Two Temples

This week I am using Proverbs 22:6 in my devotional groups. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Although the people attending have already finished the work of rearing children, they remain exposed, delightfully so in most cases, to grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.  I tried to find information about the writer of this poem, “Two Temples” but all I found was her grave marker!  From that I learned that she was born in 1868 and lived until 1942.  She was the only daughter of Oliver Gray Hall, and his wife, Frances White Hall.  She is buried in Augusta, Maine.  Her works include a short, 62-page work, titled Songs of the Coast of Maine.  Her best-known poem is the one printed for you here.  I found it in my well-word volume cited at the end.  The message of the poem speaks for itself.

                     Two Temples

                                     by Hattie Vose Hall 

                               A Builder builded a temple,

                           He wrought it will grace and skill;

                           Pillars and groins and arches,

                           All fashioned to work his will.

                           Men said, as they saw its beauty,

                           “It shall never know decay;

                           Great is thy skill, O Builder!

                           Thy fame shall endure for aye.”

                           A mother builded a temple,

                           With loving and infinite care,

                           Planning each arch with patience,

                           Laying each stone with prayer.

                           None praised her unceasing efforts,

                           None knew of her wondrous plan,

                           For the temple the Mother builded,

                           Was unseen by the eyes of man.

                           Gone is the Builder’s temple,

                           Crumpled into the dust;

                           Low lies each stately pillar,

                           Food for consuming dust.

                           But the temple the Mother builded,

                           Will last while the ages roll,

                           For the beautiful unseen temple,

                           Was a child’s immortal soul.

page 392, The Best Love Poems of the American People Garden City Books, Garden City, NY 1936

Mrs. Jenks

In my youth my favorite person outside of the immediate family was Mrs. Jenks.  She was my first teacher in that one-room school, Chain O’ Lakes school.  Mrs. Jenks was about 30 years old, and she wore the prettiest shoes.  She had hair that always looked the same day after day.  She commanded a controlled but loving classroom and taught all eight grades.  She taught me how to read.

When Chain O’ Lakes closed after my sixth year in school, Mrs. Jenks was not without a job.  She went into town and taught second grade for many years after that.  It was she whom I consulted about teaching and her advice to me was, “Karyl, don’t ever teach for money.  Teach because you have a passion to improve the lives you teach.”  I’ve never forgotten her advice.  When I entered my own classrooms, I remembered Mrs. Jenks, her pretty shoes, and her winning ways, and most of all, her passion to improve others.

All of my teaching years were spent in Christian Education in church-sponsored schools.  When I see the school bus pass by my house at 7:30 each morning, and again at 3:30 in the afternoon, I wonder what those children have learned.  Did they have a Mrs. Jenks teaching them; did they have a teacher who did not teach for money but just for the sheer love of imparting knowledge and character?

We all had such love and respect for Mrs. Jenks.  She stopped teaching in my fourth grade year because she had a baby and I had Miss Kolka.  She was very tall, blond, and I remember that I liked and respected her too.  Then in the fifth grade, we had a grumpy teacher, Mrs. Hires.  I remember doing pages and pages of long division problems and Mrs. Hires was not energetic like Mrs. Jenks and Miss Kolka.  Now when I look back on it, she was near retirement age.  She lacked patience and had no passion.  She did her job methodically and we learned.  In sixth grade, Mrs. Jenks returned.  Her feet were still clad in pretty colored wedged shoes and her perfect penmanship filled the chalkboards that surrounded the front of the room.

School bells, busses, lunch boxes, crayons—I miss it.  God meant for me to teach.  It comes out of me naturally.  This morning I will teach one of my three devotional groups.  I’ll teach God’s Word as God has taught me.  If it does not touch me first, it cannot touch others.  We will sing and we will pray.  Like Mrs. Jenks advised me, I will teach with passion to impart truth. For many years I have depended on II Timothy 2:2 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also.”  I am happy to say that students I have taught are now teacher others, in fact, they have students they taught who are now teaching.  It started with Mrs. Jenks.

