Category Archives: Editorial

Aunt Hester’s General Store: For Women Only-Men Not Allowed to Read This

As I was putting the final touches on my four-layer, really rich and creamy, double homicide, Chocolate Cake, it came to me, as I was licking the spoon, that a conversation that had just been finished in the General Store, needed to be shared with all you women out there. What we were discussing was the fact that it seems that the time has come for women to stop taking the blame for being the cause of some men’s inability to accept responsibility for their behavior.

This blaming women for the down fall of too many men, got its start in the Garden of Eden when Eve used her powers of persuasion to get Adam to eat from the tree of the Forbidden Fruit. And when Adam took a bite from that fruit, women have had to take the blame for Original Sin, being the temptress, the seducer, a user of feminine wiles, and the one that seems to have to accept all the responsibility for keeping themselves from getting pregnant.

There are dozens of birth control products on the market and heaps of controversy as to who should and shouldn’t have to pay for these products. Then comes the uproar regarding abortion and all that goes with that. And in most cases, if a young girl finds herself with child, she also finds herself with the responsibility of raising that child without a father.

Now, outside of the condom and the much feared Vasectomy, which when mentioned in a room of men, makes them even more nervous than a cat in a room filled with rocking chairs, there’s not much for a male to avail himself of to prevent getting someone pregnant. And come on ladies, how many young fellows or older men even let that thought creep into their minds when they’re being seduced and beguiled by all us wicked women working our charms?

On the contrary . . . there’s Viagra and Cialis, and other assorted enhancements to help the man with the dreaded Erectile Dysfunction. As it turns out, many younger men, without that problem, are using these products as recreational drugs. Not even caring that they can make you blind, give you a heart attack and cause serious damage to other parts of your body! We sent a man to the moon and we can’t come up with a Birth Control product for men? How much effort do you think has been devoted to the development of such a product?

And another thing, do any of you women think that after all the pain and suffering that rape, incest, and Pedophilia has caused after all these years, that any laws will ever get passed that would include Castration as a punishment for these horrible acts? Sure! That’s going to happen just as fast as a birth control pill for men.

For years, in these parts, and all over the world, women are not allowed to be preachers, priests, or to take leadership of churches and why? I’ve heard preaches say that it was because Jesus was a man and that all his Apostles were men. Well, Jesus was a Jew and then, women weren’t even allowed to be educated as men were. And yes, Jesus was a man, but God picked a woman, Mary to be his Mother! Yes, it’s said that woman came from a rib of Adam, but when it came time for Jesus to be born, God gave that honor to a woman!

Of course young women need to be responsible for not having children when they are children themselves, but young men need to be just as responsible not to make children, when they are still children. But it seems that young men are allowed to drop that responsibility for creating life because of the seductive nature of the female. As if males don’t have any control over themselves or an ability to be responsible for themselves, it’s always the fault, in most cases, of the female because she should have been raised better and not allowed it to happen. It’s never made an issue of the fact that the male wasn’t raised correctly. What is it they say? Oh, yes! They say, “Boys will be boys.”

Men can fight wars, move mountains, conquer the world, be preachers, priests, but when it comes to their decision making, they are just wimps when Salome dances around in her seven veils?

Fee, fee, fi, fi, fo-fo, fum

Look at Molly now, here she comes

Wearin’ her wig hat and shades to match

She’s got high-heeled shoes and an alligator hat

Wearin’ her pearls and her diamond rings

She’s got bracelets on her fingers, now, and everything.

Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress

Devil with the blue dress on

Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress

Devil with the blue dress on.

Darlings, when Adam was tempted, all he had to do was to accept his responsibility and say one word to Eve and that word should have been . . . NO!

