Category Archives: Editorial

Aunt Hester’s General Store: Taking Up of Serpents

Darlings, I’ve been listening and watching these past few weeks to the goings on at the Campbell County Commission and other places and I’m gob smacked by what I’ve been hearing and seeing. For months, I’ve been raising a ruckus about not allowing people to speak at the Campbell County Commission Meeting and being subjected to the intolerance of many of our elected officials. But, something else has gotten my attention.

Normally, I don’t comment on religion in this column because I don’t think you can Editorialize about religion as to how some folks want to practice their religion, their struggles with their faith, and how they view their world through their faith. Editorials are for commenting and pointing out some things that may have gotten lost in the shuffle; not preaching regarding The Teaching.

I’ve kept to this philosophy until just recently, but when I was watching the news and Campbell County was mentioned and what they were reporting and showing was a church here that once again, has applied the use of snakes in their services as an example of their faith in God and testing their faith, as a literal translation from the Bible. This practice is as simple as it is complicated because these folks believe that their faith in God is stronger than the nature of the snake to bite you when you fool with it!

And when a request was made that our Campbell County Commission make an effort to have the law against this practice withdrawn by requesting that it be taken up in Nashville, it became a subject to be discussed in an Editorial. By the way, the request to do so, was not passed.

This Taking Up of Serpents or as quoted from Mark 16:17, 18; has been practiced, discussed, and talked about for years in this area. But it started long before that when the snake was made a symbol of Satan. I guess if you’re afraid of something, giving it a name is what you do. I’ve never been afraid of snakes, but I do respect the fact that they are, just as I am, God’s creation and they do have a purpose. And it seems that the purpose, by some, is to make them a symbol of an evil creation. Of course, I don’t believe that but that doesn’t make those, who do believe that, wrong.

Just as some folks believe that if you don’t believe in Jesus the Christ, the way they do, you are going to hell! When I hear that, all I hear is their fear and not mine and the only way they can be right is to judge me as being wrong. How Christian is that? Did Jesus do that to people? Well, some folks don’t believe that Jesus the Christ was born a Jew and that he spoke to people and tried to explain to them the difference between the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. He spoke many times, in parables (a simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson). These parables, were not meant to be taken as something that was literal, a factual statement, but as a way of explaining something in terms that one could relate to.

It’s a known fact, the sincerity of some of those who have in the past, handled snakes, is genuine. And it’s also a fact, that many of these people have died as a result of being bitten by the Rattle Snakes they used in these services. It’s another fact, that people have been hoodwinked and scammed by some so-called preachers who have used snakes that had been defanged and their venom sacs removed. Others even injected themselves with small amounts of venom to build up a tolerance. I don’t believe that is the case here, but it does bring back a memory of my childhood, when my Mam Maw took me to a church in Duff to witness the taking up of serpents.

She explained that this was a test of faith. It being that God would not allow the venom to harm the handler of the snake if their faith was stronger. Well, we went and there a preacher jumping around with snakes in both hands and one of those snakes bit him almost in his eye. The preacher went down and I found out, that he was buried a few days later. Mam Maw took me home and I knew by her silence, that I shouldn’t ask any questions. It was weeks later and when we were out in her garden, a snake slithered between some tomato plants and when we didn’t react, the snake just laid there. Of course, I took that opportunity to say, “Mam Maw, I guess when that snake bit that preacher, God was speaking through the snake.” Mam Maw didn’t say a word as we both stood there and watched that snake, get a rodent that had been chewing on Mam Maw’s plants.

Because of so many folks being hurt, killed, and hoodwinked by this handling of snakes, eventually, laws were passed to prevent this practice. And what about the rights of the snakes? If they are a part of Creation, as we are, do they not deserve to be treated with respect and left alone and not to be used as a Symbol of Evil? Or as a test of true faith?

Are we really meant to test our faith in God with serpents, walking on fire, swallowing arsenic? Is such a test of faith God’s requirement or is that a human requirement?

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


Pat on Politics: Free speech

Yesterday I watched the video of this month’s county commission meeting. The night before Jerry Chadwell had already given me a partial blow-by-blow account when I ran into him at Pizza Hut. It was a fine case of our county government trying to restrict the ability of the citizens addressing the commission.

Now I know I give the commission a hard time from time to time. I was pretty rough on them when they’re sales tax referendum campaign information was not a good educational tool. I also give them credit when they at least try to do something right like Lonas Young Park (though frankly it needs a few things done to improve it).

