Sunday, June 16, 2019

Daddy Defender


This little story about my dad tells of an occurrence that happened fifty-plus years ago. To me it’s a precious memory. I posted it last year and want to post it again, slightly edited.  “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy, in Heaven.”

Though most of Daddy's barbering was done in his shop, he was known to cut hair in many places, from Mission Beach, CA to Athens, GA & Seymore Johnson Air Force Base, NC --- from 1 year old great grands to 100 year old Uncle Tom.


Daddy Defender

 

    I walked into the restaurant to pick up a breakfast order for a group I was meeting with when I spotted my father’s old friend, eating alone at a small table.



     “Hi, Moose. Do you remember me?” I said, as I leaned in toward the small framed old man. 



     I do mean old man. Moose was ninety-seven years old at the time of this encounter. I had not seen him for a couple years and wasn’t sure how his memory was holding up. 



     “Of course, I know you, Connie. I’ll never forget the day you came in the barbershop and told your dad you were going to your horseback riding lesson.” Moose and I had had this very conversation many times before. He loved my father and apparently, he loved this occurrence from our distant past.



     I couldn’t hold back the grin as Moose continued on, rehearsing the story with amazing accuracy for a man so advanced in years. I listened intently to this friend, customer, and VFW comrade of my father. Since he had died a year earlier, I felt warmly connected to Daddy while in Moose’s presence.



     I left the restaurant with my mind full of memories of Daddy and friends like Moose and of going to VFW picnics and events at the old VFW hall. Mostly, I tried to recall, minute by minute, the incident at Daddy’s barbershop that day. I was always amazed it had left such a lasting impression on Moose.   

  

     The event at the barbershop occurred when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. On this particular day I had stopped by Daddy’s shop after school to report in and tell Daddy I was heading to my horseback riding lesson. 



      Daddy smiled and said, “Got your money?”  



      I nodded and he raised his clippers to wave me on.



      As I turned to leave, a customer who was waiting his turn for a haircut, spoke up and haughtily said, “You don’t have to pay money to learn to ride a horse.” 



     Silence fell over Central Barber Shop.



     Hands dropping to his sides, clinching comb and clippers, my father squared his shoulders, inhaled, looked the man in the eye, and with a slightly raised voice stated, “She earned that money herself and can spend it on anything she wants.”



     That simple statement settled the matter. After about half a minute of dead silence, the buzz of the other barbers’ clippers and the low talking of male voices resumed. 



     Glancing at Daddy’s flushed face, I left and prayed he would not have a heart attack over the episode. 



     While driving to the horse farm, I couldn’t help but wonder why the man made the remark. For a moment it made me feel small. 



     But thanks to my father, that was a short moment. With no hesitation, Daddy stepped up and took up for me in the face of ridicule.

   

     To people reading this, the whole incident may seem so small it’s hardly worth writing about. But to me, even fifty plus years later, I remember Daddy defending me that day. I left his shop holding my head high, knowing my honor had been upheld and that my father loved me enough to speak up even at the risk of losing a customer. 



Daddy and me - I was about 19 years old here
     Obviously, I’m not the only one the event left an impression on. Through the years, when Moose and my paths would cross, he almost always brought it up so we could share the memory together. The unspoken, yet most valuable component of our memory was the man—Rudy Edwards—his friend, my father.      
                                             

     Each time the barbershop incident arose, we were lifting up a man we both loved and admired. It’s amazing how such a brief moment in time can travel through decades and remain alive in the hearts of an old WWII vet and a now grandmother who was once the teen girl who never had to doubt her father’s love and loyalty. 


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Nominal vs. Actual Christian


Nominal vs. Actual Christian            

Are you a Christian? Are you a nominal or an actual Christian?