Addendum:  Parents, press upon your students the need for respect for your teachers, whether that teacher is in the classroom, Sunday school classroom, or on a video in live streaming on a computer screen, if they do not respect the teacher, that teacher cannot do all for the students that she could do otherwise.  A teachable spirit is so important.  Parents have a vital role to work alongside every teacher whether they wear pretty shoes or not.

The Rolling Stop

I live on a corner that has a four-way stop.  My mother used to sit where she could see the intersection and watch the cars pull up to the corner, and sort of roll through but never come to a complete stop.  It annoyed her to no end.  She declared that our corner was a money-maker for the city if the police would just sit back and catch the driving offenders.  Possibly.

This morning I saw something that actually alarmed me at the corner.  It was such a nice, pleasant morning that I opened the windows early.  As I did, I saw a school bus roll through the intersection.  Yes, I said, SCHOOL BUS.  Like my mom, I wanted to call the cops.  No school bus driver should bend the rules of good and certainly safe driving!

I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  As I mulled it over and over, a spiritual lesson formed.    Repentance is a peculiar thing.  Whether it is a deep, dark sinful habit that we are trying to reform, or something rather, well, respectable, all sin needs repentance.             I did a brief research on the words repent, repented, and repentance in the Bible.  In my King James Bible, I found the words used 101 times.  The most used Hebrew word means, “to sigh, to feel sorry” and the exclusive Greek word means to “think differently; to feel compunction.”

Rather than point my finger at anyone else, I pointed my finger at myself.  It did not take much soul searching to reveal some of those “roll through” sins.  If I keep shrugging my shoulders instead of thinking differently, nothing will change.

Nothing.

Oh, but I want it to change.

Time to repent.

Time to think differently.

Time to feel remorse over some of those seemingly “respectable” sins.

Robbery and murder are obvious sins.  People are imprisoned to give them time to reform, to repent, and repay society for their wrong doings.  But what about gossip?  What about gluttony? What about making an empty promise? What about a half truth?

Maybe you have some of those same struggles.  Let’s stop rolling through the intersections of life and stop short when sin lurks at the corner.  Stop.

Just come to a complete stop.  Then follow the rules:  stop, look, listen.

Victory over sin comes only stop sign after stop sign, after stop sign, after, well, you get the picture. Read Romans 6:11-14 for guidance. Together we can do this!

Gustav Fredrich Wegner, 1879-1959

I am feeling a lonely spot in my heart today.  It is my grandfather’s birthday.  Here is a excerpt from my journal about him.  I wrote it about two years ago, on his birthday, so that my grandchildren could know something of my heritage.  Grandpa read in his Bible everyday.  I remember many things about him because we lived in the same house.

“As I grew older and into my teens, I didn’t follow Grandpa around as much.  He would ask me to come work in the garden with him, and I did, but if he didn’t ask, I would bury my nose in a book.  Now I regret it.  Had I understood how much he loved me and wanted my company, I would have given up the pleasure of reading.  His steps grew slower and slower, and Dad opened soil near the house for a garden so Grandpa would not walk so far.  We all shared the garden responsibility then and Dad turned the field garden into potatoes each year.  We started to getting the potatoes up from the cellar for him to peel.  One of the last things I remember his doing before his stroke was sitting out under the box elder tree shelling peas from the garden.  The next morning he didn’t come downstairs, and when Daddy went to check on him, Grandpa’s speech was slurred and there was no movement on one side of his body.  Five days later he left us.  As I write this, a big  hole in my heart opened up.  I cannot hold back the tears.  That wonderful man is responsible for teahing me to appreciate simplicity.  I love him still.

Gustav Fredrich Wegner:  August 17, 1879 to June 5, 1959

Just offering you a piece of my heart today.

Help! Reception is Gone!

After three calls in one week, Dish Satellite finally scheduled an appointment for a technical representative to visit my property for an evaluation and correction.  Dish also credited my account for the several days that my television was not receiving local reception. I didn’t ask for that; they volunteered.  Good company.

During the course of many high winds and rain downpours, the satellite, I am told had moved.  The receipt/statement reads that the work done was repoint dish.   The fellow carried a ladder to the roof, he anchored some bolts that had come loose, and it is decidedly pointing a different direction just from my naked eye observation.  The signal is strong and even in rainfall last week, I did not lose reception.

