is an evangelical vote at all. It would seem that voters on the Republican side simply felt that Trump doesnít have what it takes to go against Hillary in November, and frankly, neither do I.

Yogi Berra, the late great Yankee catcher, whom I admire very much, had a really good saying, "The opera isnít over till itís over." As far as the weather is concerned, that opera will never be over. In spite of all our modern gadgetry and sophistication, we are not much better off at predicting the weather than we were back in the days of arthritic predicting. Mother Nature is going to do what Mother Nature wants. It reminds me of that old TV ad, "Itís not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

When it comes to the political opera, itís more like the old TV soap operas. Thankfully, there will come a time when the political opera will end, at least for this year. Like the old TV soap operas, though, where there were more twists and turns than a rattlesnake crossing the road on a 100 degree day, I still think there are twists and turns coming in this yearís political opera that are going to be so strange that not even the best predictors can imagine. That, in and of itself, is a very scary thought.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

1-28-16
 

By Jim Reeves

Ask yourself a question. If you were on the ground in Benghazi, would you trust Hillary Clinton to have your back? Four people, two of them Navy seals, did. They all died.

In l996, America was asking the question, "Mr. President, did you or didnít you?" The answer we got was, "I did not have sex with that woman.

In 2015, America was asking the question, "Madame Secretary, did you or did you not know that the security in Benghazi was lacking?" The answer we got was, "Well, it really doesnít matter now, does it?"

Well, to all the battered, abused, and sexually mistreated women and to the four brave Americans who died in Libya, yes, Mrs. Clinton, it does matter.

Now, before anyone gets the idea that itís just picking on the Democrats, let me say that it is happening on the Republican side just as much. This election is not about immigration, or the economy or national security. Plainly and simply, itís about telling lies to try and get votes. Of all the people still in the race for president, both sides are just as guilty. During the last Republican debate, Governor Christie and Marco Rubio told so many lies, they made national headlines.

Most of us who paid attention during our American history classes remember the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. When asked if he had cut down the cherry tree, George didnít say, "I did not have a relationship with that tree" and he didnít say, "Well, dad, it really doesnít matter now, does it?" Instead, he stood up like a man (your gender doesnít excuse you, Hillary), spoke up and said, "I cannot tell a lie, I did it." He told the truth, and took his punishment. George Washington carried that standard of character and integrity all the way through his administration as the first president, and America pretty much set that standard as the benchmark for presidents and candidates all the way up to Lyndon Johnson.

I say Lyndon Johnson because I distinctly remember him facing the cameras during his campaign and saying, "I will not commit more troops to the conflict in Vietnam." After the election, I also remember getting my notice to report for my physical and induction, and I just as distinctly remember thinking, "Mr. President, what happened to that promise?"

Richard Nixon, of course, set the record (whether you consider it to be a high point or a low point) for not telling the truth, a record that stood until the current president came along. Not telling the truth seems to have become the norm for our politicians. They are the one group that is actually worse at not telling the truth than the weathermen.

(Well, thatís a whole different story.)

Right now, a one-eyed monkey hanging from a ten cent balloon is more likely to tell the truth than anyone currently running, that is if you could even understand the monkey. The way things are I would be willing to vote for the monkey.

What I really would like to see is one person who would stand up and say, "Look, I am a human being just like all of you voters. I have made mistakes, I make mistakes and I will most likely make more mistakes. I probably have even shaded the truth some, but thank goodness, I am forgiven. What I can promise you is that I will do my dead-level best to be the best president that I can be and ask for your forgiveness when I am not. I will not knowingly lie to you and I will do my best to see that you sleep safe at night."

If one of the candidates would do that, I would instantly support that one and most likely would vote for them. The chances of that happening? About as good as a one-eyed monkey hanging from a ten-cent balloon throwing their hat in the ring.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

1-21-16

By Jim Reeves

I just finished reading an article where the city of New Orleans had "seceded from the South" because the city council had voted to remove all confederate statues, plaques, flags and any other symbols from city properties. Their reasoning was that the city did not want in any way to appear racist or support any racist way of thinking.

Come on now. First off, I want to assure anyone and everyone that I am not a racist nor do I support any kind of racist activity. However, I can say that I do have some prejudices and one of the biggest prejudices that I have is against stupidity. Where has our sense of common sense gone? Out the window?

This action by the city council of New Orleans is nothing short of simple stupidity. A statue on the site of the Battle of New Orleans depicting a confederate soldier is about as racist as my pet Jack Russell dog. Itís a part of the history of this country that there was a Civil War, that there were Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers, that battles were fought and yes, even that part of the underlying reasons for the Civil War were over the issue of slavery.

One of the things that I pray in my Manna Prayer everyday is that the past is but a memory. What happened over a hundred years ago is just history and nothing more. It may have been somewhat racist in 1861, but the cold, hard fact is that the Civil War was fought over much deeper issues that the ownership of one race by another. The greatest issue of the Civil War was not about slavery, but rather it was about the right of any state or states to pull out of the Union if that state disagreed with the policy or policies of the Federal government.

Fast forward to 2015. Over half of the fifty states last year had movements within those states to pull out of the United States and go their own separate way. Half of the counties in Colorado actually had a vote to secede. Was that in any way racist? Absolutely not and only some idiot with about two-thirds of their brain cells missing would have thought so. The overwhelming point to all of this discussion about banning flags or taking down statues because they are racist is ridiculous.

If I proposed to ban the wearing of crimson red shirts with OU written on the pockets, would some nut say that was being prejudiced against Oklahoma University? Probably and rightfully so, but no more that someone wanting to ban the orange colors of OSU or the University of Texas.

We need to understand that prejudices and racism are about attitudes of the heart and mind and not about symbols, especially those things that are historic. Many of those who fought for the Confederacy never owned a single slave. In fact, some of those who fought in the Confederate armies were African-American themselves. Did that mean that they were "racists" against their own race? No. Many people fought for and supported the Confederacy because they didnít believe in the power of the federal government to force a state or states to remain in the Union if they didnít want to.

Well, guess what? There are still a lot of us around that support that idea. Texas has it written into their constitution that it can secede from the Union at anytime and that provision was accepted and agreed to by the United States when Texas entered the Union. If the state of Texas were to vote tomorrow to pull out of the Union (in fact, if any state wanted to pull out), I would wholeheartedly support that effort.

Why? Because of the simple fact that the Federal government of today does not represent the views of the majority of folks in this country. The economy is in a shambles because of the stumbling, bumbling policies of the federal government. The national debt is now trillions of dollars in the hole. Why wouldnít any state want to pull out? If that makes me prejudiced, then so be it. But letís donít go throwing the baby out with the bath. Letís stop ripping history apart just to satisfy some whim.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

1-14-16

From Library

To all those community volunteers who assisted the Beaver County Pioneer Library in the construction and sale of 1200 tamales, to all those who made candy, and to all those who baked treats for the Bake Sale, the Friends of the Library says a heartfelt thank you. The tamale assembly particularly was a very hectic couple of days and although several Friends of the Library members worked very hard, the process would not have been possible with the help of several expert tamale makers, who illustrated the procedure repeatedly to a mostly inept audience. Tamale making is very labor intensive and hard work.

The Mexican Fiesta dinner and accompanying tamale sale raised several hundred dollars for the programs at the library, as did the pre-Thanksgiving Bake sale and the pre-Christmas Candy Shop. The Bake Sale was conducted before Thanksgiving to assist cooks with mostly homemade dessert choices and customers certainly had plenty from which to choose, again thanks to volunteers, several of whom made several desserts. The Candy Shop was held in conjunction with the Christmas on Douglas celebration and again, offered many delicious homemade treats, again thanks to generous volunteer cooks and library supporters. All funds raised from these efforts will go toward projects to supplement library programs, particularly the summer programs for children.

Again, thanks to all those who helped. We certainly could not have done it without you.

 

1-14-16
 

By Jim Reeves

If you are like me, you get bombarded by offers from cable companies, dish networks, satellite companies and all kinds of other technologies that Iíve never heard and probably could never figure out, all wanting to offer me great deals on packages of TV channels. The smallest of these packages has something like 160 channels! Who in their right mind needs 160 channels? Everyone but my dog has his or her own channel and I wouldnít be surprised if my dog isnít in negotiations, even as I am writing this.

A writer once said that television was a vast mental wasteland. If that is so (and I happen to believe it is), why would I want to multiply this vast mental wasteland by 160 times or 850 times or whatever?

I know there are people who can watch eight different sports channels at the same time and keep up with every game. My question is: Why would you want to?

Iím a simple guy. donít watch football every Thursday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, Monday night and at 2:00 in the morning on New Years.

I will admit that I like to watch the Super Bowl, the 4th (and if necessary, the 5th, 6th, and 7th) game of the World Series, the NCAA championship basketball game and thatís pretty much it. In other words, I watch the last game of the year for those sports. After all, itís only the last game that matters anyway. Why watch all the rest of the games? I donít watch golf because I thinking watching it is just about as boring as watching my grass grow. Hockey is nothing more to me than pro wrestlers on skates. In light of this, why would I need 19 channels of ESPN?

I donít like the movies on HBO, Cinemax, or any of those others because thereís too much violence, sex and foul language. If I want that stuff, all I would have to do is go find a cheap bar somewhere and I could see it all for free (donít worry, Iím not going to.)

Reality TV? Pleeeeeese, thereís nothing real about reality TV and thatís part of whatís wrong with our world. Too many people believe that what they see on reality TV is really real.

Even the shows that are half real donít apply to 90% of us. I mean, when was the last time you drove an eighteen-wheeler over the ice-covered roads of Alberta? For most of us, it would have to be shortly after they released us from the mental hospital.