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

 

 

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Jeremy’z Journey: Visions of a better world

We all have that wonderful thought in the back of our minds of world peace, even if the thought has become an overplayed cliché to talk about in our modern day. Sure, every president and pageant contestant talks about it in a speech at some point.
As painful as this might be for older readers to hear, when I was a child I thought John Denver music was just a tool of torture my dad used on us. I thought he put this and other albums-of-his-era on just for the sole purpose of laughing while we squirmed and winced. However, as my musical knowledge and age increased I came to enjoy many-a-tune of this beloved songster. Unfortunately, it was Denver’s death (1943-1997) that brought me to understand why people were drew to his happy, uplifting melodies.
One of the first Denver songs I was turned on to I read as a poem entitled “The Box.” “The Box” refers to peace by elegantly describing war.
“Once upon a time in the land of hushabye
Around about the wondrous days of yore
I came across a sort of box
Bound up with chains and locked with locks
And labeled ‘kindly do not touch, its war,’” the first stanza reads.
As we all know from living in this world, the box didn’t stay bound for long. In the song there were those who feared opening the box and therefore didn’t dare touch it.
“But someone did.
Someone battered in the lid and spilled the insides out across the floor.
A sort of bouncy, bumpy ball made up of guns and flags and all the tears, and horror, and death that come with war.
It bounced right out and went bashing all about, bumping into everything in store.
And what was sad and most unfair was that it didn’t really seem to care much who it bumped, or why, or what, or for.
It bumped the children mainly.
And I’ll tell you this quite plainly,
it bumps them every day and more, and more,
and leaves them dead, and burned, and dying, thousands of them sick and crying.
Cause when it bumps, it’s really very sore.
Now there’s a way to stop the ball.
It isn’t difficult at all.
All it takes is wisdom,
and I’m absolutely sure that we can get it back into the box,
and bind the chains,
and lock the locks,” the middle continues.
For those too young or musically uninformed, the whole lyrics aren’t represented above and it is definitely worth a Google to read it – especially with so many of us who are involved in war as these words are being typed.
While many of us know that it wasn’t just the Rocky Mountains that got Denver high, he made a very poignant observation about war. But to get rid of war all together takes something more than human desire for peace, or human understanding. It takes more than nuclear disarmament efforts from many nations. It takes more than a “peaceful, easy feeling” as Denver wrote in another song. It takes every country not thinking how great it would be to control the neighboring country; its oil; its wealth; its money; its markets; its grass that is seemingly greener until standing on it. It takes all individuals loving each other as Christ first loved us. Then the nations made up of those individuals loving every other nation as Christ first loved us.
The idea of a better, peaceful world is Biblical prophecy as well.
Both Isaiah and Micah described it in the prophecies they penned – Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 both start with the same words. While both are the same, for this we will use Micah.
“In days to come the mountain where the Temple stands will be the highest one of all, towering above all the hills. Many nations will come streaming to it, and their people will say, ‘Let us go up the hill of the Lord, to the Temple of Israel’s God. He will teach us what He wants us to do; we will walk in the paths He has chosen. For the Lord’s teaching comes from Jerusalem; from Zion He speaks to His people.’ He will settle disputes among the nations, among the great powers near and far. They will hammer their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will never again go to war, never prepare for battle again. Everyone will live in peace among their own vineyards and fig trees, and no one will make them afraid. The Lord Almighty has promised this,” Micah 4:1-4 (Good News Translation).
These verses of “days to come” say a lot, but the part that stands out is in verse 2: “He will teach us what He wants us to do; we will walk in the paths He has chosen.” Everything, and yes I mean everything, would be great in all of our lives if we were simply walking in the paths He has chosen for us. And our nations would truly be blessed if our leaders spent more time following God.
Personal peace comes when we follow Jesus. We, individually, will find peace when we accept the forgiveness of sin from Christ and walk His path for our lives. How do we know where His path is? By reading His Word; by dedicating our lives to Him; by praying to Him and relying on Him for our needs He will show us the way we are to go. He will take care of us along the way.
In Revelation 21, John talks about a new Heaven and new Earth. Free of sin it would be. Free of death and mourning it would be. Free of tears and pain it would be. A life with God Himself it will be.
“Then I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away,” Revelation 21:1-4 (New International Version).
How great that will be. The sweetest, most wonderful words in our world can’t describe the wonder and joy we will see when God brings us to His world.
If we allow Jesus into our lives, then and only then, can we become a child of God. This passage assures us that He will live with us in the Heaven He has prepared for us. Free of death; free of sin; free of pain; free of crying; free of war; free of mourning; free of hurt; free of injury; free of destruction; free of depression; free of pessimism; free of discourse; free of rejection; free of negativity and freed from evil WE WILL BE! Amen!