Monday night somebody put “citizen’s input” on the agenda. Of course some time ago the commission took that right away from our citizens. Instead of honoring the agenda item the mayor was ready just to skip over it. Fortunately Jerry Chadwell was able to get the county attorney to rule on it.

Now here is where I truly have the problem. The commission was going to vote to remove this item from the agenda. What makes me even madder is that seven commissioners voted to remove it. I am willing to bet that had three of them not been absent then it would have passed.

This is another slap in the face to the good folks of Campbell County. Oh I am sure they do not want to hear what Jerry or Jim Slusher or whoever have to say because it is genuinely and often times correctly critical of them as elected officials. Heck I don’t care if Hodor the village idiot wants to speak I feel as a citizen he should at least be heard.

Jerry and Jim generally have good points to present to our local legislative body. I know some of it is critical of the squires (with respect to Boomer I love this title for them). But you know what? If you can’t take the heat you need to go ahead and resign from your seat right now. Hopefully if you don’t want to hear the citizens they will vote you out anyway.

I am sure Jerry and Jim are under their skin like chiggers at this point. But if it were not for Jerry Chadwell we would likely still have the Martin regime running our schools. The level of corruption he uncovered, and make no doubt about it Jerry uncovered it not Jeff Marlow, was staggering. Like him or not Jerry was a hero in this case and deserves some respect for it.

I do not know Jim Slusher on any sort of personal level, but from listening to him he is intelligent and well spoken. I can’t even say that for some of the folks on the commission. They simply do not like it when he calls them out on the way things are budgeted. Even if he is 100% in the wrong, which I personally believe he is correct, he still deserves to have his voice heard. According to what people have told me Mr. Slusher has stated he has no desire to be on the commission. That is a shame because I think he needs to consider it. He would certainly be a fresh voice.
I know the commission has a tough job. But they should not be such a bunch of babies about citizen’s being critical. In fact I would like to encourage all of you to show up at the next workshop and tell them exactly what you think of them good or bad. In spite of what commissioner White seems to think it is indeed the county’s business to hear from the folks that live, vote, and most importantly pay taxes here. I guess they all feel safe because they have two years left.

Jeremy’z Journey: Home Bible study bandit nabbed. What next?