I really only want about six or seven channels. I would like ABC, CBS, and NBC, so that I could see the news that China has dropped a nuke on Poughkepsie, NY, as it is happening instead of hearing about it three days later when somebody tries to Facebook me.

I would like to see the weather channel so I can keep track of how many times the weather forecasters get it wrong (the only time they get it right around here is when they predict that the wind is going to blow. Shoot, my dog could predict that on his own reality channel).

I like the old westerns, so I could handle the American Movie Classic channel or maybe the Turner Classic Movie channel. The problem is, that just about covers what I would want from any of these companies offering me a "package". Their idea of a package is something the size of the Titanic and my idea of a package is something about the size of a model car. Yet these companies have managed to sell us on the idea that more channels is better.

Our children have so many channels to watch now that they donít know how to pick up a book (they do still make those) and sit down and just read. Read? Why, thatís about to go the way of the World Book Encyclopedias.

Maybe that guy was right about the vast mental wasteland of TV. Think Iíll just pick up a good book, something like the Bible, and spend some time doing that old-fashioned thing called reading.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

1-7-16

By Jim Reeves

Did you have your black-eyed peas on New Yearís Day so that you will have good luck and prosperity in 2016? Did you have some form of cabbage so that you will have folding money in 2016? If you didnít, you might be a Yankee. People from up in the Northeast (New York for example) will not eat black-eyed peas because they call them cow peas and swear that they are not fit for human consumption. Get a rope.

Isnít it weird how traditions, superstitions, old-wives tales become such a part of our lives? I mean, come on, if black-eyed peas really brought good luck and prosperity, Iíd be eating those blooming things for breakfast, lunch and supper (you call it supper if youíre from the south, dinner if you can afford a cook and a butler). Of course, Iíd have to have cornbread every time. I mean, I would eat so many black-eyed peas, Iíd be a billionaire like Donald Trump. (Forget the hair; it ainít happening.)

It has always been such a mystery to me that the four most celebrated days of the year contain so much tradition. We wait all year long to celebrate Thanksgiving. Why isnít it that we donít celebrate Thanksgiving every day? After all, the poorest people in America are more wealthy than two-thirds of the worldís population. The average yearly income of most of the third world countries is less than $1,000 a year! A year! We live in the most affluent country in the world and yet we proclaim thanksgiving only one day of the year!

How about Christmas? We wait all year for Christmas morning so that we can sit around an artificial tree, lit up with cheap lights and ornaments, open gifts that probably wonít last the first week, throw tons of ribbons, bows, and wrapping paper in the trash, gorge ourselves on turkey and ham, have an overdose of football and hopefully remember that we are celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus. Why donít we look at every day as Christmas, wakening up every morning and receiving from God the one gift that really has any meaning at all. It is a gift that you canít buy or sell, you can return it, you canít steal it, you canít trade it. The only thing you can do with it is to receive it and to share it. It is the gift of Godís one and only Son, given to all of us, whether we want it or not.

Then, thereís the biggieóEaster. Easter is such a big day that we have a whole week, we even call it Holy Week, leading up to that Sunday. We have 40 days of Lent where we give up drinking Dr. Pepper or coffee or some other thing that isnít any good for us anyway.

We have a sunrise service, dress up in fancy new clothes, watch the kids chase plastic eggs all over the yard and proclaim that it is a day of resurrection, renewal, new birth. Why isnít it that every day canít be Easter. After all, every day is a new day, a renewal and resurrection of that which died last night and is born again this morning. When you get to be my age, every day is a day of resurrection.

Finally, there is New Yearís Day, January 1. We can obviously only have one January first, but why canít we have new yearís day every day. When I wake up in the morning and donít see my name in the obituaries, I give thanks (thereís Thanksgiving) for the gift of a new day (gift, thereís Christmas) in which this tired old body is resurrected for one more time (thereís Easter). Every day is the beginning of a new year for each of us. Every day is the first day of the rest of our lives.

What happened last month, last year, last week, yesterday is dead and gone. This day is all that we can hope for. Itís a new year if we are able to draw a breath. There, I got all four holidays wrapped up in one day, each day, every day.

Of course all of this might really be confusing to Wal-Mart, having to put out merchandise year round to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Yearís and Easter, but think how much more fulfilling our lives could be if we celebrate life that way.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

12-31-15

By Jim Reeves

I heard someone say this last Saturday in the local grocery that they were getting ready to "hunker down and ride it out." The store was full of people stocking up on provisions, anticipating the snow storm/blizzard. I started thinking that it is interesting that we humans donít learn much from the squirrels, groundhogs and such critters.

They work hard through the summer and fall to stock up, to lay in nuts and such for their winter and then they just "hunker down and ride it out" through the winter.

How are we doing on our "spiritual" provisions? Do we do the typical thing and wait to call on God when the storm has already hit and weíre knee-deep in disaster? If so, we are doing what so many others do. We tend to put God in a box up on the shelf (kind of like the items on the shelves in the grocery) and we use Him only sparingly, then when we have a storm in our lives, we want to rush to the shelves and stock up. We want to "hunker down and ride it out", returning to the same old, same old as soon as the storm passes.

The mark of a true relationship with God is that we seek that relationship the same way that the squirrels and groundhogs and other such critters gather in their store for the winter. They work at it every day and so should we. Because they work at it everyday, they are prepared for the winter storms long before they arrive. When we work at our relationship with God every day of our lives, then we, too, are prepared for the storms of life long before they arrive.

It is a simple truth of life that winter will always follow the summer and fall. We cannot expect everyday to be a warm, sunny, perfect summer day. Storms are a part of our lives. Winter comes and it gets cold and dark, snows come and sometimes those winter storms are more than just light.

Sometimes, we have a blizzard. I heard an old-timer say the other day that he figured we would have a bad winter because we are "overdue" for one.

Our personal lives are like that. It would be nice if all our spiritual storms were minor ones, but the simple truth is that sometimes we are "overdue" for a big one. The key is to be prepared for the storms of life at all times. We should be stocking up at all times on our store of faith, trust, hope and dependence upon Godís grace. The fundamental truth is that God promises that He will never forsake or leave us, if we will simply put our trust in Him.

In my sixty-nine years of life, I have seen many storms. I have been in tornadoes and two hurricanes and yes, even a few blizzards. The one thing I have always noticed is that the people who come out the best in every storm are those who prepare for the storms, long before the weather man tells them the storm is upon them. I have always thought that it doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is a storm going on when the storm is right on top of you. The true wisdom is to know that storms happen, and to be prepared for them long in advance.

Until next week, may God find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

12-24-15

By Jim Reeves

Most preachers will tell you that one of the hardest things to do is to come up with new sermons for the Christmas and Easter seasons. Lots of thought and effort goes into trying to come up with something refreshing, new or different.

This week was no different for me than it probably was for lots of other ministers. Do you read the same scriptures as always or do you come up with something different? How do you come up with new ideas for sermons? Then suddenly, I stopped and asked myself a question. Why should you need to come up with something different? The fundamental story of Christmas and Easter is the foundation of what we should be about in both of these seasons.

Christmas is about the birth of a child in a manger in a tiny village in Israel all those years ago. More than just the birth, it is about the gift, the gift of salvation sure, but more than that, Christmas is about the gift of giving ourselves to others. It is the story of giving the world a break from all the bad news that we hear everyday. I am reminded of the story about one Christmas during World War I when both the Germans and the Allies decided to stop fighting for one day and evening to sit down together and celebrate Christmas. The fighting ceased, the guns went silent, and for just a few hours, men who had been shooting at each other earlier, sat down, had a meal together, sang Christmas carols and had fellowship together. They laughed with each other, shared stories of home and family and generally enjoyed the time together. Sadly, the time of fellowship ended and the guns started firing again, men started shooting at each other and the war was back on.

Why canít we do that same thing today? Why canít we decide for at least a day or so, we could just enjoy fellowship with each other? How about putting aside all our hatred, distrust, and suspicion, and just share in the peace and joy of the season? Why canít we stop giving guns to ten and twelve year old kids and share with them candy, toys, love, whatever it takes to just let them be kids?

The fundamental reason for Christmas and Easter is to remind us that our greatest gift is not to receive, but to give. Whether Iím a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, or a member of the church of the third rock from the Sun is not the issue. Foremost, I am a human being, with the need for fellowship with other human beings, with a need to give love and receive love, with a need to know that I am important to someone, that I have worth. These are the fundamental needs that separate us from all the other animals on this planet.

We need to understand that it was not by accident that God created humans. We are the crowning hope of tomorrow, the promise of things yet to come. Forget about the religions or theology, or beliefs that separate us, and seek instead to find those things which can and should unite us. Itís not about us and them; itís about all of us together.

This season, letís stop for just a little while, trying to wreck this world that we live on and try to find those things that we have in common: the need for love, the need for fellowship, the need to feel that we have worth and give worth to human life. Letís stop thinking of this as a season of the birth of a child and start focusing on this as a season for surviving as the human race. Who knows, we might even get to enjoying this joy and peace thing so much that we might decide to practice it all the time.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

12-17-15

By Jim Reeves

We have all heard the saying, "It is better to give than to receive." Somehow, in our me-centered world, we have rethought that to mean, "It is better for you to give and for me to receive." When we study the history of our great nation, we have somehow gone from "You work, you eat! No work, no eat" to the idea of "You owe me a meal."

In this time of Christmas, we hear people saying, "It is the season of joy and good tidings toward all men." So now we have a Thanksgiving season, a Christmas season and a season of joy and good will toward others? Somehow that seems to make it just like deer season or pheasant season or some other short burst of time. When I last checked, we are supposed to have good will toward mankind every day, all day, all year. Isnít that what Jesus meant when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself"?

Come on, people, since when do we have to have to have a season in which we are to love one another while the rest of the time, we can despise our neighbor?

