Am I Welcome Here?

August 26, 2014

Last Sunday Pastor Allen’s sermon centered around the question Jesus posed to his apostles: “Who do you say I am?” The answer, from Simon Peter, was “You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God.” Pastor then went on to ask how many of us would be willing to make that claim. Would we unhesitantly stand by that assertion if asked by a friend, neighbor, or family member? What would our answer be if asked by a total stranger?

Naturally, my mind wandered on to other (hopefully related) thoughts. Would I not only say the words… but would I openly demonstrate my belief? If so, how?

I decided that I should do something my good friend, Ed Terry, did whenever he facilitated Bible study sessions. He would always leave an empty chair reserved for Jesus. Ed wanted everyone to know his Lord and Savior was always welcome. In my case, I thought we should always set an extra place at our dining room table – complete with dinner plate, drinking glass, silverware, and napkin.

I then remembered my bride and I had invited about 25 people to join us for dinner on Sunday. We’d be lucky to have enough room for those folks without reserving a space for another invited guest who may or may not show up.

On the drive home I shared my thoughts with my bride. Before I give her response, let me add another thought.

I have always loved “Fiddler on the Roof”. I have been deeply touched by a number of the songs and have felt the joy and agony of raising a number of children who have made me extremely proud most of the time, and a few times left me extremely disappointed. Being bearded and a bit overweight, I also identified with Tevye as a man who strived to do the best for his family.

But the one thing that has always stuck in my mind was the closeness between Tevye and God. Was it the prayer belt that reminded him that God was always present? Or was it simply his firm belief in the Supreme Being?

Whatever the case, I always admired a man who could maintain a constant dialogue with God. As often as I have tried to constantly remind myself of God’s presence in my life, I fall short. I forget He is there until I find myself in a hopeless situation and need to quickly ask for His guidance and help.

So, when I suggested to my bride that we should do something to let God know He (or She) is always welcome to join us for dinner or any other occasion, she reminded me that we already do. We have Nativity sets throughout the house; we have religious paintings, crosses, and Bibles in almost every room; and our bookshelves are full of books dealing with religious topics and spiritualism. Guests do not have to sneak a peek anywhere to recognize that we are Christians.

So, I guess our answer to “Am I welcome here?” is a resounding “YES!” But now that I have put it in writing, there should be no doubt. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

If I Were a Rich Man

July 8, 2009

I’ve often said that if I were a rich man I wouldn’t be one for long.

It’s easy to look at professional athletes and Hollywood or musical celebrities and question how they could earn so much money and end up without a dime. Some might even question the idea that they truly ‘earned’ their money… but that’s another subject.

For most of us, being five million dollars in debt is beyond our comprehension for anything other than a government entity. I still can’t understand how a company like Delta Airlines could lose millions of dollars in three months and be able to continue in business. Why would anyone continue to loan them money when they’re unable to break even… let alone make a profit?

I’ve looked back at my earnings over a lifetime and discovered that I did indeed earn more than one million dollars during my working career. I still have some of that money, but very little. Since 1966, I’ve had quite a few bills that had to be paid. And the government insisted in taking their share as well. Come to think of it, my net earnings over the last forty-five years were a good bit less than that one million. Between state and local governments and Uncle Sam, at least a third of my million was eaten up by the tax collectors.

Considering it took me forty-five years to earn one million, is it any wonder that I’m amazed by people who earn more than that in one week? And I continued to be amazed at how they could spend it faster than they could earn it… until my day dream of a couple of days ago that made me realize the realm of possibilities that go along with wealth.

I began thinking about winning the lottery. My thoughts were triggered by news coverage of a Georgia man who had won one million dollars. I couldn’t help thinking about what I’d do with that kind of money.

First of all, I ignored the chunk that would be gobbled up in taxes. (I don’t like thinking about such things.) Next, I thought of Hawaii and how much I’d love to go back for at least a two week vacation. Then, I thought of my sister, Gertrude, who has been to every state except Hawaii. I then thought how great it would be to take all of our children and grandchildren and how nice it would be to give each of our seven children a thousand dollars to spend however they wanted.

The islands are calling to me

The islands are calling to me

If you’re interested in doing the math, my bride and I have seven grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Six of our children are married. Thus, so far in my reverie, I’m taking thirteen adult children (unless my youngest son wants to bring a date, which would take us to fourteen), my sister (and a companion of her choosing), and Lu and I. We’re up to eighteen people (airfare, lodging, and meals) and I’m only beginning my dream.

Lu and I always have a great time with Lu’s sister Linda and her husband Tom. In fact, they were our traveling companions that last time we visited the land of Aloha. They have two adult children and three grandchildren. Let’s take them as well! That puts us up to about twenty-five.

I don’t want any hurt feelings, so let’s take my brothers and their families. The number is skyrocketing past fifty!

Now, the next consideration involves my sister’s not wanting to island hop unless we do it on a ship. She doesn’t want to pack and unpack every time we move to another island. So, let’s charter a yacht for two weeks. Then, we’ll have rental cars for each family unit on each island.

At this point I begin to think I need to win more than one million or try to get a loan.

I can hear the ukeles and Aloha is on my lips

I can hear the ukeles and Aloha is on my lips

Our trip would begin on the Big Island. We could fly into Hilo and board the ship there… except for my brother, Doug, who hates flying. We’ll have to start the chartered yacht in Seattle to appease him. If we all flew into Seattle and boarded the ship we’d save some airfare. But now, the trip will need to be expanded to allow for approximately ten days at sea.

Obviously, one million dollars won’t do it. We need more!

I think I’m beginning to understand how people can go through money like that. Day dreams are nice, but I think mine turned into a nightmare!

Perhaps being a wealthy man would be more trouble than it’s worth. My reverie has me doing these things without being asked. I’ve a sneaky suspicion that I’d have lots of people claiming to be my relatives who would want to help me spend my money.

Perhaps those wealthy athletes and celebrities have already discovered that little problem.