Thursday, October 27, 2005

BLACK AND GUS

Black and Gus
By Janice Price


A television newscaster gave a spiel about Black and Gus as the station played a video of two black cows that got loose when the tractor trailer transporting them had a flat tire along the highway.

“There’s Black – or Gus, whichever,” he explained, while viewers watched one cow being led with a long rope around its neck turn right and head into the woods.

When he finished, the other newsman at the desk, asked innocently, “Is it possible those cows named Black and Gus were actually Black Angus?”

The first newsman laughed. “Are you thinking I might have misinterpreted something?” He shuffled his papers, looked closely at the print, and then realization dawned.

Oh, how I know that feeling. It’s becoming an ever more frequent companion as I get older.

Just recently my morning started off normally. I rolled out of bed, donned yesterday’s clothes, and took the dogs on their long, first-of-the-morning business trip. But that morning my back and hip hurt more than usual. Then my legs joined them. I cut our walk short, returned home and went on to other things. By late morning the pain was deeper. I felt I was walking with one foot on a step and one on the ground, but I did not have time to sit down and rest.

Then, while rushing through the house, I glanced down and – I felt much like the first newsman, the one who named the Black Angus cows Black and Gus. I was wearing two similar shoes. They looked almost identical from the top of the shoe, but one sole was thin and one sole was well-padded for walking.

I could empathize with the red-faced newsman. The difference was that he made his mistake publicly, in front of several million viewers. Except for those who might have noticed me hobbling down the sidewalk that morning, no one else was the wiser about mine – at least no one was the wiser until I wrote this story.

The Bible does not specifically warn us to wear reading glasses for delivering the news or to match the soles of our shoes before we put them on our feet, but it does give clear direction to whom we must look for salvation.

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven (Jesus Christ of Nazareth - verse 10) given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

Who is Jesus Christ of Nazareth?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God. John 1:1, 14, 34

Just to mention a few descriptive titles from the Bible, Jesus is named as the Son of God, Redeemer, Savior, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him (Christ Jesus – verse 5) and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11.

There is only one true Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Have you met Him, or have you been introduced to a corrupt and inferior depiction of Christ? He is not described in the Holy Bible as merely a good man, just one of the prophets, the brother of Satan, a created being, a homosexual, a married man, or the archangel Michael.

Naming cows Black and Gus or wearing two different shoes are minor embarrassing moments, worth a laugh and a roll of the eyes, and then forgotten. We can all identify with making mistakes that are not life threatening. But mistaking an imitation for the real Jesus Christ of Nazareth is no laughing matter.

Copyright 2005 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A PURR-FECT FRIEND

A Purr-fect Friend
By Janice Price


The bowl I am filling slides off the box of dog biscuits and rolls across the floor. Pieces of dry dog food skitter in every direction. Cyndi races into the room, sits at my feet and begins to purr. The kitten is a calming presence as the small pieces are located and collected. I can’t help but I’m here for you, she would probably say if she could speak.

** Friends know we’re klutzy and don’t remind us of it, but they’re there for us while we pick up the pieces.

When bad news of a friend is received, I am discouraged. Cyndi wakes from a nap, climbs onto my shoulder and, purring, snuggles next to my cheek. I’m here to comfort you, her action conveys.

** Friends recognize when we are discouraged and are willing to listen.

Cyndi leans against Merci’s leg as the dog is scolded for eating a comb. I’m sorry you made a mistake, her body language says, but I’m still your friend.

** Friends forgive us when we make mistakes.

It’s two a.m. and I am washing dishes. Cyndi sits on the washing machine next to the sink and purrs. Work gets finished faster when you have a friend to keep you company, she might say.

** Friends can make a tedious job fun, or at least make it seem easier.

As Cyndi hangs from my knee by her front claws, her bright eyes seem to be telling me, I’m here to chase away your pain.

** Friends give a hug, send a card or just quietly hang with us when we are in pain.

What constitutes a good friend? According to Jerome Cummings, “A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway.” Friends, as differentiated from acquaintances, see through the facade we adopt for society and accept us - “warts and all."

Cyndi is a purr-fect friend. I have church friends and social friends who are not so perfect, just as I am. And there is one perfect friend: Jesus.

Jesus tells us how to be his friend in John 15:12 -14 (NIV). My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

copyright 2005 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
www.mercyandpercy.com

Thursday, October 13, 2005

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

You Are Not Alone
By Janice Price


In my mind, I can picture Moses as he stood before the burning bush telling God he was inadequate for the task God was appointing him to undertake because he was slow of speech and not an eloquent speaker. I am not an eloquent speaker either, but I am definitely not slow of speech. In fact, when I am nervous, my brain goes into idle and my mouth shifts into fast forward. I was drafted as secretary of the neighborhood watch because I can take notes, not because I can read them at a speed they can be understood.