As for joy, there is a simple way to find joy. First, love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul. In other words, love God with all that you are. Second, love yourself. Our world is in the shape itís in, because so many people donít love themselves. Because they donít love themselves, they think no one else deserves to love themselves. This is the simple reason that human life has so little value to so many in our world today.

I have a little cartoon of a kid that is so ugly that even a mother would be hard pressed to say anything nice, but underneath that drawing is a saying that goes, "I know that I am somebody special because God donít make no junk." Forget that the English is horrible and focus on the meaning. Every human being is special simply because God doesnít make junk. To think otherwise is to say, in essence, that God makes mistakes.

Third, we need to practice the original meaning of that saying, "It is better to give than to receive." I have found over sixty-nine years of living that when I give my time, talent or money to help others, that the blessing I receive is far greater than the one I give. I recently escorted a young inmate home to see his dying father. Sure, it took some of my time, and resources, but the blessing I got out of that was so much greater than any blessing that I gave. I not only got to minister to the young man, I got to minister to the young manís father, also. I understand that there are people around saying, "Why in the world would he want to do that?" The more important question is, "Why in the world would I not want to do it?" If we call ourselves Christians and then want to pick and choose the things we want to do for others, or worse, not do anything at all for others, then weíre not Christians. Weíre hypocrites.

In this season of joy (which shouldnít just be a season at all), if you think your life is miserable and there is no joy, let me tell you a simple way to find it. Go out and find someone who needs you to do something for them. It may be as simple as changing a light bulb for the little old lady next door or it may be as involved as spending the day beside the bed of a dying person, reading to a child at school, or escorting a young man to see his dad. Whatever it is, I guarantee that the more you give to others, the more you bless others, the more you love others, the more you will be blessed and the more joy you will find.

Shut the TV down for a day and give of yourself. Try it; you just might like it.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

12-10-15

By Jim Reeves

My old Pappy used to say, "You can dress a pig in a tuxedo, but at the end of the day, heís still just ham." Somehow seems kind of appropriate for this time of the year. I think what he was trying to say is that we try too much to take the simple, basic things and make them more complicated than they are.

Iíve been thinking a lot on this thing out in San Bernadino, CA, and the more I think on it, the more I think we are trying to take a simple thing and make it into a national debate on so many complicated matters that Einstein couldnít make sense of it.

The simple fact is that it makes no sense. It makes no sense that an off-handed comment about the male shooterís beard would lead to fourteen people being dead. This wasnít about somebodyís beard! This wasnít about theology, or ideology or politics or any of the millions of other things that commentators and analysts are trying to figure out. This was about the simple, basic value of human life.

When I was growing up, we were taught that human life is precious, our own and the lives of others. We were taught a simple, basic, ten Commandment rule, "Thou shalt not kill." You simply did not take the life of someone else unless it was absolutely necessary. That fundamental rule of the Ten Commandments went out the window when we took prayer out of schools, when we stopped opening public meetings, sports games and other activities with prayer, when we started thinking it was more important to watch reruns of Duck Dynasty than it is to be in church. We somehow stopped learning about how to live with each other and started thinking that the all-knowing, Washington eyeball, Big Brother is watching, would somehow keep society straightened out. Well, guess what, the social experiment of "letís just hope it comes to us by osmosis", ainít working. (Please excuse me, all you teachers, for the use of improper English).

Itís time for us to get back to the basics of teaching the basics. All the detractors out there who want to criticize the Christian faith, itís time for you to wake up and realize something. Your way ainít working. (There I go again.) This country has led the world for over two hundred years for one reason and one reason, only. It was created, founded, and for many years was guided by the fundamental values of Christianity. Somewhere, beginning back in the l950s, we started thinking that we didnít need God to help us run our lives. I hope we can all see where that thinking has gotten us. As my old Pappy would also say, "Thatís just plain Stinking Thinking."

Here we are headed into the Christmas season (oops, Iím sorry. The politically correct term is the Holiday season), talking about peace on Earth and goodwill to man, and then we up and shoot fourteen people over a comment about a beard. Come on, letís call this what it is: hypocrisy. Itís hypocritical to go into a national chain store that refuses to allow the Salvation Army bell-ringers a place on the parking lot and then plays Christmas music over the sound system inside. Itís hypocritical to demand that we take the Ten Commandments off the courthouse or statehouse square and then oooh and aaaah at the Christmas decorations on the street lights. Itís hypocritical for Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target and all the rest to say they are not going to allow Christmas activities on their parking lots because it might offend someone and then devote a fourth of their store to selling Christmas trees, ornaments and toys.

If we, as a nation, are not going to truly practice the fundamental reason for Christmas (the birth of a Savior, who would teach us how to live with ourselves), then letís just stop calling it Christmas. Ooooops, canít do that! Then weíd have no reason for Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

12-03-2015

OK, folks, itís time for a little fundamental lesson in civics (government, politics, whatever you want to call it). In listening to the debates, both on the Republican side and the Democratic side, I am once again struck how little the American electorate (thatís you and I, guys) really knows about how the system works.

Case in point. Every candidate that I have listened to talks about how he or she wants to cut down on taxes. The fact is that, hear this folks, the president of the United States can do NOTHING about raising or lowering your taxes or mine. That power, the power to create, raise or lower, taxes is reserved exclusively for the Senate of the United States Congress. The best that a president can do is to suggest, propose, or send to the Senate a bill calling for a change in the taxes. Are you aware that you or I have the right to propose bills to the Congress? Not that they would pay any attention to us lowly voters, but, yes, any American citizen has that right.

Second case in point. Every candidate wants to tells you and me that they want to cut spending. The fact is that the budget is only proposed by the executive branch.

The actual budget starts in the House of Representatives and then goes to the Senate and then (and only then) to the president for signature or veto. Yes, the White House sends a PROPOSED budget to the House, but that is all that it is, a PROPOSED budget. The House is not even required to look at it.

We like to talk about the president being the single most powerful person in the world, when the cold hard fact is that that idea is only true in terms of international politics. When you consider the fact that a person literally follows the president everywhere (even into the rest room), every waking moment of the presidentís day with the launch codes for all of Americaís nuclear weapons, then I guess you could say that the president is pretty powerful.

When it comes to national politics, the president is simply not as powerful as the American public likes to think. The president cannot raise or lower taxes, cannot officially start or declare war (although those Korean and Vietnam vets might argue otherwise), cannot affect your social security, medicare, or other endowment programs, except to suggest changes to the Congress, cannot declare a law constitutional or unconstitutional, and a whole lot of other things that the president simply CANNOT do, simply because those powers are reserved for the legislative branch (Congress) or the judicial branch (the Supreme Court). Thank goodness our system is set up that way.

The plain truth of the matter is that I am not impressed by any of the candidates and the primary reason that I am not is that all of them want to make you and I believe that they will be more powerful than they really will be. If we truly want to fix the wrongs of our political system, stop focusing on who wants to be president and start focusing on those who want to be Senators and Representatives. After all, this is the group that has itís own retirement plan (which by the way, they can take advantage of after only one day of serving), their own health care program (and it sure isnít Obamacare), more privileges than a king and little or no responsibility to you and I as the electorate.

If we really want to change things, I suggest that we, as the electorate, demand constitutional amendments to limit terms in office to eight years for Senators and for Representatives as well, amendments to force congressional members to be a part of the same retirement system (social security) and the same healthcare program (medicare) as the rest of us. I guarantee that if we force congressional members to be a part of the same social security system as we are, they would find a way to guarantee Social Security.

Letís focus on the people who can really make a change and let the presidential candidates go on releasing gas.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

11-26-15

By Jim Reeves

Well, we are entering into that period of Thanksgiving and celebration. For the next 30 to 45 days, our lives will be hectic, with family visits, big meals, football, and hopefully the remembrance of what itís all about. Like I said last week, I donít see why we donít celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas every day of the year. Of course, all those big meals would probably result in the turkey being placed on the endangered list, and we would still most likely forget what the real meaning of the season is.

As we head into this week of feasting (probably over feasting), letís remember that first Thanksgiving, back there in Plymouth. No, young people, there was no football to watch or participate in. Of course, it might have happened if someone had simply picked the spiral-cut ham up and started throwing it. Just think, it would have been the first game between the Cowboys and the Redskins! Oops, I forgot, we canít call them "Redskins" anymore. So, I will use the politically correct terms. It would have been the first game between the indigenous people of the New World and the devious, back-stabbing people of Caucasian persuasion who took advantage of them. Whew, that takes a lot of breath!

If the indigenous people of the New World had only had a crystal ball, they might have looked into the future and seen Custer, and Sheridan and Cody. Then, they might have loaded the devious, back-stabbing people of Caucasian persuasion back into the boats and sent them back to England. Then, just think, we might be taking a break on Thursday for tea time instead of sitting down for turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, rolls and pecan pie and we wouldnít know what wonderful things corn, squash, pumpkins and watermelons are. Wait a minute! Watermelons for Thanksgiving? While there might be ham, there wouldnít be any turkeys. Well, except for the human kind.

It seems that somehow Thanksgiving has lost itís original meaning. Now, it seems to be about the Thursday football game between the Detroit Lions and that other team.

Why is it that we donít get upset about calling them Lions instead of really big pussycats? Right! I want to see you try and call one of the linebackers a really big pussycat.

I heard a group of women talking about driving all the way to Dallas for the pre-Black Friday sales. Why in the world would anyone want to go through that just to save a couple of bucks? Soon weíll have pre-pre black Friday sales. Would that make it Thanksgiving all year round? Just think, those original Pilgrims had no Wal-Marts, no internets, no computers, no I-pads, no cell phones, no credit cards. Gee, that would be enough right there to give thanks for.