Aunt Hester’s General Store: Back To School

Yes, school has started again and for the life of me, I have yet to see the advantage of beginning school until after Labor Day. There must be a reason and for whatever the reason, it hasn’t seemed to improve the standard of education. The United States is 27th in the world when it comes to education and it’s a shame that the State of Tennessee is very low in the ratings in the United States.

Be that as it may, the other day, I had just finished making a batch of my chocolate-triple-infused-chocolate chip cookies, when one of my steady customers came in, sat down, and I could tell from just looking at her that she was filled with troubles. So I brought her a cup of coffee and some of my fresh-baked delights and sat down with her for a talk.

It took a bit for her to say much but then she commenced to crying and after she was done telling me what was going on, I just sat back and tried to come up with something that would be of comfort. The upshot of the whole situation was this: Both she and her husband were working hard. He about fifty-five hours a week and she about fifty herself just to keep their household running. They have a son and daughter in highschool, a big mortgage and they are paying payments and insurance on four cars and a cell phone bill that runs upwards to four-hundred dollars a month. And to top it all off, she had just charged almost two thousand dollars, on her almost maxed out credit cards to get those two teenagers ready for school in the hope that both of them would do more with their time in school and make better grades.

Before I said much, I asked a few questions: Did both of her children need a car if they were going to the same school? Why was the cell phone bill so high? And what had she spent so much money on to get them ready for school? She told me that even though the school bus stopped a few doors away, all her children’s friends drove to school. That her children’s cell phone usage was what cost so much. Then she told me that her son and daughter had to have the latest shoes and such, just like the rest of their friends. I couldn’t believe my ears when she told me that she had paid almost two-hundred dollars for her son’s shoes and a hundred and fifty dollars for a pair of blue jeans for her daughter!

I drank my coffee and ate my tasty delights just to keep from losing my perspective. Once I’d settled down, I listened to her tell me that she and her husband were living from payday to payday and that it seemed that his hours were going to be cut back and she didn’t know how they were going to make it. She also let me know that the whole situation was harming her marriage and that she and her husband were growing apart, bill after bill.

Darlings, you and I both know that her lamenting is not just the odd story, it’s pretty much what has been going on with too many families for too long. So, I asked, “Why are you not being honest with yourself and your children and allowing them to not understand that money doesn’t grow on trees?” She replied, “I want my children to have more than I did and I don’t want them to go without. Or to feel they are deprived.”

I told her that when she was a child, how much did she do without? Did she have two loving and caring parents? Did she have clean clothes and wasn’t she expected to go to school and make something of that time without being bribed with a car and clothes? Didn’t she acquire a good work ethic and learn the meaning of the true worth of things? Had she and her husband not received a good education that had allowed both of them to go to work and provide for themselves? Weren’t there things expected of her?

She wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and said, “Yes. But I wanted more for my children, for things to be easier.” To which I said, “Darling, what more can give to your children but your love, interest, and protection. What more can you give your children than love with honesty and truth? Do your children have any idea that while you’ve been trying to keep up with the Jones’ that the Jones’ have filed for bankruptcy and that’s where you and your husband are heading? And have your forgotten that prosperity can’t be bought, it has to be earned?”

We talked for a spell and when she left, I really understood that she was going home and for the first time, she was going to have, what we of the “Older Generation” know as a “Come to Jesus Meeting!” Yes, I know that I’m old-fashioned but I believe that too many of our children are being cheated out of a future that they will be better equipped to handle if they learn early on, just what it costs to run a household and how they can contribute to the family.