It was not just one powerful storm that moved that dish.  It was many storms over the course of seven years that ever so gradually pushed the dish off course.  Little by little, a fraction of an inch at a time and finally the local signal was lost entirely.  So it is with me.  It is just fractions of time that causes me to lose sight of eternal things.  It is a little here, a little there, and it is an inch away from truth.  Then a little more here and little more there and it happens.  My mind is swayed by the culture of the day instead of the truth of God’s Word.  When the signal is in complete loss, I say, “Wait, No.  When did this happen?”  Listening to music that tends to take our focus off God and His ways, reading too much fiction, wasting time, playing too many computer games, and poof—the signal is weak or completely gone.

Ah, but it can be repointed!  Listen to the right stuff, read the good stuff, use the time allotted to you wisely, and that signal will be working in fine tune once again. Personal revival has taken place. The Apostle Paul gave the Ephesian believers serious advice in the imperative sentences:  “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)  Walk very carefully, as in living carefully, not as a foolish person, but as a wise person.  Evil surrounds us and would capture even our hearts if we do not stand guard over our attitudes and actions.

Repoint today if that is necessary.  Look in the mirror and give yourself a good scolding.  Repoint.

The Best Teacher Ever

Author Unknown.  (It is, however, published in a book listed at the end of the story—so I presume has copyright)

There is a story from many years ago of a primary school teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.

But that was impossible because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers. At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last.

However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise, Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…he is a joy to be around.”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful paper and tied with pretty ribbons, except for Teddy’s. His present which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to.”

After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets.”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer – the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course Mrs. Thompson did.

And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

————

This has to be one of my all time favorite “Inspiring Stories,” although I have no idea how true it may be. But, the fact is, Dr. Wayne Dyer endearingly refers to it as ‘The Teddy Story’ in his most recent lectures. I hope you enjoy it and are touched by it as well. – Pete Barkelew – Publisher

“America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great” (book review)

While this book contains numerous facts, it remains easy to read.  When it comes to nonfiction, readability is certainly important.  Unlike fiction, nonfiction does not tend to be “page turners” yet this book certainly kept my interest.

Carson uses United States History and the Constitution, and his own life experience to weave a book that arouses sentiment and patriotism.  Carson’s story is certainly an American story.  From; his childhood in inner city Detroit to the surgery rooms of Johns Hopkins is an amazing journey of determination. Carson is quick to give generous credit to his mother who forced him to read and the reading led to where he is today.  Mrs. Carson saw that he and his brother needed to stay off the streets and away from television. Carson says it in this book and I have heard him say it in interviews that there is no such thing as useless knowledge.

During the course of reading this book the reader is introduced to ideas regarding socialism, capitalism, Judeo-Christian thinking, education, health, and the morals of our nation.   He helps the reader investigate and think clearly about America’s justice system as well as our election process.  In short, it is a complete book.

It reads like a patriotic exposition and autobiography wrapped into a single volume. There were some surprises along the way that he reveals.  For instance, he and his brother were rascals to say the least.  His political persuasion also underwent a renovation and he tells why and how.

I read my version of the book on my Kindle® so there are highlights all over the pages.  It is also available in paper and ink, and even in audio.  This is a book that will last for years to come.  History teachers could easily incorporate it into lesson plans and at the same time, Sunday School teachers will find Carson’s story of conversion fascinating to use in lesson illustrations.

Don’t miss reading this book.  You may be able to find it at your public library, but I’d hate not to be able to underline and highlight if I read it as a borrowed book.

Eva

Eva is a sweet, sweet lady that resides at one of our city’s local 24-hour care facilities.  I visit there every week and Eva is in attendance every week possible.  Once in a while she has a doctor’s appointment, but otherwise, she is present for the devotional time.  Her age is unknown to me; she is probably in her early eighties.

Eva never married.  She was reared on a farm in the southern part of the county by a grandmother.  Whenever I mention the importance of daily Bible reading, she always interjects that her grandmother read the Bible every day.  She puts the sweet emphasis on everyday.  That sweet grandmother’s example is still having an impact on Eva.