Serious, before you sit down at the table to practice your brain surgeon skills on the turkey, join hands with your family and start naming all of the things that you have to be thankful for. If you have a big family and everyone shares all the things they have to be thankful for, youíll still be praying come Friday morning and you will have missed the big meal and that game that might have started between the indigenous people of the New World and the devious, back-stabbing people of Caucasian persuasion from down Dallas way. Hold on, was there a Dallas back then? Maybe. After all, history isnít always what we think it to be.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

11-19-15

By Jim Reeves

Why is it that special events or holidays should only happen once a year? Is it so that they become more special just because they only happen once a year or is it somehow connected to the giving and receiving of gifts? I can see how Columbus Day should only happen once a year. After all, itís not like old Chris discovered the New World anew every day.

That would be like the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day" where he somehow woke up every day and it was Groundhog Day again. Same for Easter, the 4th of July and some holidays like that.

However, I question why we should have Thanksgiving only once a year. Does that mean that we are thankful only one day out of the year? I certainly hope not. I hope that we are thankful everyday for the things that God provides us with. I guess it would be rather ridiculous for the Dallas Cowboys to play Detroit or Chicago every day (not that it would matteróDallas would lose anyway).

How about Christmas? We celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus only once a year, but I secretly suspect that the reason we do is because parents couldnít afford to buy their kids gifts everyday of the year. We would also get tired of having a Christmas tree stuck in the middle of our living room the year round (especially if it was a live one, dropping pine needles everywhere, everyday).

I do think we should seriously celebrate everyday the fact that Jesus came into the world to save us. After all, the greatest gift that we can give Him, ourselves, doesnít cost anything. I personally give thanks everyday for the gift of Godís only begotten Son. So, maybe I am celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas everyday.

I suspect that the turkeys of the world are glad that we donít celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas but once a year. If we celebrated these two holidays everyday, would that mean that we should cook two turkeys and two hams everyday? Heaven forbid! After all, turkey is only good for so long and there wouldnít be enough turkeys to last the whole year. Pigs, now thatís a different story. Just look at the number of pig farms scattered around.

I certainly couldnít stand the idea of cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie or stuffing everyday. Some things lose their appeal after once or twice a year.

Last, but certainly not least, there is the matter of birthdays. I know that we celebrate our birthdays on a certain day because it was on that day that we were born. But when you get older, you celebrate everyday for just being alive another day, so everyday becomes kind of like a birthday. No, my wife would not be expected to buy me a gift everyday, but it might be kind of nice if people would congratulate us or comment on our being alive another day. Wait a minute, that might cause us to start being paranoid, asking ourselves, "Do they know something that maybe we donít"?Maybe those Old Testament guys celebrated their birthdays everyday. Maybe thatís how they lived to be nine hundred years old. Maybe they had a different take on birthdays than we do.

Oh, well, all this thinking is giving me a headache. Think Iíll go break out the ham, make me a sandwich and go take a nap. After all, Sunday only happens once a week. Maybe, though, we should have Sunday everyday. Whoops, there I go thinking again.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

11-12-15

By Jim Reeves

In my government classes, both in high school and college, we learned that one personís freedom ended at another personís nose. Of course, this means the first personís right to swing his arms with his fist doubled up anywhere and anytime he or she wants to, as long as the swinging fist doesnít connect with someone elseís nose.

This week I heard a story of some high school teacher who was having his students to write a paper and in that paper to somehow include the statement, "God does not exist." Well, you know where this story is headed. One student refused to include that statement and politely told the teacher that he would not. The teacher then told the student, that if he didnít include that statement, the best grade the student could hope for was a 70.

There are a few things about this story that I want to point out. The first is that I, as a former educator, cannot believe that the teacher would be so stupid. Thatís right, folks, I said the "S" word! This is clearly a case of one person (the teacher) wanting to exercise his right to swing his fist, regardless of whose nose got bloodied. In this country, we simply donít have that right.

Secondly, the other person (the student) wanted to exercise his right to religious freedom. That right was in danger of being ran over by the freight train of someone who simply wants to prove his or her point. If the teacher doesnít believe there is a God, then fine, he has that right. But he doesnít have the right to cram his belief (or lack of) down the throat of someone else, simply because that person is a student or just to prove a point.

Thirdly, this is clearly a case of playing the old "power game" where one person believes that he or she has power over someone else simply because of position. Many of us grew up in an age where the teacher was thought to be right all the time, whether they were or not. You didnít argue with the teacher, you didnít refuse to do what the teacher said to do.

On the other hand, those in authority (be it a teacher, principal or other school official) were expected to show at least a little common sense and for the most part, they did. In the case of this teacher and the campus policeman who threw the young high school girl out of the chair, neither displayed even an inkling of common sense.

In both cases, someone should have seen the train wreck coming long before it happened.

We seem to be living in an age where a number of fundamental rules for getting along have been thrown out the window. The first of these rules is to try at all times to display a little common sense. Another is to think always before you act. Yet, somehow, people of today donít seem to display much of either of these two rules. The case of the road rage incident in Albuquerque, where the little 4-year old girl was killed, is another prime example of this.

Common sense should have told the father that getting into a battle of automobiles with children in the car was not a good idea. Common sense should have told the driver of the other car that pulling a pistol and firing it from that car, on a busy interstate highway was not a good idea and that someone was likely to get hurt.

All of this brings me to a basic fundamental truth about rights that somehow seldom gets taught. The rights that we think we have do not come to us automatically. We should earn them, as we grow and as we hopefully gain a modicum of common sense. Secondly, every right comes at a price and that price is that every right carries with it an equal responsibility to use that right wisely and carefully.

Obviously, that responsibility was not considered in all three of the above cases, and now three people are going to have to pay the price. The teacher is being sued and was fired.

The school cop was fired and is being sued, and the driver of that car who fired the shots is facing multiple criminal charges. I say great. They all deserve exactly what they get.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

11-5-15

By Jim Reeves

A passenger jet was flying across country when it encountered a violent thunderstorm. The plane was pitching and bucking like a wild bull, rising and then suddenly dropping, seemingly into nothingness. The passengers were screaming, some were crying, and some were praying out loud, gripping their armrests, sure that they were all going to die.

All that is, except for oneó a little eight year old girl, sitting in an aisle seat in the second-class cabin, her doll sitting in the seat beside her. The little girl was reading a book, reading it to her doll and never once did she look up in fright. She didnít scream or cry or pray. She just calmly continued to read.

The airliner broke out of the storm into calm air and began its descent into the airport that was to be its final destination. A passenger, sitting in the aisle seat across from the little girl, turned to her and said, "Young lady, I admire you. When everyone else was screaming and crying, and hearts were beating fast, you remained absolutely calm. How did you do it? Werenít you afraid?"

"No," replied the little girl.

"Why not," inquired the passenger?

"Because my daddy is the pilot," answered the child.

Oh, for the faith of a little child. It might not necessarily be the faith that we preachers would seek, but it is an example of the faith that all of us need. Here was a little girl, confident that her father could get them through the roughest storms, that he was going to be there to take care of her and would do everything in his power to keep her safe.

All of us experience terrible storms in life, some worse than others. Each one is a test of our faith. Who do we put our trust in? There is, after all, a father even greater than the earthly father that we all have. That father is our Heavenly Father, God. When the days are darkest, when everyone else is screaming or crying, do we put our trust in the God who promises us that He will take care of us?

In 2005, I had a terrible motorcycle wreck, a wreck so bad that my doctor said, by all rights, that I should not have lived. I had broken or fractured every single bone in my head and my left eye had come out of the socket. I remember kneeling on the pavement, holding my left eye in my left hand, and the first words I said were, "Oh, God, help me." Then suddenly I heard a voice, as plain as any I have ever heard, say, "Donít worry, Iíll take care of it." Thirteen surgeries later, I am able to say that He did.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer, and my doctor said that there was a good chance that I might not live through the treatment, and even if I did, there was a chance I might never talk again. I simply said to the doctor, "Letís give this to God and trust in Him." Thirty-three radiation treatments and fifteen chemo treatments, and five years later, I can say that my cancer is in remission and Iím still preaching.

We canít always avoid the storms of life, but we can choose who we trust. My question to each of you this day would be, "Who is your pilot?"

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

10-29-15

By Jim Reeves

Since this week is Halloween, I thought we might look at some possibly frightening scenarios in the political world. First on the Democratic side. Suppose Hillary rides the wave into the Democratic National Convention and gets the nomination as the partyís candidate. Who might she choose for a Vice-presidential candidate? She could choose her husband, Bill.

Thatís right, folks. The Constitution says he canít run for President again, but nothing prevents him from being second on the ticket. Then imagine that the Clinton/Clinton ticket wins. A couple of months into her administration, she decides to resign because of a mid-life crisis (sheís past mid-life, for goodness sake), fatigue, because she has a terminal illness, whatever. Guess who becomes President? You got it! Old Slick Willy could legitimately become President for another four years. Thatís scary.

Letís look at the Republicans. Letís say, heaven forbid, that Trump carries the nomination through the convention. Who might he choose? Carly Fiorini? That would be scary, a ticket where both candidates have no experience? Ben Carson? Same thing. Marco Rubio? Better choice. From there, the pickings get pretty slim. Besides that, Hillary would eat his lunch in a debate.

Suppose Carson gets the partyís nod as presidential candidate. Who does he choose? Certainly not Trump. Carson would never get a word in if that were the case. Fiorini? Same drawback as above. Carson certainly wouldnít fare any better against Hillary in a debate. Rubio? Again, a better choice.

Letís imagine a couple of even wilder possibilities. Suppose Carson wins the nomination. Trump gets mad and runs as a third party candidate. In the general election, he splits the Republican party and Hillary wins by default. It happened when Lincoln was elected. He did not win a majority of the popular vote. The Democrats couldnít decide on a candidate and the party split allowing Lincoln to win.