So I’m sure many of you are aware that Charlie Sheen has a new show. Sheen portrays an anger management therapist on a channel number far above that of his previous show of sexual debauchery. Yes, I occasionally laughed at the three-or-1/3 rejects when the children weren’t in the room of course. More often I found myself absolutely appalled by most of the show. I also felt it ridiculous that this show was on television during the day and evening hours – times that children are awake.
Nonetheless, it’s Sheen’s new show that will help me get to the point. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes, but I can say it’s mildly morally better than the previous show and definitely better than the drug induced “winning” internet romps that followed it. I consider the new show to be along the same lines as Tim “The tool man” Allen’s newest network show, but I’m sure some will disagree. Sheen plays a divorced father whose sexual prowess and personal anger issues caused the demise of his marriage. He conducts group anger management sessions at a nearby jail/prison and also has another group he hosts in his home.
While I can’t foresee how the writers of the show will take the next turn, I’m pretty sure that it won’t involve the following scenario: Charlie, opposite Ed Asner and several others on the couch in his home are engaged in their regularly scheduled weekly group therapy session when a knock at the door is heard. Several police officers enter, taking the therapist (Sheen) into custody for violating city zoning ordinances for conducting business activity in his home which is not zoned for that purpose. The next sixty days of the show would be in closer contact with his anger-controlling prison group because that’s how long you have to stay in jail for violating a zoning ordinance along with paying a little less than $13,000 in fines — $12,180 to be exact.
Well that’s what happened in Arizona last week, except it wasn’t a therapist arrested or an anger management group disbursed from a home. That’s right folks. An individual was arrested from his Phoenix, AZ home for allegedly violating fire, zoning and safety codes by hosting a Bible study group in his home.
The story, as it was nationalized on FOXNews has received thousands of views, F-book “likes” and whatnot, as well as almost 1,000 comments. Most of the comments I read seemed to compare Nancy Pelosi to a monkey and stated that not even the ACLU would physically touch Pelosi. Not necessarily relevant to the story, but most likely true nonetheless. While it does show that a number of people were upset about this arrest, including the attorney who is taking up the case against the City of Phoenix, it seems there are significantly less people vocalizing concern about this than most of us might think.
As many of us mere humans can see, our world around us is going into the pit. News stories such as this one only confirm that feeling. The Bible says that in the last days this will get much worse while many shake their heads and wonder how it can get worse. According to the Bible – Revelation specifically – it will get much worse.
Once again pointing out that I’m not a certificate-holding theologian, and also pointing out that Revelation itself can be a lifelong study, I will refer to a couple of verses from the book.
“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” – Revelation 13:8 (New International Version).
There will undoubtedly be those who serve evil willingly while others will justify their actions by saying they serve no master other than themselves. These self-motivated humans will follow their own desires, just as most of us have been guilty at one point or another. However, those who choose this path satisfy evil without acknowledging it, because evil doesn’t care how individuals are deflected from God, just that they are sidetracked from Him.
While many Christians cringe at the sight and existence of certain sins, God is angered by all sin, as mentioned on the last journey. We try to justify certain sins and detest others as we place them on a list from greatest to least. God, however, only sees sin. Not a great sin, not a lesser sin, just sin.
Revelation calls for us to hold steady to our belief and waver little-to-none. As things will surely get worse across the planet before Jesus returns, the last part of verse 10 in chapter 13 gives instruction to believers living in those days (which could be today for all we know): “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”
According to news sources researched, Pastor Salman had been cited for various zoning, fire and safety violations at his home/worship area since 2009. While many believe this is an infringement of his right to express his religion freely on his property, others argue that he has drawn people into his neighborhood and into his home for the purpose of conducting church, which said property hasn’t been zoned for. As usually happens in this situation, it will be left to a court to decide.
I’m near certain that it will be decided in favor of Phoenix and that the Pastor will be found to be conducting a Church where it isn’t properly zoned for one. I’m more certain that the fines could be dismissed to a hand-slap if he agrees to stop holding the Bible studies at his home. But I’m definitely certain that none of this will be settled in court before the pastor spends his 60-days in jail as the AZ law apparently has required.
I would remind everyone that serving the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t always come with a pretty picture. Following the crucifixion of Christ, many of His followers were killed, jailed and suffered other atrocities for His name. But I can tell you this: followers of Christ may see peril in their lifetime here on Earth, but the blessings you will receive for following Him are far greater, and far outweigh any and all suffering during our physical lives. Not only the gift of Heaven after this life, but also the many blessings that He will pour upon those who are faithful during this life can be gained or denied by the will of the individual.
“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” – 1 Peter 4:16, 17.
The outcome “for those who do not obey the gospel of God” is also clearly stated in the Bible. Hell is the reward for those who do not obey the gospel of God.
But whether the pastor was circumventing the Phoenix law or not, shouldn’t he and those in his group have the alleged-American given right to freely worship God as they see fit? Shouldn’t we all have the right to worship God in our homes and allow our friends and neighbors to worship with us?
Absolutely! In fact the Church started in similar fashion. As followers of The Way devoted themselves to meeting in the Temple Courts daily, they also gathered together in their homes, probably inviting non-believers as well, to eat, and share stories and to freely worship God and His only son Jesus Christ as they wanted.
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:44 – 47.
They worshipped in their homes daily and the Lord added to their number daily. Saul of Tarsus was coming to arrest and kill them for this worship when God blinded him on the way over there, but that’s a journey for another day.
For those still shaking their head and wondering “What’s next?” for us Earthmates sharing this planet, Revelation offers comfort also. It’s the calm after the war if you will.
“They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers” – Revelation 17:14.
And after reading that verse and pondering it, there’s only one word I can say…. Amen!

Jeremy’z Journey: Will a man rob God?