Eva and I have something in common:  we both like sheep.  Her years on the farm in our county made her a keeper of sheep so we talk about sheep from time to time.  I love Eva.  She is now confined mostly to a wheelchair but she does use a walker in her room.  Her snow white hair is always carefully arranged and a smile adorns her wrinkled face.

Recently, when her medicines increased, she began having some digestive issues.  In spite of her long upbringing of being part of the “clean plate club” Eva has lost a considerable amount of weight.  She told me last week that she has lost 25 pounds and is down to 77 pounds now.  She gladly munched on some M & M’s that another person gave her during our time last Thursday.  “The nurses tell me I have to gain some weight,” she used as her excuse.  We all chuckled.

When it comes to her weight spiritually, Eva has lost nothing.  She is a delightful blessing to me and others.  When Eva speaks, we all listen.  She is kind and she has an unshakeable faith. She knows how to abide in the Shepherd’s Presence.  One day, when her work on this terra firma is complete, and mine is done too, Eva and I will bask in the Presence of our Good Shepherd and “talk sheep” for as long as we desire.  Did I mention to you that I love Eva?

I want to be like her.  Sweet, undemanding, unshakable faith.

Counteraction: Flesh vs. Fruit of the Spirit

Today (July 19) I have had time to think.  No noise, no responsibility, and time to think carefully.  This morning I heard a sermon on “Aimless is not Blameless.”  When I turned to the passage for this week’s devotional challenge I give at three locations, I found the word, strife; so, by putting the thoughts together I kept pondering on the blameless walk described in Psalm 101.  Strife is certainly not part of that walk.  That took me to my personal Bible reading which was in Galatians 4-6.  See, it pays to have quietness of mind and heart to put these things together.  (Smile)

All of that set me to wondering about those lists in Galatians 5.  There is a list of the works of the flesh in verses 19-21 and there is a list of the fruits of the Spirit in verses 22-23.  First I hand wrote the list into my journal.  After that, I took a fruit of the Spirit that would counteract each of those works of the flesh.  Sure enough, there is something from the list of fruits that will absolve the flesh desires!

I made a chart but I can’t figure out how to present it on the blog site.  You will have to make your own.  I’ll be using it with my devotional/study groups this week.  Sin is as ageless as the Garden of Eden.  The groups I tend to are elderly and one would think quite mellow.  That is not so, however.  As I age, I sure hope that I do not get as feisty and unpredictable as some of those folks can get!  It does help to have the peace of God that comes with conversion and living a life of following the precepts of God’s Word.  My heart aches for those who have rejected Christ’s salvation and now their aged minds shut everything out.  As in most dispensations of time, there is always a remnant—a small group—of steadfast Believers and it those whom I seek to encourage each week.  They love to sing, listen to God’s Word, pray, and enjoy the inspirational story I bring each week.

Now, before you age any longer, make that check list.  It will help you see clearly when you need to combat the fleshly wants whether it be for envy, strife, or something as subtle as quiet troublemaking.  There is an answer.

Walking in the Shepherd’s Presence is not always an easy path, but He is there to hold fast to you in times of wavering.

Rodney “Gipsy” Smith

March 31, 1860 was a day that years later became a happy day for thousands of people who would hear the voice of Rodney Smith. He was born in a gypsy wagon outside the village of Effing Forest, England. The unique life style of a gypsy often gave them a bad reputation because of the often misconduct where they encamped their wagons outside of villages. Often they cheated people and stole.

Rodney’s mother died while he was yet a child. The family made and sold baskets. Since he was a lively boy he often sold a majority of the family wares. Sometimes he would offer to sing for people and they gave him coins for the entertainment. In some places, he was known as the “little singing Gypsy boy.”

Rodney’s father came to know Christ along with his two brothers when they wandered into a Methodist camp meeting. Later when they were mistakenly arrested for tying their horses where a sign that read, “No Gypsies” because they could not read, they were put in jail. Their rousing singing and testimonies in that jail influenced the jailer’s wife and she came to Christ!

Rodney was a hold out in the family when it came to following Christ. One night he went apart from the rest of the people and surprised himself when he heard his own voice telling him to trust the grace of God for salvation! He was 17. Immediately he had a hunger to be able to read. One day he stood in front of a billboard wondering what it said. A lady passing by asked “Son, is there something I can help you with.”