Imagine an even wilder scenario. Hillary wins the Democratic nomination and then chooses a Republican as her vice-presidential running mate. It is allowable, possible and has even been done once in our nationís history. Thatís right, early in our history, the ticket was a candidate from both parties and they won. Would such a ticket (a Democrat and Republican) heal the differences between the two parties or throw us into even greater chaos? If the vice-presidential candidate was a Republican, he or she would be president-pro-temp of the Senate, where most of the legislation is handled, and it would be a republican administration by default, at least for the first two years.

Suppose, the popular vote comes out dead even, 50-50. Then, the election gets thrown into the Senate and they get to choose a president. That, too, has happened, early in our history. Even though the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, would they have enough clout to elect a president? That process could talk months to finish, during which time, the country would be without leadership. The whole country would come out as the loser and we would be left wide-open. Every man for himself.

All of these scenarios have been running through my head so much that I have begun to have political headaches. Maybe not as painful as a migraine, but certainly scarier. I still think that the candidate that I have picked for over fifty years of my life would be a good one and I canít figure out why no one else thinks Mickey Mouse would be a good president. After all, a lot of those running this year certainly look and act like cartoon characters.

All of this thinking is making me hungry. Think Iíll open a bag of candy and pig out. Sorry, kids.

Until next time, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

10-22-15

By Jim Reeves

"I can remember when". Four words that may well be the most defining four words in the English language. They can define us by an age that is often totally lost to the youngsters of today. They may define us by the region or area of the country or world to which we were born. They may define the way we grew up as children.

Letís try a few "I can remember whens". Can you remember the days before TV? The days when you were lucky if you got three channels on your TV? The days of "rabbit ears" and twists of tin foil between the antenna? (Do you even know what "rabbit ears" were?) Can you remember the very first TV show ever broadcast in color? (Just a hint: It starred Lorne Green as the father of three sons) Can you remember when telephone numbers were a combination of letters and numbers? (Ev3-4735) Can you remember when you could go to the movies for a quarter, get admission, a Coke and a bag of popcorn? You can see where this is going, canít you?

Can you remember "gas wars?" When you could buy gas for 11 cents a gallon? When you could put a dollarís worth of gas in your car and "drag" the main street all night? Iíll give you something else to think aboutócan you remember when the old typewriters had the cent sign on the keyboard? Look for it now on your computer keyboard. Can you remember when the first computer you ever saw was the size of a small house? Oh, boy, I remember how cold they had to keep the room where the first computer I ever saw was.

Can you remember phone booths? The days when you had "party lines" and you might have to ask someone to get off the line so you could make a call? Can you remember the old, black, rotary phones where you stuck your finger in the round holes, spun the dial and then listened to it go "click, click, click" as it spun back?

Can you remember nickel Cokes, nickel phone calls, penny candy, dime novels, comic books that were a dime? Money sure went a lot farther then than it does today. Can you remember Roy Rogers lunchboxes or the days when the milkman actually delivered milk straight to your doorsteps? Can you remember when mailing a letter was 3 cents (there is my keyboard with no cent sign again)?

The list of "I can remember whens" could go on and on forever and there are probably some of you who can remember even farther back than those examples I have listed here. If you can, congratulations on making it this far. The point to this exercise is that so many of our young people today havenít the foggiest clue about how things were 10, 15, even 20 years ago, much less back following the Second World War. I was asked very recently why I wanted to ride in the B-29 and B-17 bombers. Yes, it was for the thrill of riding in aircraft that old, riding in aircraft that played a big role in winning a war. But it was more than that. It was about remembering, about bringing back a time in life when things were much simpler than they are now. It was about remembering a time in our history when choices were about right and wrong, black and white, with no gray areas. A time when honesty, and integrity were words that had meaning. Maybe it was a way of wishing that we could return to those times, to those "thrilling days of yesteryear" and "Hi Ho, Silver, Away".

Oh, yeah, in case you are one of those who can remember those things that I have listed, guess what? Your getting old! Hold on to the memories, share them with your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren. True, they may ask you if you rode to school on a dinosaur, but the telling of those memories may just bring you a lot of pleasure.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

10-15-15

By Jim Reeves

On the wall in our living room is a small framed sign that simply reads, "The word canít is not in my vocabulary." It is a left-over remnant of my childhood and yet, it has been such a guiding force in a life lived thus far.

My old pappy did not like the word "canít". Growing up, my two sisters and I were discouraged from using the word and I have even seen my dad fire people simply because their reply was "I canít" whenever he would give them a job to do.

This would seem to be, to most people, an idiosyncrasy of a rather harsh man. Yes, he could be harsh at times, but he knew how to get the best out of people around him and using the word "canít" wasnít a part of that process.

When questioned, he would say, "When a man says he canít, heís already given up. Heís quit before he has even tried. Canít never got anything done." Simplistic, but profound for a man with only a third-grade education. You were definitely going to get farther with him if you said, "I donít know, but I will certainly give it a try" instead of simply saying, "I canít." Over the years of growing up, we three kids learned that there many responses much more preferable than simply saying, "I canít."

Without knowing it, my old pappy had hit upon one of the major components of success in any endeavor. For example, we would never have put a man on the moon if we had started the adventure by saying, "It canít be done." The Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk would never have made that first flight if they had started out by saying, "It canít be done." Indeed, as my dad would say, "Canít never got anything done."

Perhaps the greatest example of this simple truth of success came during the Second World War. The United States successfully accomplished something that has only been done once in the history of the worldóthey fought a war on two fronts and won. Back through history, other countries had tried, but they had all failed. There were some that doubted we could do it after December 7th, 1941, but the American resolve was perhaps best exhibited in a poster showing a red-headed woman with her hair in a bandana, her sleeves rolled up, with a hammer in one hand and her arm bent to flex her muscle. Rosie the Riveter, with her slogan, "We can get the job done", became the driving force for men, women, and in some cases, even children, united in determination to defeat both the Japanese and the Germans on two fronts, half a world apart. The idea of "It canít be done" disappeared from our vocabulary.

In our society of today, it seems to be convenient and easy for us to simply give up by saying "I canít." All too often we expect and hope that someone, often the government, will do it for us. It would have been easy for a kid who wasnít much brighter than a box of rocks, when faced with changing schools every six weeks, to have said, "I canít." That was never an option. When told by the 12th grade counselor that there was no way he could hope to graduate on time, he didnít even think of calling home and saying, "I canít." He simply signed up for three correspondence courses and seven in-school classes and walked across the stage on time. His parents never knew how close he came to not making it.

None of this is said to be arrogant or to brag, but rather to challenge all of us to return to the resolve that has made this country great. America today faces greater challenges that ever before. We can face these challenges and succeed in getting through them or we can simply give up by saying, "It canít be done." Perhaps, if we all adopted the idea that the word "canít" is not in our vocabulary, we might see even greater things accomplished. I encourage us all to remember that Biblical Scripture, "I can do all things through Christ (God) who strengthens me."

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

 

10-08-2015

By Jim Reeves

Have you been listening to the presidential candidates latelyóI mean really listening? (Okay, I know that nobody really listens to them, but still) There is a little phrase that has been popping up in the rhetoric of all the candidates, in both parties. That little phrase is "economic inequality". Sounds pretty innocent, doesnít it? Well, it is, until you really start digging deeper into each candidates plans concerning "economic inequality".

What the use of this phrase means is that all of the candidates are saying that there is inequality between the rich and the poor. Duh! Did it take the brain surgeon to figure that out? There has always been inequality between the rich and the poor. Itís a basic economic fact. Some people, through brains, luck, good investments, risks at the right time, whatever, make more money than others. Some people work more and save more than others and become wealthier. Some people dare to risk. Whatever the circumstance, some people just accumulate more wealth than others.

Now comes the politicians and this little phrase "economic inequality." Hillary is trying to play to the sympathies of what she calls "the common people." I find it hard to put stock in what she says when her and Bill paid a whopping $145 MILLION last year, just in federal income tax. That means, even conservatively, they had to make over $300 million in income! Now, really, my "common people" brothers and sisters, how many of you made more than $300 million last year. I consider myself to be "common people" and if she really wants to play to my vote, Iíll take 1/30th of the Clintonís income and Iíll even pay the taxes on it.

In playing to the poorer classes, take a real close look at what she (and all the other candidates) want to do to solve this "economic inequality." In a speech just last week, she said, if elected, "We will take some of what you have (speaking of the richer classes) and give it to those less fortunate." This quote alone should scare us all (well, unless you are one of those who might receive some of the benefits). This "some of what you have" can be stated much clearer and much plainer. It means that the government (probably the IRS) will take some of your hard-earned money and give it to those less fortunate. Some of the Republican candidates are saying they would support a one-time tax on everyone making more that $200,000 and give that money to the poorer classes. Letís get real, people. When was the last time that you ever heard of the government creating a "one-time" tax?

The plans of all the candidates basically support the idea of taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor. I think communism and socialism tried that back in the l920s and it didnít work then, and it wonít work now. Another simple economic fact is that some people work for their income and others want to live off those who do. Even if we leveled out all the incomes of all the people in the United States, it wouldnít be a week before those who are driven to succeed to start rebuilding their wealth and pulling away from those who donít care.

There are some fundamental things these people are missing here. First, of all, God did not make us all equal. If He had of, we would all be the same height, the same weight, have the same eye color, the same hair color, and like our broccoli. The second fundamental thing that these politicians are missing is that this country was founded on the fundamental precepts of free enterprise, hard work and the desire to get ahead. When a government, any government, starts telling its people that they shouldnít have to work, that they shouldnít try to succeed, that their government should be in the business of taking care of everyoneís needs and that everyone should have the same standard of living, that nation and that government are doomed to failure.