Somewhere in audio cassette history is a recorded skit for Christian puppet shows called Pathetic Prayers. Pathetic Prayers were prayers that God should never hear from us. I remember one with the lead character Eggmont, a very small and meek sounding boy who once prayed that God would smite his bully “This Nelson Guy.”
However, the pathetic prayer called into mind today is one in which Eggmont thought he could put a dollar into the offering plate-uh and that because God repays good deeds ten-fold, that in a few weeks he would be able to get ten dollars back out of the offering plate-uh. I don’t remember the skit exactly, and unfortunately I couldn’t find it to listen to it again on the internet. Anyway not remembering this completely, what I remember is that Eggmont was praying as he laid his offering in the plate-uh that God would bless it ten-fold so that he could get $10 back, and that he would re-invest it in the offering plate-uh and over the course of several months of praying for ten-fold blessings, Eggmont planned to gain his ten-fold blessing of $1 million dollars, which of course, he would be able to take from the offering plate-uh.
Anyway, the original skit is an awful prayer that God should never hear, but the way Eggmont presented it was tremendously hilarious.
Ok. So maybe we don’t take money from the offering plate-uh. Maybe we don’t pray to be blessed ten-fold for our $1 offering on Sunday, intending to take $1 million from the church later. But we do rob God in similar ways. I’m not talking about robbing Him of proper offerings and tithes – although a premeditated hint would be that our scripture is about tithes and offerings—I’m talking about robbing Him of what He is due from our lives – our unwavering devotion.
As we go through our daily lives, how do we serve our Lord? Do you go through a day without mentioning God to someone, or do you go a day without praying and praising God for allowing you to wake up? To breathe? To be alive? Do you spend time each day praying and reading God’s Word? We, as Christians, can’t be a light that guides others to the true light of Jesus Christ, if we roguishly rob Him of our daily service?
Jesus himself told us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” – Luke 9:23 (New International Version).
Because of our obvious theft as individuals, our nation, founded on the principles of God despite what many claim, is also inherently guilty of denying God His due. A prophet of God wrote 400 years before Christ was born in the book of Malachi exactly how God is angered by this blatant disregard for He who is worthy of our worship.
“Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty – Malachi 3:7 In the Biblical occurrence of these words, the writer was talking to Jews who had turned away from being faithful to God. They were, as mentioned in Malachi chapter 1, promising pure animals for sacrifice to God but then bringing blind, lame and otherwise impure sacrifices.
But I think the verse above also relates true words about the United States of America, which is to say that “since the time of (our) forefathers (we) have turned away from (God).” But if we return to Him, He will return to us, as promised in His message of Malachi.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me.” – Malachi 3:8 – 10.
Sure, we seem to be a prosperous nation who has seen a slump, but a full-blown curse. As each new generation of Americans turns farther away from God, it can also be assumed that He will turn away from America in similar fashion. His blessings, which so obviously fell upon the American continent of our forefathers, seem to no longer fall on our nation as a whole.
Do I dare suggest that God doesn’t bless Americans? Of course not. God does bless those who faithfully serve Him. As mentioned along previous journeys, we have to have the faith to step out of the boat and walk with Him on the choppy waters of the world.
“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God, What did we gain by carrying out His requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’” – Malachi 3:14 – 16.
It certainly seems that those who relish money and power above God are prospering. While today’s modern society has justified what are called “gray areas” about what sin is, God doesn’t see it as gray. He sees it as black and white. While someone who murders may be seen as worse than someone who lies on a job application, a.k.a. “padding your resume,” it is all sin in the eyes of God. While we as humans may blur the lines between morality and atrocity, God sees the line clearly.
As the verses above state, some believe it is pointless to worship God and to follow The Way of Christ; however there are great rewards for doing so. We are to conduct ourselves in a manner that upholds our Lord. We are to give ourselves to Christ in service and devotion and love, and one of the many things we get in return is that He will show us selfish humans what it means to honestly serve, how to be deeply devoted and how to truly love others.
As the Apostle Paul wrote to early followers of The Way, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,” – Philippians 1:27.
If some deem it useless to serve God, then why should we continue to follow Him – to follow the straight and narrow path? He will bless us abundantly.
“Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” – Malachi 3:10.
But aside from the blessings we will receive, we will accomplish something far greater by robbing Evil. By faithfully following Him we will be a blessing to others who need one. By loving as Christ loved us, we will guide someone else to His love.
And what will become of those who are righteous in the Lord?
“They will be mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” – Malachi 3:17, 18.
It is so awesome; it is an incomparable heart emotion to know that you are His!