They need to know that just because you wear a label on your clothing, doesn’t mean you are what the label represents. Yes, I know all about peer-pressure and the need to belong, and fit in. But I also know that if you build character in your child, you build character into their futures. And if you give a child, too much of what is NOT important when they are young, they end up not being able to get what IS important when they get older.

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

Jeremy’z Journey: Steadily follow Christ and you’ll win the race

Remember the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon imitating the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. It happens to be one of my favorites, although the Looney Tunes in general falls in the favorite category. When Bugs goes flying by that lethargically sluggish tortoise and spins it around faster than a tornado and it makes me laugh every time.
“What a maroon!” Bugs exclaims in his standard hilarious mannerism.
But I recently come to realize this age-old parable applies to our Christian lives as well. Sometimes we want to speed by the rest of the world and quickly make our getaway to Heaven. But just as the carrot patch tempted Bugs, we too are often tempted to stray from the path. Following his bountiful meal and a nap, Bugs loses the race. So often we find ourselves sidetracked from following the path God has for our lives.
July 31, 1994 in a small upper room office of East LaFollette Baptist Church I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. In those brief moments of prayer, I could literally feel the guilt and conviction of sin being lifted off of my shoulders. That Sunday night, following what that church dubbed as a “fifth Sunday singing,” I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.
I had felt Him tugging at my heart for many weeks. Following the singing, the pastor ended with a time of invitation. This is a time when people are given the chance to come to the altar and clear up things with God in prayer.
As the first verse was sung, I held tightly to the wooden plank atop the pew in front of me. “I’m not going up there,” I insistently told myself.
The youth group usually sat closer to the front, but on this particular day we sat in the last two rows on the left side of the church.
As the second verse edged back into the chorus I thought, “I’m not walking all the way up there. I’m not walking past all of these people from the back of the church to the front. I’m not going to do it.”
Then the third verse came. “There are youth members, people my own age, on both sides of me. I’m not asking them to move. I’m not going up there. It’s not happening,” I again convinced myself.
Then a pause came. The piano player begins playing softer as the pastor begins to speak. “When is he going to shut up,” I think.
He posed the question, “If you were to die tonight, would you wake up in Heaven, or would you wake up in the Devil’s Hell?”
The pianist began playing loud again and the fourth verse of the invitation song ensued. At this point I’m clawing the wooden plank with every fingernail I have, nearly ripping the beautifully seasoned cherry-colored stain from it while pondering the eternal question of the pastor. By then I was just trying to hold on to the wood long enough to make it through the song without moving.
“Why did the music/youth minister choose such a long song and insist on singing all five verses?” I hear my voice screaming in my own head.
Finally! The fifth verse and chorus end and I take what I believe is my first breath since the song began. As we all begin to file out of the church, I remove my fingers from the indentions I had dug into the top of the pew in front of where we were sitting. As I neared the doorway leading outside, I stopped. Finally my heart said the first thing that made since all night.