When you hear the phrase "economic inequality", you should check your hip pocket or your purse and make sure you still have your wallet. Better yet, you should check to see if it still has any money in it. After all, the IRS is the biggest criminal organization in America and the sad thing is that it is legal.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

10-01-2015

By Jim Reeves

I thank God that He gave to us the gift of humor and laughter. Even in the saddest or darkest of circumstances, we can often find that little glimmer of laughter or humor.

I known the devastation of dealing with people who suffer from dementia or Alzheimerís disease. My own mother suffered from dementia and I watched it grow progressively worse until it finally reached a point where she knew nothing about what was going on around her or anyone in her family.

Yet, even as her disease grew worse, there were those moments of humor. I remember one morning when my two sisters (who lived much closer) received a call from the nursing home administrator. It seems that Mother had gotten out of her room in the middle of the night and was wandering around the halls. Confused, she tried a door and when it opened, she simply went in and laid down in the bed. Unfortunately, the room happened to be occupied by an elderly man, who fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) also suffered from dementia. My two highly puritan sisters were absolutely aghast and couldnít believe that such a thing could happen. While they were appalled and apparently worried that Mother would be the talk of the town by nightfall, I found myself smiling a little. I was tempted to ask them if they were afraid that something might have happened, but I decided I wouldnít push my luck.

My mother-in-law is also suffering from dementia and I find myself reliving some of those days with my mother all over again. At a recent family reunion, I thought it was kind of amusing that my mother-in-law knew exactly who I was and even introduced me to people as, "This is my son-in-law, Jim." Yet, for the life of her, she couldnít figure out who Sandra (my wife) was! Her own daughter! I thought maybe it was just a change from all those years when my mother-in-law blamed me for stealing her oldest daughter away from home and I was feeling pretty good about it. I wanted to rib my wife about it,but again, wisdom told me not to push my luck.

Throughout the weekend of the family reunion, I watched as children, grandchildren, in-laws and out-laws laughed (along with my mother-in-law) at some of her forgetfulness and memory lapses and I thought how great it would be if those moments could be the ones everyone remembers.

Mind you, I am not saying that dementia or Alzheimerís are laughing matters. They are two highly devastating and debilitating diseases that rob our elderly of some of the most precious times. What all of us who are dealing with the diseases need to remember is to find what little humor we can, where we can and hold on to those memories. After all, laughter may be the only thing that keeps us from crying.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

Dear Editor,

Iím John Vincent the Grandson of Deloris Nichols. Deloris Passed away on the 13th of this month and we had her funeral on the 20th.

The reason Iím writing this to you is I feel the town of Beaver should be aware of a few things.

The Grandkids are all thatís left of the immediate family and we all live out of the state of Oklahoma. One lives in Maryland, one lives in Wyoming, and I live in Utah. With that said, the town of Beaver helped us out in many, many ways.

First Iíd like to give a big thank you for Alan and Joyce Clark for taking care of the funeral. Alan took care of us to every detail. The florist did a fine job on the flowers, and Cousin Dean Starr for all he did, and not to forget the fine lunch at the Baptist Church.

But the real reason for this letter is what happened during the funeral procession. The Police led us to the Cemetery, and were very respectful along the way. All the traffic stopped and let us pass by, but what touched me the most was when we passed the rodeo grounds there was a high school rodeo that morning and I saw young people stop what they were doing, pull their hats and stand with respect as we went by. To me that meant more than anything that could have happened that day.

I wish to commend all of the people at the fair grounds that day and the parents and elders for raising people with that kind of honor and integrity and I wish you would please print this letter in your next newspaper with my heart felt thanks.

As always and with respect,

John Vincent

Grandson

 

9-24-15

By Jim Reeves

It is midnight on a tiny island somewhere in the vast Pacific Ocean. Eleven men, some as young as eighteen, pile out of a tin Quonset hut and make their way to a silver aluminum four-engine aircraftóthe largest airplane in the world. The oldest of the group, the pilot, is maybe twenty-two and the pilot only by virtue of the fact that he is an officer.

Fast forward seventy years to a former army air base in the middle of a Kansas wheat field near Great Bend, as a preacher and his wife climb the cockpit crew ladder into "Fifi", the only remaining World War II B-29 bomber still flying and take their seats behind the pilot. Next, takeoff and a flight over the Kansas farmland at thirty-five hundred feet, the four, twenty-five hundred horsepower engines making so much noise that a person canít hear another person sitting right alongside.

As he takes his seat, the preacher experiences a sudden awareness of all those young men, baby-faced and fresh off the farm, who climbed into a metal fuselage held together by bubble-gum and bailing wire, with no heat or air-conditioning, and flew four eight hours through pitch dark nights, thirty-five hundred feet above a cold, unforgiving ocean. All to deliver a message to Japanófreedom is worth fighting and maybe even dying for.

Sitting behind the pilot high over Kansas in the same kind of airplane that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bring WWII to a close, the preacher is painfully aware of the criticisms that still surface from time to time about Americaís decision, specifically President Harry S. Trumanís to drop the bomb on two of Japanís biggest cities. "How can you justify killing one hundred thousand citizens just to win a war." Thatís cruel and harsh. Yes, it was and still would be, but what about the other statistics that nobody wants to talk about? The fact that the military leaders predicted that it would take at least four more years (eight years total) to defeat the Japanese or that those same military leaders were saying that at least one MILLION US soldiers would die on the first day alone if an amphibious assault was attempted on the beaches of the Japanese homeland. This was a war that America neither asked for nor wanted and every opportunity was given to let the Japanese military leaders surrender, even to the point of inviting Japanese observers to witness the test explosion of the atom bomb. The Japanese stoutly refused, saying they would be willing to fight until the last Japanese citizen died. A decision to sacrifice a hundred thousand to save a million or maybe even ten million. Yes, that was a tough decision.

More than all the historical facts, the preacher, as he steps back down on the tarmac after the flight, is honored and awed to be able to sit in those same seats as those kids (many had never been off the farm) had sat in. More painfully, he is stirred by the fact that too many people want to denigrate this country for its role in WWII, never willing to give thanks or even to recognize the sacrifices, not only of those who flew and marched, but also of those families that only received a folded flag as a thanks for their sacrifices.

That flight was Thursday and that preacher is still awed by all that it stood for and hopefully will continue to stand for. That preacher prays today for a leader in the Oval Office who has a third of the backbone of Harry S. Truman. That preacher prays for an American population that recognizes and appreciates the sacrifices made for all of us to enjoy the freedoms we have. That preacher prays for a people who are concerned when unborn live fetuses are bargained for instead of being more concerned about what happened on Duck Dynasty last night. That preacher wants to say to the young people of today, "Put away your I-phones and your I-pads and exercise something more than your thumbsóexercise your minds." America today needs a generation willing to show and practice a little common sense, a generation willing to sacrifice everything, maybe even life itself, to fight against those who would destroy us.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

9-17-15

By Jim Reeves

The Friday Night Alter Call. Thatís right, folks, you are welcome to attend the Friday night services at the Church of the First Down and Ten Yards To Go. Now, before any of you start throwing rotten tomatoes at me, let me assure you that I, too, am a fan. I just want to ask a few question of the faithful attendees of these worship services.

How is it that we can go to the Church of the First Down and spend $15 bucks or more on a ticket, a greasy slice of what is optimistically called pizza and a small cup full of ice with just a touch of soft drink, yet we want to complain when the pastor calls for the offering on Sunday morning? How is it that we can yell our lungs out to the point of losing our voice on Friday night, but we canít sing a note on Sunday morning? The Friday night worship service has all the right ingredients: loud music, bright lights, singing, shouting, jumping up and downówhy, we can get downright pentecostal about the Friday night activities, yet we can barely stay awake at 11:00 on Sunday.

We can sit on old wooden bleachers that are apt to collapse at any moment or on aluminum benches with no backs that are prone to collect a sheet of ice during the last game or two, but we complain about how uncomfortable the pews are with their cushions and backrests. We can scream and yell at the referees, but we donít want the speaker to get to loud on Sunday morning. After all, the air conditioning in the summer and the heat in the winter are liable to make us sleepy.

Hey, churches, I have an idea. Letís tear out the pews and put in wooden or aluminum bleachers on both sides of the sanctuary, facing the middle. Letís take up that old bright red carpet and put down some nice green AstroTurf or better yet, some real buffalo grass with white stripes. Letís dress the choir up in some skimpy uniforms and give them some pom-poms and teach them to yell during the call to worship. "Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar; all for redemption, stand up and holler." We could dress the preacher in a black and white striped shirt, give him or her a whistle, and let them run down the middle of the sanctuary to the tune of "Drop Kick Me Jesus"!

Huh? Huh? Whatís that dear? Wake up? Whew, thank goodness, I was only having a dream or maybe I should call it a nightmare. Lord, I think Iíll just stick with the faithful who show up on Sunday morning, hope that the message is heard by at least some of the attendees and let those other folks worship at that other church on Friday night. After all, I donít look good in black and white stripes and the image of the choir in cheerleader outfits is enough to cause me to have a nervous breakdown.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail. Brother Jim

 

9-10-15

By Jim Reeves

When I was growing up as a child, my family moved frequently, actually quite frequently. You see, my "old pappy" (as I have lately taken to calling him) worked in pipeline construction. Because of that, we averaged a move every six weeks until I went away to college. From first grade through my high school graduation, I attended 44 different schools in 26 states. Notice I said, "different schools", because there were some schools that I attended more than once. In fact, I attended school twice right here in Beaver, Oklahoma, way back in the late l950s. Thatís right, all you children, there are some people who are that old.

Some of you reading this might be tempted to think how horrible it was to have parents who would do that to a child. Why, for goodness sake, how could a child grow up with any friends? Well, much to your disbelief, I made hundreds of friends across this great land. True, most of them wouldnít know me from Adam if they were to meet me on the street today, but at one time in their lives and mine, they were my friends. One of the great lessons of that childhood was how to make friends and make them fast. After all, I wasnít going to be with them very long.