Jeremy’z Journey: Physical freedom losing; Freedom in Spirit remains untouchable

Independence Day, a.k.a. the Fourth of July, is a United States federal holiday commemorating the signing and ratification of the Declaration of Independence.
Sitting in a church fellowship hall, commemorating an anniversary of two people who had dedicated fifty years of life to each other I watch the line of a couple hundred people shuffle around the buffet tables. Three days before America is to celebrate its 236th year of Independence, we sit in what served as the main structure of this church for 91 of those years. These two individuals have dedicated themselves to each other for fifty years, but have dedicated themselves to God and this church for countless more than that.
Staring at my plate, I grab a quick little morsel of chicken casserole. Four little food-stabbing devices peer out from the end of the handle, so I increase the bounty by piercing a chunk of fried chicken. I then twirl and swirl this concoction through the flavorful juices known to all southerners as chicken and dumplings.
“Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmmm! Mmmmmmm,” I think as my taste buds are in overload from the trio of chicken produced flavors I just ingested on one fork. This one bite represents freedom, Baptist-style.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”—the Declaration of Independence.
The United States of America’s founding fathers’ dream was that all men should be free to pursue happiness, freedom and their own life. Whether conservative or liberal – whether Republican or Democrat, tea drinkers or other political party – we all must admit that America has traveled a long way from the cry for independence quoted above.
Men (and women) “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” however the Creator and those rights He gives all humans are assaulted by the same government bodies that first acknowledged them. Don’t forget the ways the Creator has been attacked, misconstrued, used for political gain, diluted, downplayed, up-played and then ignored by those seeking power in our political machine.
Most of us would agree, that there are those who strike freedom at every opportunity they have. Whether liberal or conservative, they all answer to their own ambitions, not God’s will for their lives or our country.
It was C.S. Lewis who said, “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
of its victim may be the most oppressive…”
Americans have been stripped of many freedoms they believe they have and stifled out of practicing other freedoms because exercising such might offend someone else. I find it ironically atrocious that the Ten Commandments hanging up in a small school in Appalachia can offend someone halfway across the country into suing to have it removed, even when the parents of the children at the school, the administrators at the school, the community around the school and others in the local jurisdiction aren’t offended by it at all. In this and many other instances, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has made it their mission to give small groups of individuals the right to dictate the freedoms of the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong, it was great when these groups were instrumental in gaining equal rights to vote, equal rights to seats on the bus and other equality movements. But now it seems these days those groups spend more time trying to attack our differences in an effort to make us all scared-into-neutralism, not freedom.
Americans are more afraid to exercise freedom because it may offend someone else. People, it isn’t illegal to offend someone. It isn’t illegal for someone to smoke within 3-feet of the Wal-Mart door that my non-smoking 2-year-old, 4-year-old and 8-year-old have to walk through, even if it offends me and makes me cringe a little on the inside. It isn’t illegal for illegal immigrants to gather on courthouse lawns with flags of their home countries, while claiming they have the right to be called American in their native language, not traditional American English. These attorney groups like the ACLU rush to defend the American rights of non-Americans who don’t want to be Americans, they want to turn America into their own country. These attorney groups rush to defend the rights of homosexuals to stand in the street and parade, but let a group of heteros get together, put on our single-colored, non-rainbow striped pants and scream at the top of our lungs, “We’re here; we’re straight; deal with it.” (All of our families immigrated from somewhere, so don’t get your multi-colored panties in a bunch. I’m not trying to offend; I’m just making a point.)
Seriously, where is the attorney multi-lettered group that stand up for those rights?
“… those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval
of their own conscience,” Lewis continued.
But who says it’s for our own good? Why must we all be neutral and afraid to say what’s on our mind; afraid to express our freedom? While our freedom to express freedom publicly is under bombardment, they can’t take away the freedom of our spirit.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – 2 Corinthians 3:17 (New International Version).
I think that was kind of what the founding fathers were leaning toward when they talked about Human-Americans having been “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Once you have the freedom of the Spirit of God, it can’t be taken away. While openly exercising our belief in Christ may be unpopular and offensive to some that unalienable freedom cannot be taken away. Sure, there are those in the Bible who were imprisoned for speaking and teaching about Christ, but the freedom from sin Christ gave those individuals is so powerful that they still spoke of, wrote of, and preached of this freedom in the spirit all the way to the end of their lives.
Freedom from sin cannot be taken away.
Jesus himself said, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” – John 10:29, 30.
God has given us ultimate freedom – freedom to accept Christ and forgiveness of sin, or to deny it. But accepting Christ’s freedom and forgiveness of sin does give us a “Get out of Hell free” card but it doesn’t give us a “Get out of Sin free” card.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature” – Galatians 5:13.
Similarly, the Apostle Peter wrote, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” – 1 Peter 2:16.
Just as our founding fathers wished that no one should take advantage of their brother to express their own freedom, God doesn’t want us to take advantage of forgiveness and continue to live in sin. But what are we to do with our newfound forgiveness, our newfound freedom?
Well, that’s simple. Jesus taught us this lesson over and over in His time here on Earth and Peter reiterated what we are supposed to do with our freedom.
“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the King” – 1 Peter 2:17.
Father God, we thank You for giving us Your Son Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sins and iniquities. We thank You for giving us best freedom of all, which is the freedom of Spirit. We cannot do anything on our own that would provide freedom from our sins, and we thank You for freely giving us the Way to receive Your forgiveness. We thank You for allowing us the opportunity to truly live as free people by accepting Your love; Your forgiveness; Your freedom. Amen!