“I’m not leaving this place like this. I’m not walking through that door. I’m not going outside; I’m going to accept Jesus,” it said.
I went to the youth minister and asked if we could talk and pray, and in those few minutes I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ; His love and forgiveness.
That was 18 years ago last week. As this anniversary of my salvation approached, I began looking at my life and the things I’ve done over those years since He came into my life. As mentioned in previous journeys, I spent many of those years away from Christ making my own decisions, living my own life and trying to win my own race. At age 17, I was sidetracked. I saw a beautiful spot to grab a few carrots for myself and take a nap. Unfortunately when I woke up thirteen years later, I found that my actions and decisions had caused me to all-but-lose the race of my young-adult life. Much like Bugs, I can only imagine how things would have turned out if I had stayed focused on God and the His path in front of me.
“What a maroon!” Bugs would say of how I conducted myself.
For those who are good at math: 18 – 13 leaves a little less than five years that I have been dedicated to Christ; and not all at once either. I followed the Lord closely for nearly four years following accepting Him and roughly a year ago rededicated my life to His will. Since then, He has led me through many things. He has reminded me that it was He that gave me the ability of written word and that I should use that ability to glorify His name, and not my own name as I have in the past.
While the many years away from His perfect plan for my life – years that I was in control – has caused many disasters, as always He has the ability to make the best of the messes we create. Looking back I can’t understand why I detoured from that path, but I know that I was only able to return to Him through personal prayer and through the prayer of others.
We all have had someone praying for us – that special someone who first showed us the love of Christ. And what a blessing it is when we, as Christians, get to be that example of His perfect love for someone else. Whether it’s our children, neighbors, friends or someone we just met. Regardless of the relationship, we pray for those who don’t yet believe that Christ came to Earth, died on a cross and rose from death to ascend into Heaven for us all. We do this just as others prayed for us before we believed. Those people were placed in our lives to lead us to Christ, just as each of us have been placed in the lives of non-believers around us for the same purpose.
Colossians 1:9, 10 reminds us of how we are prayed for by believers around us and how we are to pray for our acquaintances who have yet to accept Christ.
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” Colossians 1:9, 10 (New International Version).
Many apologies for skipping last week, but I was in reflection of this special time in my life. As well, I was experiencing much temptation, human arrogance and ignorance as evil, once again, tried to wave tasty carrots, naps and other sinful indulgences in front of me in an effort to, once again, make me stray from the path of life’s race – the path of His will.
While struggles were plentiful and sometimes my prayer was scarce, I looked to Him before it was too late and through prayer, belief and love was able to stay on His course.
Father God I thank You for those who prayed for me before I knew You. I thank You more for those who prayed for me to be led back to You. I especially thank You for Your love of sending Your son Jesus Christ and I especially thank Him for dying for me and my Earthmates that we might receive forgiveness of our sins by asking and accepting His love, compassion, forgiveness and grace. Most of all, I pray that the lessons You teach me and the words You give me for this writing can help someone else to come to know You or to come back to Your side. Amen!