If you’ve been around Christendom for very long you likely have heard the term, nominal Christian. The Google definition of nominal is “existing or being something in name only … may vary from the actual.” Synonyms are minimal and token. *

On the other hand, actual is defined as “existing in fact or reality, … not false.” Synonyms are authentic and genuine. **

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE), founded by Billy Graham, defines a nominal Christian as "a person who has not responded in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord." The LCWE notes that such a person "may be a practicing or non-practicing church member …  He may give intellectual assent to basic Christian doctrines and claim to be a Christian.” *** 
Photo by Josh Felise from Unsplash

I propose that a nominal Christian is a Christian in name only and thus not a Christian at all, according to the whole truth of Scripture. Ultimately, it is God who defines Christian—not any man. He is the final judge—not any man.

But if a person is not quite sure, especially if they don’t know exactly what the Bible really says about being a true follower of Jesus Christ, then it is of upmost importance to find out. Since one’s eternal destination depends on it, it’s the most important thing about anyone’s life, because none of us know when we’ll breathe our last breath. 

The gospel writer, Matthew warns that in that day some will proclaim, “Lord, Lord,” but will be turned away from God’s Eternal Kingdom and hear God say, “I never knew you; depart from me.”

God knows the thoughts and intents of every man’s heart. He knows thoroughly every sin and motive. The final reckoning will be done by the God of Creation. Only He knows, with certainty, what each one has done with His Son, Jesus, who came to earth to redeem whoever would believe and receive Him.

With God as the judge, there will be no explaining, no rationalizing, and no arguing. There will be no opportunity for a change of heart or a change of mind. 

“And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV).

A few years ago, when my grandson was about fourteen years old, we were discussing the recent death of a family member. I mentioned that at least that person was a Christian so we could be confident they were with Jesus and we would see them again. 

My grandson said, “Well if someone is not a Christian when they die, they can decide to be one then, can’t they?” 

I was surprised at his words, because here was a young fellow who had gone to church regularly all of his life. I was grateful to have to opportunity to get him straightened out on this primary Christian doctrine. And he seemed grateful to have accurate information. This is a Bible truth of upmost importance!

Granted, he was young. But he was a church kid—one who professes Christianity. 

When discussing questions like, “Are you ready to meet your maker?” and “Are you going to Heaven when you die?” I have heard people say things like, “Well, I sure hope so.” 

Another frequent answer is, “Well, I’m a good person.” 

What would be your answer? Or, how have you heard others respond?
The above answers suggest a lack of understanding of what it means to be a Christian—a true follower of Christ Jesus. Hoping so indicates a lack of assurance. An actual Christian would know what the Bible says well enough to know where they stand. 

Here are suggestions of what to do if you are not completely sure, beyond a doubt, that you are a born-again Christian—if you don’t have assurance that you’ll go to Heaven when you die—I suggest you do these things:

1- Pray right now and ask God to lead you to the way of salvation.

2- Say “Yes” to Jesus. “Yes, Jesus, I believe You are who the Bible says You are. I believe in You and want You to live in me. Please help me live according to Your ways. In Jesus name, amen.

3- Read the Bible, especially the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Learn Jesus. Get to know Him. He’s your Savior. 

4- Get involved in a Bible believing church. Don’t just attend on Sundays. Faithfully attend a Sunday School class or Bible study. Become a part of what God is doing in your community through His church.

5- Talk with an authentic Christian and tell that person of your decision to follow Jesus. Beware, there are lots of preachers and spiritual leaders who are themselves not actual Christians. The blind leading the blind is not what you need. It is God’s desire that none parish in Hell for eternity. (2 Peter 3:9) 

God gives us free will and we each choose for ourselves what we will do with Jesus. Therefore, the eternal destination for each of us is our own choice. 

  
“What a heartbreak it would be to live an almost Christian life, then almost get into Heaven.” -Author unknown
 

Jesus said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8).  

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV).

Timothy proclaims that in the last days it will be common for people to commit many and various sins yet “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

The Apostle John said, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4 JKJV). 

Do you call yourself a Christian?  

Are you a nominal Christian or an authentic Christian?

When you pass through death’s portal and come face to face with the Living God, He will not ask that or any other questions because He will know. You will have already decided. Your decision to believe in and follow Jesus or not, prior to that moment, is all that matters. 