You might be tempted to say that it must have been terribly hard to keep up with grades in school. Well, I can tell you that it was and it wasnít. (Is that a paradox or an oxymoron?) I took Oklahoma history so many different times that I wasnít sure of my own heritage, but somehow never managed to completely finish that course. I took Texas history, Kansas history, Louisiana history, and a whole bunch more. Thankfully, I never took New York history, so I never was tempted to say that Pace Picante sauce was made in New York City. (Get a rope)

I can say that I learned geography, sometimes the hard way. I saw many of the places that other kids were only reading about in their school books. I read hysterical (oops, sorry, historical) markers from South Texas almost to Chicago and from south Florida to Utah. I heard dialects from the Cajun swamps to the high Rocky Mountains.

The shortest I ever stayed in one school was three days in El Paso. When youíre one of only about ten students among three thousand who didnít speak English, it was no problem for me to throw the key in the water bucket and move on. In my senior year, I finally said "enough" and went to live with my aunt in Lubbock, Texas in October, so that was my longest stay anywhere. I have the distinction of being a graduate of Lubbock Cooper High School with a senior ring from Eureka, Kansas. Go figure.

Sure, there were some things I missed, but there was so much more that I gained. I learned about prejudice first hand, whether it was prejudice toward blacks, Hispanics, or in my case, that "oilfield trash". Yeah, that was me. More than one teacher believed that surely I must have been mentally slow because of all that moving around and they couldnít figure out how I managed to make Aís and Bís all through my twelve years. I can tell them that it wasnít easy, but that was the standard that my "old pappy" set for the three of his children.

I learned first hand the meaning of hard work, starting out on the job during the summer of my tenth year. I learned that no one succeeds without setting the bar a little higher than it has to be. When you never know in the morning if you are still going to be living in that community come nightfall, you learn the true meaning of "adaptation."

True, I wouldnít go back and do it all again, primarily because the way schools teach now is totally different than when I was growing up. But I wouldnít trade those days for anything, because they shaped who I was to be. Iíve come to appreciate people for who they are, not for where they hail from or who their family might be. I have learned that to make friends, you have to first be a friend. I have learned compassion for those less fortunate because sometimes people saw me in that way and show compassion for me. I have learned to appreciate the teachers of this world who take the extra effort for that kid who might face a few more problems, and to feel sorry for those who looked down their nose at those kids who "interrupted their classroom" for maybe six weeks. I donít regret anyplace we traveled to, but I also appreciate the places I never got to live in. I know that the only constant thing in life is change and I can appreciate it more and handle it easier because it has been such a part of me.

Until next week, may the good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

9-3-15

It was with sadness that I, along with the rest of the country, heard the news this past week that former president Jimmy Carter has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Being a survivor of cancer myself, I am always hit hard when finding out that anyone, whether they are a relative, friend, or just anyone, has cancer. Of all the diseases in our world, there is no disease that seems to devastate as hard and as much as cancer.

As much as I like to poke fun at politics and politicians, this is one time when I would like to refrain from doing so. It would be easy to say that, being in his 90s, Jimmy Carter has lived a long life and we should be glad for him that he has lived this long. But it is more than just longevity that touches all of us when we look at this almost-forgotten man, who for four years, sat in the highest office in the land.

Whether you are a Republic, a Democrat, an Independent, or you just plain donít care at all, I would hope that all of us might recognize that, in Jimmy Carter, we saw what might very well be the most humanitarian, caring, gentle person to hold the office of President in recent history. The sad thing is that, in the typical world of politicians, Jimmy Carter was and is the a-typical politician. He was and continues to be honest and transparent. He dared, like John F. Kennedy, to see the world, not as it is, but as it could be. As a devout Christian, he dared to dream of a world of compassion, caring, peace and tolerance for all people, and he was slammed for those beliefs.

His ideals have never faltered, never wavered, never failed. Interestingly enough, he was and continues to be more influential in the world since he left office than he perhaps was at any time while he held office. Through the four years of his presidency and right up until today, he continued to teach Sunday School, attend church, give to the community, help to build new homes, new hopes and to share that often misunderstood smile with everyone he meets. While many of his critics and opponents thought him to be weak, he was and continues to be one of the strongest people I have ever watched, because his strength is in his faith. His strength is in his character. Oh, that we might see that strength of faith and character, not only in those who would seek to lead us, but also in those of us who will choose who we follow. May we, like Jimmy Carter, choose not to follow men, but to follow God.

Mr. President, my prayers are with you.

Until next week, may the Good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim Reeves

 

8-27-15

(EDITOR"S NOTE: We are running the FULL version of Mrs. Kerry Hamiltonís letter and poem dedicated to Mr. Jim Maynard, who recently passed. Somehow, we missed parts of it in the last few issues. We apologize to Mrs. Hamilton and now give you the full version. Thanks Kerry!)
Having Mr. Maynardís talent and inspiration here in Beaver was very much appreciated by all who have experienced his visits to the Beaver 8
th grade classroom. One of my students Tiffany Payne wrote a poem called "The Poetry Man" in honor of Mr. Jim Maynard:
Along came this man whom Iíd never seen.
Though his hands may be wrinkled
His eyes were full of gleam.
He brought along his daughter with auburn hair,
But I sure was glad that he was here to share.
Thatís exactly what he did , ĎSHARE" so very much. For 25 years Mr. Maynard came into my classroom in April, which is Poetry Month, during our poetry unit to excite Beaver students to dabble in a written art they might not have truly experienced.
I was first introduced to Mr. Maynard with a poem he wrote in the Daily Oklahoman, which does not use poems on their editorial page. His poem was about Governor Nighís $10,000 Christmas tree and $500, air-conditioned dog house. With "poetic license" he used the rhythmic elements of Mr. Joyce Kilmerís poem "Trees."Because Mr. Maynard was my mentor and encourager, I thought I would honor him with the mode of writing he adored, POETRY. (the poem is two pages)
A Poet at Heart
In my mind Mr. Jim Maynard was synonymous with the word "POETRY."
He motivated my students to let writing be powerful, fun, fancy, and free.
He came into my classroom and noticed some sentence diagramming on the board one day;
Later he brought me a poem about how important diagramming is for writing in the proper way.
Another year he spotted "Our Class Plan" and wrote an intense and rousing poem about it.
Every time he left my students were encouraged to write about everyday things with cleverness and wit.
Students would leave poems on my desk inspired by their visit with "The Poetry Man."
They found that any subject was ok because he had told them "Yes, you can!"
His yearly presentations were sprinkled with humor, sadness, and excitement.
My students learned that a grown man could use words in a special way and focus on what they meant.
When he read something he didnít write, they glimpsed a side of him that was fun to see;
He definitely endeared himself to the hearts of my students with his "Hawaiian Peace Sign" story.
The students sat taller to hear the letter he wrote to OU basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.
He admonished Coach for using inappropriate language during a televised practice and the damage done.
Using Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight."
He received a Sampson apology that stated, "My mother did the same thing," and knew he hadnít done right.
On several occasions he came in wearing his favorite Atlanta Braves hat,
And started with a memorized poem about a boy, girl, and dad with a baseball bat.
Words and how to use them to the best was what his poetry was all about
Letting words stand up and sometimes get our attention with a shout.
He brought to the Beaver 8
th graders valuable lesson about living and real life,
And how to savor our every day circumstances without bitterness and strife.
He talked of his experiences and losing friends in World War II,
And how he had forgiven the person who had stolen his Purple Heart too.
Whenever Mr. Maynard couldnít come any longer to the school;
My students would watch a video of him, and still learned about "Mr. Poetry Manís" writing tool.
He loved words and how emotional and expressive they could be,
And instilled in my students a love of poetry which is definitely lifeís answer and key.
We would write him a note, a poem, words of kindness, or something really nice,
And to his house I would also bring him a booklet of his poetry which was beyond any price.
Knowing he was still making a difference, his eyes would always wear a smile
As if he were back in my classroom again walking one more poetry mile.Mr. Maynard, itís now time to say good bye;
Iím sure with your angel wings you are writing a poem all over the sky
And certainly you are writing poetry for your Heavenly Father and Son.
Poems you will someday share with your earthly family and everyone.
Thank you, Mr. Jim Maynard, for all of the lives you have sprinkled with sunshine,
And you have definitely helped me with my writing and impacted everything that is mine.
You have found your treasures in Heaven and have reached your celestial home and way;
Your promising words and uplifting poetry will be ever present in our minds each and every day.
Kerry Hamilton

 

8-20-15

By Jim Reeves
 

My old pappy used to say to me, "Son, it is best to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool that to open it and remove all doubt." (Sometimes his wisdom flowed like a river. Other times, it dribbled like an aggravating leak).

Listening to the crop of presidential candidates, I am convinced that, if they ever heard my pappyís advice, they certainly havenít given it any heed. They have all opened their mouth and I have been left with absolutely no doubt. They have all talked, but so far, I canít find anything they have said to mean anything. In fact, I canít recall when I have ever seen a bigger group of would-be leaders who were as ill-equipped to lead as this group.

One wants to act like a baby and say, "If I canít be the partyís candidate, Iíll just start my own party and win." I guess if you have 10 billion dollars, you can start your own party if you want to. Another says she wants to be the candidate of "the common people." She also says that her and her husband were "flat broke" when they left the White House seven years ago. Yet, their income tax record for last year shows they paid $145 MILLION just in federal income tax! Gee, I would like to be flat broke like that. Has anyone figured out how much you would have to make to pay $145 million in taxes? Everyone wants to pretend that they are for the "common man", yet most of them are millionaires or better. If they really want to help the everyday working stiff, let them donate some of those millions to the Social Security fund or to the pay-off of the national debt.