Jeremy’z Journey: Traditions – Part I

Tradition – noun [truh-dish-uhn]
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2. something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.
Recently discussing tradition with a Sunday school classmate he brought this story of a woman he knew:
The woman would make her meatloaf, mix it up with the eggs, and other ingredients particular to her family’s recipe – the recipe itself being a handed down tradition for generations. She seasoned the meat and preheated the oven to the right temperature, just as her mother did. Before placing the loaf of beefy goodness into the pan to be baked, she cut the ends off of the meat log and then placed the remaining portion in the pan. Into the oven the concoction goes where it will cook into a delicious entrée.
“So I asked her,” my friend said. “Why do you cut the ends off of your meatloaf? Aren’t the ends the same ingredients as the rest of it?”
Without hesitation she replied, “That’s the way my mother does it and that’s the way I do it.”
Days later the woman, herself, became interested in why the ends of the loaf were cut off before baking. She called up her mother to get to the bottom of this meaty mystery.
Without hesitation her mother responded, “Well sweetie, that’s the way my mother did it and so that’s the way I do it.”
Still not satisfied with that answer, the woman dealt with this pickle in her head until Saturday – the day she usually spends with her grandmother at the nursing home. While visiting her grandmother, following breakfast and grandmother’s shower, the inquisitive cook decided to pose the question to the tradition’s originator. As she brushed her grandmother’s hair, she said, “Grandma, why do we all cut the ends off of our family meatloaf recipe?”
Without hesitation Grandma turned around in her chair, grabbed the hairbrush from the youngster’s hand and gave the proper response. “Well, I don’t know why you young-uns do it, but my pan was too short so I cut the ends off to make it fit in there.”
Three generations of meatloaf eaters were robbed of what could have been the end pieces due to a small pan that caused a tradition to start. A child watched and probably helped her mother making the recipe over the years and grew up to make it for her family exactly the same. This tradition transfers to the next generation and so on with no reason or explanation.
We humans have all kinds of traditions – things that are handed down from previous generations. Whether cultural, familial or handed down by heroes or other role models, we all have things that we’ve picked up from someone else and continue practicing them in our everyday lives.
On this journey, which is a two-part adventure, we will look at dictionary definition number 3, and dive into the tradition of sin. This tradition goes back to the first generation of humans – Adam and Eve. In Genesis, it states that Adam was given authority over all living creatures. I believe that meant he had the ability climb up high to check on the various species of birds, trees and fruit, as well as, dive deep into the river to watch over the aquatic life. But even with this, he, nor she, had the ability to withstand the power and deception of sin. That tradition has made its way into all of our lives. Generation after generation, we humans cannot withstand the power and deception of sin.
The tradition of sin is “a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting” without failing. None of us is without sin. Only Jesus Christ lived a life without sin, which is what gave Him the ability to shed His blood and forgive us of our sins.
Whether you have accepted Jesus’ forgiveness or not we all fall into traditions of sinning. While trying to live a Christ-like life, I find that there are certain sins that I used to be guilty of habitually trying to seep their way back into my life. In my former life, I had a particular sin that I had taken part in several times a day. This sin was higher than God in my life, thus making me constantly guilty of breaking commandment number one: You shall have no other God’s before me – Exodus 20:3 (New International Version).
Sin is a human addiction and we play right into its hands. Sin starts picking at our flesh and we scratch it. Sin takes that scratch and turns it into a scab. Sin takes that scab and turns it into an open wound. Sin takes that open wound and burrows itself beneath our skin. Sin digs deep into our bodies and manifests into our own destruction – scratching and scabbing and wounding and burrowing and destroying our soul from the inside out.
Sin is an inherited tradition. Sin was handed down from their forefathers to our forefathers to our fathers and now to us. Our brother and sister humans suffer from the same afflictions we have managed to overcome. We feel for them as we watch them cutting off the ends of the loaf, missing out on the best part. We feel for them as we witness them conducting the same sinful addiction handed down from the elder generation, missing out on the best part of life.
“Best part of life,” you ask? And, “Yes,” I reply.
We’re no longer talking about the best part of the meatloaf. The best part of life referred to above comes when Jesus forgives you of your sins, and points you in a direction that breaks your old sinful dependence and cravings and, yes tradition of sin. Following Him will dissuade you from entertaining those old customs and will veer your life toward new routines. He will show you routines of love and forgiveness; customs of Christian fellowship and friendliness; traditions of character and habits of prayer and praise to God. He will vindicate you in your triumph over sin’s enticement.
Does that mean you won’t be tempted by your old ways and habits? Does evil give you a free pass from falling back into the old you?
Absolutely not!
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ – Colossians 2:8.
This verse isn’t talking about the traditional meatloaf; it’s talking about staying on guard from people and things that will turn you from your walk with Christ. There will be those who handed the tradition down to you who want you to still take part in sinful customs. They will sin in front of you if you let them. They will show you sin; they will let you smell it and they will taunt you with it. They will bring up how much fun you all used to have sinning. But more than what they will do is what evil tries to do inside you. There will be thoughts of your old sin – thoughts that make you think it was more pleasurable to give in to sin. There will be thoughts of those handed you your first sin tradition, your friends or family who you used to sin with. The peer pressure those around you will put you through is nothing compared to the pressure evil will put you through trying to get you back into your sinful practices.
But if you look to Christ; if you hold steady; if you fail to waiver; if you don’t blink when confronted by your old sin; if you suffer through the tempting; if you continue to look to Him for hope; if you pray and persevere, then you will come through temptation with vigor; with strength; with power over your old sinful ways. Most importantly, you will come through it with Christ by your side and your sinful past behind you.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us – Romans 5:3-5.