Please be sure you have the right answer. Eternity is a long, long time.

©Copyright 2019 Connie Wohlford

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Calmly Enduring (Patience)


Calmly Enduring (Patience)                    

You know what they say about patience—“watch out if you pray for patience, because then you’ll end up with lots of opportunities to need it.” 

I have really needed patience in the past few days. And it’s not because I had prayed for it recently. The need for it just came. Matter of fact, I was lambasted with a need for patience. 

My 1941 dictionary defines the noun, patience, as “the quality of being patient or calmly enduring.” * Google’s online dictionary adds, to “suffer without getting angry or upset.”

Also, a patient person is described as someone who “suffers pain, hardship, affliction, insult, etc., with calmness and equanimity; persevering; forbearing; waiting with calmness.” *

That word, equanimity, is interesting. It’s described as levelheadedness, mental calmness, and composure, especially in a difficult situation. 

I can say that, yes, I suffered emotional pain, affliction, and insult at the hands of another person and it was deliberate. The part about “calmness and equanimity,” I didn’t do so well. I think I would give myself a C-. I didn’t scream and holler or say something to the person I’d later regret (and hopefully I won’t), but I didn’t maintain mental composure either. 



I told our son, “Right now, I’m working on forgiveness.” 

He said, “That’s really tough when you’re still in the middle of the situation.”

How true. When a negative, hurtful situation is ongoing and we know we need to forgive—that we’re called to forgive—nobody said it would be easy. 

But God has not left us without help for difficult life situations that involve difficult people. We, who are followers of Jesus, have His very Spirit residing inside us. He’s there to guide us through dark places. 

We have the power of prayer to help lift us out of the snares of anger and unforgiveness. I continue in prayer for the other person as well as for myself. The thought, “but I deserve to be mad and I want to be mad,” must be worked through. It’s a process. God knows our thoughts and He knows our hearts. Kind thoughts and a pure heart are not automatic human responses—well, at least not for me. That’s why His mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and His grace is sufficient in all situations (2 Corinthians 12:9). Thank You, Lord!

Each morning, I post a prayer for children on my social media. On this particular day, the prayer (written months in advance) was for patience and read: “Lord, help my children learn to patiently wait on You, knowing You readily hear their heart cries” (Psalm 40:1).

After praying that prayer for my family, I turned to Psalm 40 in my Bible and read the whole thing. I was reminded that reading and studying God’s Word is another help God has given to help us navigate tribulations. This Psalm, written by David, is subtitled, “Faith Persevering in Trial.”

After reading the entire psalm, I was encouraged and reassured that God sees and knows every minuscule detail of all our lives. I realize I need to allow my Creator to enter into my hurt and anger-filled situation and help me handle it His way. When I step back, He steps in.

David certainly knew about trials and conflicts. Here is part of what he wrote:
“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.
“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. 

“He has put a new song in my mouth— praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.

“Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

“Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” (Psalm 40:1-5).
As we travel through dealings with difficult situations and difficult emotions, lets allow God’s ways to enter in and be our light and guide.

Prayer for Children - Connie Wohlford
His indwelling Spirit, our privilege of prayer, and His Word are provided for our benefit to help us live life in abundance. Our role is to do our part in relying on them. 

Another blessing from God in hard times is the counsel of godly people. Family, friends, small groups, and minister professionals are gifts from God who help as sounding boards, encouragers, and prayer partners. 

I’m grateful to my Creator for His provision in all things. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (NKJV). 

We usually think of this passage in relation to physical needs like food, clothing, and shelter. But it’s much more. His provision of unfailing love, amazing grace, unrelenting mercy, and unfathomable peace are provided for us in the here and now and will be intensified beyond our imaginations in God’s Eternal Kingdom. Glory be to God!  

How do you handle these kinds of situations? Your comments are welcome.

©Copyright 2019 Connie Wohlford 

*National Dictionary - 1941 Edition; P.F. Collier and Son Corporation, New York