“Yes, he replied, “tell me what that sign says.”

“Ma’am I really want to know how to read, how can I do that?” She patted his arm and told him that with such a deep desire, he could teach himself.”

Soon after that, Rodney purchased a Bible, and a Dictionary. Like his father, what Rodney heard, he remembered. It was a struggle to learn the letters and figure out the words, but little by little, he did teach himself to read. Although he never attended one day of school, he was honored later in life to speak to the students at Harvard University! Someone suggested to Cornelius Smith that he try to send his son to Spurgon’s school to learn more about the Bible, but it never came to a reality. Once Rodney learned to read, he committed large portions of Scripture to memory.

The bold testimonies of Cornelius and his brothers left a big impact on Rodney. He tells many stories about his father’s violin, and crowds gathered just to hear him play his “hallelujah fiddle.” He tells a story of a time when he was selling wares and a sudden rain hit. He dashed to the closest shelter of a shed and to pass the

time away, he took off his cap, kneeled on the ground, and prayed. Not knowing that he was being heard, and not knowing how long he was in prayer, he suddenly heard a “sniff, sniff” sound. There he was between his basket of wares, his cap, and being heard by the occupants of the house. He was embarrassed and hurried off and regretted later that he had not taken the opportunity to tell them of the Jesus to Whom he was talking.

A year after his conversion experience, Rodney met William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Booth liked the singing voice and eager testimony. Booth gave him a part in the ministry. While he struggled to learn to read so that he could read Scripture, he also sang and preached throughout England and some countries in Europe. He became well known for singing the song, “There is a Fountain.”

Eventually, he launched out on his own. By then he had met and married a wife. She was a great help and encouragement to him, but when he made his first trip or nearly 50 trips to America, he came alone. He had two letters of recommendation with him, and knew of only one name to contact. Smith found his way to the church to introduce himself to the pastor and found them in prayer. For three weeks they had been praying nightly for revival.

After introduction he was welcomed and scheduled to speak in a three-week campaign. Smith, in the book he wrote Gipsy Smith, His life and Work, by Himself said of that first meeting: The prayer meetings had started before I left England, and by supplication and consecration the people had been getting ready for my coming. They did not know it, and I did not know it. But God who brought us together did. From that meeting to many others, Smith sang and preached his way across America. Perhaps it comes from a question asked him regarding revival that he described revival in the best of terms:
He said, “Find a piece of chalk, and find an empty room. Go into that room and shut the door. Draw a circle on the floor with that chalk, kneel down in that circle, and ask God to start revival right there.”

For seventy years Rodney “Gipsy” Smith carried the Gospel across Europe and across America. On that first meeting he met Ira Sankey, that great song leader. He had met Sankey before but wondered if Sankey remembered it. On a drive on the evening before his first meeting he asked Sankey, “Do you remember when Mr. Moody and you were in London you came out to a Gypsy camp at Effing Forest?

“Yes, I remember it very well, and I remember meeting the converted gipsy brothers who were doing a good evangelistic work up and down your country.”

“One of these brothers, Cornelius Smith, is my father, and he is still doing the same work.”

Mr. Sankey was pleased to hear this.

I further asked him: “Do you remember that some little gipsy boys stood by the wheel of the trap in which you were driving, and that, leaning over, you put your hand on the head of one of them and said, “The Lord make a preacher of you, my boy”?

“Yes, I remember that too.”

“I am that boy.”

Mr. Sankey’s joy knew no bounds.

That little gipsy boy became fondly known as “Gipsy Smith” and is well-known today for his driving desire to see folks come to Christ. Thousands, tens of thousands of people came to Christ in his ministry. His illustration of the chalk circle is as appropriate today as it was in the latter 19th century and well into the 20th century as the recipe for revival. It is said that he did not know the exact date of his birth until after he knew the date of his New Birth in Christ. A family member kindly researched it for him and found it to be March 31, 1860. He left this earth in 1947 but somewhere in Heaven, he may well be singing, “There is a Fountain” with Lester Roloff and Curtis Hudson! May his life continue to be an inspiration.

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