Wendyís restaurants had a commercial a number of years ago where a little old lady sat in her car and yelled, "Whereís the beef?" I find myself also wanting to yell, "Whereís the beef?" Our politicians are constantly plowing the same old ground with the same old platitudes. All of them want the elderly vote, so they promise to strengthen Social Security and Medicare and to protect our retirement funds. They all want the military vote, so they promise to have a "strong defense." They all want to get the conservative vote, so they promise to cut government spending, solve the immigration problem, create more jobs, provide working moms with daycare, bring about better education, healthcare, lower pollution, and the list goes on and on.

One of the things a preacher learns very early is that it is impossible to please everyone. Too bad that politicians have never learned that. The simple fact is that our complex list of problems in this country is going to solved only when the people who want to lead us put forth some positive, concrete solutions (as difficult as they may be), and when the American public stops looking to a bunch of people in Washing who canít keep their mouths shut to solve all of our problems. The "common man" that all of these politicians want to appeal to has to be willing to take responsibility for their own well-being and to realize that there is no such thing as a "free ride." Sooner or later some one has to pay the bills.

America doesnít need more stale buns trying to taste like fresh-baked bread. What we need are some concrete, substantive solutions to our problems. What we need is the "beef".

Until next week, may the Good Lord find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

8-13-15

By Jim Reeves

With the economic collapse almost a certainty and looming soon, I have been thinking of ways that we might be able to handle it. I believe I have come up with a novel idea.

I think Texas should secede from the Union and take Oklahoma with it. The two states have a rich history of interaction with each other going back more than 200 years. Why, for awhile there in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the best football players at Oklahoma and OSU came from Texas and the best players at UT and Texas A&M came from Oklahoma. (I never could quite figure that one out).

For a moment, letís look at the positives. Between the two states, we have enough oil and gas that we could last for generations. We could form our own cartel and call it OTEC. We have more wind and solar energy available than almost anyplace in the world. We raise enough corn, wheat and other food products that we could almost be totally self-sustaining. We have more Wal-Marts between us than anywhere else in America. We could nationalize them and have it made. At a profit of a billion dollars a day across the chain, why, we could do away with taxes.

We have four pro basketball teams, two major league baseball teams and two pro football teams between us. When you start to think about it, we could have our own World Series and our own Super Bowl.

I propose that we name this new nation Texoma since we already have a Lake Texoma, and two communities called Texoma and Texola. Itís just a natural. Besides, Omatex sounds like something you put in a bowl and pour milk on it.

We could make everyone who doesnít speak "Southern" produce a passport and proof of their rabies shots. We could make the word "yaíll" the official greeting of our new nation and Bar-B-Que the national food (well, maybe chicken-fried steak.)

We could re-instate prayer in schools, put the Ten Commandments back on the courthouse lawns and put up toll booths on every highway coming in from "that other place."

Last but not least, we could build the national capitol on a platform over the Red River, thus ensuring that the new nationís capitol would never have to worry about flooding. Mud bogging could become our national sport and we could make anyone who wanted to become a citizen, spend a week in the panhandle during a sandstorm. That would cut down on the applicants.

As Tom Bodett used to say, "Come stay with us at Motel 6; itís mind-boggling". I guess that some minds are just easier boggled than others.

Until next week, may God find you riding on His trail.

Brother Jim

 

Thank you, Mr. Jim Maynard

Having Mr. Maynardís talent and inspiration here in Beaver was very much appreciated by all who have experienced his visits to the Beaver 8th grade classroom. One of my students Tiffany Payne wrote a poem called "The Poetry Man" in honor of Mr. Jim Maynard:

Along came this man whom Iíd never seen.

Though his hands may be wrinkled

His eyes were full of gleam.

He brought along his daughter with auburn hair,

But I sure was glad that he was here to share.

Thatís exactly what he did , ĎSHARE" so very much. For 25 years Mr. Maynard came into my classroom in April, which is Poetry Month, during our poetry unit to excite Beaver students to dabble in a written art they might not have truly experienced.

I was first introduced to Mr. Maynard with a poem he wrote in the Daily Oklahoman, which does not use poems on their editorial page. His poem was about Governor Nighís $10,000 Christmas tree and $500, air-conditioned dog house. With "poetic license" he used the rhythmic elements of Mr. Joyce Kilmerís poem "Trees." Because Mr. Maynard was my mentor and encourager, I thought I would honor him with the mode of writing he adored, POETRY.

Kerry Hamilton

 

By Jim Reeves

I had a grandmother who liked to dip snuff and was a hypochondriac, a combination which didnít always make for the most pleasant of visits. Early on, all of us grand kids learned not to ask, "How are you feeling, Grandma?" If you did, you were likely to get an hour and a half dissertation on every disease known to man and probably one or two that medical science wasnít even aware of. Grandma was simply someone who griped about everything.

It was from that grandmother that I came to develop what I call the self-fulfilling prophecy. It simply goes like this: The first thoughts you have upon waking up in the morning set the tone for how your whole day is going to go. If we wake up thinking what a very no-good, lousy, stinking, rotten, very bad morning it is, thatís exactly what kind of day weíll have. We could win the lottery and instead of being happy at our good fortune, weíll complain about how much the government is going to take for taxes. Instead of being happy that we have a job, weíll complain about how bad the boss is. As we go to sleep, weíll think how it was a no-good, very bad day.

On the other hand, if we wake up and our first thought is, "Thank you, God, for the gift of this wonderful day," then thatís the kind of day weíll have, no matter what happens. Our house can blow away, and instead of playing pity-poor-me, weíll give thanks because we were looking for a new place to live anyway. We can lose our job and still give thanks for a better one yet to come. We will go to bed giving thanks for simply being alive for one more day.

Going through a life-threatening motorcycle wreck and cancer that the doctor said I should have died from have both taught me to wake up every morning thinking itís the best day of my life, because itís going to be.

I could complain about Grandma being a hypochondriac and making me uncomfortable every time she wanted a hug or to give me a kiss, but instead, I would rather give thanks for a lesson she taught me: life is too precious to spend time complaining.

Until next week, may God find you riding on His trail.

By Jim Reeves

(EDITOR"S NOTE: Pastor Jim Reeves of the Beaver Presbyterian Church submitted a copy of his sermon from last Sunday (July 5) for publication. We found it extremely interesting. Enjoy!)

This morning we stand on the threshold of the 240th year of this great nation that we call the United States of America. Yesterday, July 4th, we celebrated the fundamental foundation of our homeland, that has come to be known around the world as "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Today, we find ourselves once again, as we have so often done before, weighing the meaning of each of those very words.

From that first flag, with its 13 stars representing the original colonies, to the proud flag that we salute today, with the 50 stars, America has been a nation seeking unity while continuing to recognize our diversity. Even the darkest days of the Civil War could not extinguish the flickering truth that we were and are and always will be Americans, one and all.

Throughout our history, men, women and children has come from the four corners of the glob to that beacon of hope called America, and with them came their diversity in culture, political views, language, and yes, even their religion. From the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, America has been foremost in the world as the place where all people could be accepted and live free. Free to come and go without hindrance, free to vote or not to vote without governmental pressure or interference, free to believe as they chose to do.

Yet, today, we find the very foundation of this great nation being challenged once again, as it was challenged when women were first given the right to vote, challenged as it was when during the dark days of the Civil War, challenged as it was during the days of the troubling Civil Rights movement, challenged as it was when the American Indians were finally recognized as equal citizens, challenged as it was when the Chinese coolies who built our railroads were considered second-class citizens or when hard-working, law-abiding Japanese were interned during World War II. That foundation has been challenged with every referral to chink, wop, spic, wetback, good, and yes, even the N word.

At no time in our history has the fundamental foundation of this country been more challenged than it is today. We are reminded of the words of President Thomas Jefferson, when he said, "The God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that those liberties are the gift of God? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."

So, as we begin a new year in the history of America, we find ourselves in a quandary. The beliefs of Christians are being challenged at every turn, from our right to pray in our schools and courthouses to governmental actions which fly in the face of our basic principals. If we are to believe the words of Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers who acknowledged, yes, who proclaimed fervently that this country was built on the providence of God and yet continue to embrace the acceptance of the diversity that has made us who we are, then how can we continue to be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" in the light of recent events?

This morning, I am reminded of the stirring words of another great American, Martin Luther King, when he proclaimed, "I have a dream." This morning, I, too, have a dream, a patriotís dream. For my heart stirs with pride when I reflect upon the men and women who have found for the liberties that we so often take for granted. All of the saints who have gone before us have given some and some have given all.

What, then, shall we give? This day, in this time, what shall we give? Must we give up the Christian values that shape our lives and the lives of so many other Americans? Must we go silently into the night, stifled because of who we are, because of the one we proclaim, or because of the values we hold as fundamental to life? The answer comes back unwavering from the Sovereign God who has blessed this nation above all nations and that answer must resound from the rock-bound coast of Maine to the sun-drenched coast of Californian and from the lakes of Minnesota to the Rio Grande. That answer must be a loud and firm, "No, we will not waver from our belief in and our adherence to the Word of God."

Yet, that very Word of God calls on us to "love our neighbors as ourselves", even when those neighbors differ from us in their beliefs and their practices. Therefore, this patriotís dream is, has been and always will be the mantra of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that we must love the sinner, but we are not to accept the sin. My dream this morning is that we, as Christians, can continue to proclaim and practice the love, mercy, grace and forgiveness that have always been the cornerstones of who we are, while at the same time never giving up or backing down from the Biblical beliefs that make us Christians first, and Americans second. My dream this morning is that the day will come and soon when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Finally, my dream can be summed up in this manner, "May God bless the United States of America"!

AMEN

The Rev. Jim Reeves

Beaver

 

                                    

 

 

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