Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Haircut

I came across a word the other day:

Presumptuous [pri-zuhmp-choo-uhs], adjective

It means failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate. It reminded me of a haircut idea I had when I was about eight or nine years old.

It was a rainy Saturday morning on Third Street. I was inside my house watching the Three Stooges on TV when I heard mom say she was leaving to go buy groceries, which meant dad would be charge of us five kids. He was given one chore to do while she was gone....haircuts for us boys.

At that moment a grand idea came to me. So grand, in fact, that I couldn't wait to do it. I wanted my hair to look like Moe Howard's hair. As soon as mom left, I went to the kitchen and searched until I found a bowl that fit on top of my head, right down to just above my ears.

"Perfect," I thought. "This will do!"

With the bowl still on my head, I went to my dad and asked him to cut my hair really short up to the rim of the bowl. "Okay, if that's what you want," he said laughing. When he finished, I realized quickly that, just as I had predicted, it was nothing short of a masterpiece!

I was so happy...and then my mom came home. Let's just say I had two haircuts that day. I also learned something pretty valuable. Surprising someone with something is not always a great idea.

Eventually, my mom relented and I was able to wear a bowl cut. Well, sort of. It was more like a burr with bangs, but that's a story I'll save for another day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

I Know Whom I Have Believed

"But I know Whom I have believed
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day"

This great hymn published in 1883 and written by Major Daniel Webster Whittle has been in my head pretty strong the past couple of days. Usually that happens it means it is something that I need to hear. I want to believe this is God's way of speaking to me. Is this something that happens to you?

Major Whittle wrote over 200 hymns in his lifetime, including "There Shall Be Showers of Blessings." Born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts on November 22, 1840, he worked as a cashier for Wells Fargo bank beginning in his teenage years and in 1861 joined the Union Army, where he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and later rose to the rank of Major.

In the summer of 1862, as the Civil War began to intensify, his unit was called to go South. At his departure, his mother placed a New Testament in a pocket of the haversack she'd arranged for him. A haversack is similar to a backpack, but with one shoulder strap. The New Testament would have a vital role in his life.

Wounded in battle, he was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp, where one of his arms was amputated. It was while in this POW camp that he began of to read his New Testament. One night a nurse informed him that a dying soldier from his unit was begging for someone to pray for him.

"I dropped to my knees and held the boys hand in mine," he wrote. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God's promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ's precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven."

Years later, Major Whittle began to write lyrics and, at the encouragement of D.L. Moody, entered into music evangelism. It was during this time that he wrote the words to "I Know Whom I Have Believed." The refrain is a direct quotation from II Timothy 1:12: "...for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."

"I Know Whom I Have Believed" is about many things, such as faith and how the Lord paid the price for our redemption. Most folk, including me, identify with verse four's theme of assurance. Assurance that, no matter what the days may hold, in heaven, I will eventually see God in all His glory.

"I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me
Of weary ways or golden days
Before His face I see

But I know Whom I have believed
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day"

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

1956, the Year of Elvis

Elvis Presley was born in East Tupelo, Mississippi on Jan. 8th, in 1935. His music career began in 1954 when he made his first recording at Sun Studio in Memphis. By the time 1956 had rolled around, he had scored his first #1 hit with "Heartbreak Hotel."

1956 was a year like none other for the 21-year-old singing sensation. Before "Heartbreak Hotel," he had only been a regional star. Both he and his new Rockabilly sound were unknowns outside of the South, but by year's end he would become a phenomenon, both nationally and internationally, like nothing anyone had ever seen before. His first two albums for RCA had both been million sellers. He appeared on national television eleven times that year, each one a pivotal event for America, considering the fact that his unconventional looks and his style of performing caused nationwide controversy, outraging adults and mesmerizing teenagers. Soon, Elvis would become the leader of a cultural revolution sweeping across the country.

His song, "Love Me Tender," came out on Sept. 28th that year. It hit \#1 on Billboard the week ending Nov. 3rd, where it remained for five weeks. Earlier that year, Elvis had signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures and because of the songs' popularity, his first film, was named after it. Released on Nov. 15th, "Love Me Tender," starred Richard Egan and Debra Paget, with Elvis listed as a co-star, the only time in his acting career that he would not receive top billing. The movie was originally to be titled "The Reno Brothers," but when advanced sales of Presley's song passed one million copies sold, the title was changed to match.

What was the phenom surrounding Elvis all about in 1956 and why did he take the nation by storm that year? In reality, a close look at his schedule that year suggests it was because of his work ethic. The man worked very hard, performing ninety-four concerts, making controversial landmark national TV appearances, including Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen and Milton Berle, beginning a movie career and recording songs like "Love Me Tender," "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Don't Be Cruel." But for Presley's female fans, his catapult to stardom in 1956 was based on something else: his deep, rich and incredibly sexy voice, his thick hair and his dreamy eyes, all combined with the way he performed on stage. It was a sentiment echoed by girl fans all across America and around the world, even here at home.

Speaking of which, on Nov. 25th of that year, with a new song hot off the press, and just ten days after the release of his first movie, Elvis appeared for two shows at the Louisville Armory. For anyone in this region who had been wanting to get a glimpse of the future king of rock and roll, this was their opportunity. Four members of my family....my aunt, Patsy Speck, and her cousins, sisters Johnnie, Fay and Betty Means, and their friend Neta Owens, attended the 8pm show.

Four days later, on Nov. 29th, the Clinton County News wrote that the four ladies spent the day in Louisville, first seeing the movie, "Love Me Tender," and then the live performance that evening. When asked to comment on his performance, the girls replied: "It was the most thrilling show in our life. We will never forget it as long as we live. Elvis was just wonderful. We all had a nice time." The girls reported that they had made pictures of Elvis on stage and standing beside his Cadillac. They remained Elvis fans the rest of their lives, the biggest by far being Johnnie. A visit to her home will easily tell you that.

For those four, and millions of others, the excitement level over Elvis Presley in 1956 was way off the chart, so excited that they probably never stopped to realize that there was barely a moments rest for the 21-year-old kid from East Tupelo, Mississippi. It definitely was a year like none other.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020


The dictionary defines 'motive' as the reason which causes a person to act in a certain way, or do a certain thing; an incentive, or the goal or object of a person's actions.

We need motivation, and I pray that in 2020 we find it.

Motive to live,
motive to laugh
and a motive to love.

Motive to listen,
motive to learn,
motive to lead
and a motive to follow.

But most of all,
a motive for others.
If we live for others we will have lived for God.

Find what motivates you in 2020!

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...