Like Moses, I would not voluntarily speak in public - particularly on a controversial subject - but sometimes we have to rise above timidity and speak out, perhaps even take action.

Several years ago, I lived in a big city, in an apartment complex with severe safety issues – things like broken outside cement stair steps, collapsing ceilings from a leaking roof, and water collecting in some light fixtures when it rained. None of us could afford to move, but something had to be done to spur the owner into making repairs he knew were necessary but refused to make. For reasons I won’t go into here, I made the decision to report the owner to the city, knowing I would have to stand alone. The other tenants could stand behind me in “spirit” only, and one way or another I would have to move.

Just as soon as the first inspector left, management began a campaign of harassment, intimidation and threats. It was one of the most terrifying times I have ever been through, but the city persevered and, eventually, the necessary repairs were made. By that time, I was living elsewhere.

Today, I live in a small city where the modern building code does not apply to this old mill house, built in 1926. My landlord and his wife are likeable people. I hate the thought of making trouble for them, but they do not respond to phone calls or letters about the condition of this rental house.

Eight months ago a tree branch fell onto the electric line, tearing the electric line loose and damaging the pole on the house. Last week I asked for something specific to spur the landlord into action. I was told, “The city electric company said if the pole is not replaced and another branch falls on the line, or with the right set of circumstances, the house will burn.” That is pretty specific. I left that message and the landlord has still not responded.

I am not in a position, either physically (my energy level has been at least six feet underground again for weeks) or financially, to move. And even if I could move before “the right set of circumstances” arise, a new tenant would move in who has no idea of the danger.

Everywhere I turn, I am told there is nothing I can do about this situation (a situation that is only the “icing” on the problems of the summer). So I asked a few friends to pray.

Vicki Gaines, a fellow Crossmap writer, posted a prayer request on her blog site. You can read “Calling all prayer warriors!” archived under October 11, 2005, on http://windowstomysoul.blogspot.com/ . I learned about this post from one of the messages it generated on my Mercy and Percy site.

I was touched to tears by Vicki’s concern and her desire for me “to feel the love of all the saints while experiencing the mighty provision of our Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides!)."

I was encouraged by her reminder that “our Lord is able to make a way when there seems to be no way.”

And her comment, “Jan, you are not alone!” - it was a reminder of that frightful time I did stand alone. Oh, David, an engineer, helped initially and he received well-deserved praise from his peers. Other friends prayed and neighbors gave moral support from a distance, but when I returned to the apartment, I was alone. I don’t know if anyone ever knew how absolutely terrified I was. I spent a lot of time in the Bible and in prayer through that ordeal. I can’t imagine what might have happened without God’s protection.

It is not necessarily a good idea to post a public prayer request without permission, but Vicki, thankfully, was discreet.

“Jan, you are not alone.” How could Vicki know those words would have a special meaning and be the most encouraging? She did not know. But God did.

© 2005 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
http://www.mercyandpercy.com

Thursday, October 06, 2005

CHANGING CHANNELS

Changing Channels

By Janice Price

Without taking a moment to don my reading glasses, I pressed the buttons to change the television channel. I pressed the buttons again and again. Frustrated, I shifted in the chair so I was leaning closer to the TV set, squinted at the small numbers and pressed them yet again.

Then, realizing the problem – and relieved there were no witnesses – I laid the cordless phone down on the desk and picked up the TV remote. I pressed the buttons and this time the channel changed.

I used to laugh at the stories of the absent-minded person who put the milk in the bureau drawer and the wristwatch in the refrigerator, or who arrived at the store with the credit card bill after mailing the credit card company the shopping list.

Only yesterday I was reminded that in order to cash a check, I should write the same amount in numbers as I do in longhand. The teller kindly told me, “Don’t feel bad about it. We see a lot of this.” She did not make me feel any the less embarrassed, but she did let me know I am not alone in being absent-minded, in too great a hurry, error-prone, or pre-senile.

Pride often keeps us from admitting to others that we make mistakes, especially whoppers, although we seldom mind telling stories on others’ mistakes. Comics love to tell stories on anyone, even themselves, and the more outlandish the greater the response from the audience. But writers – Christian writers, in particular – often write about their own experiences, including their own mistakes.

We do this to encourage others. After all, we goof big time and survive. Bloopers are a part of life, even stupid or klutzy ones, and they are not the end of the world. Okay, so you were half-asleep when you dressed this morning and attended a meeting wearing a purple polka dot blouse with yellow striped pants. There are worse things that could happen than to be laughed at by the self-appointed office fashion police.

We also tell stories on ourselves to show that when God is an integral part of our lives, we are constantly learning, even in everyday situations. For the most part, we exist in the mundane, only occasionally rising to the mountaintop. God teaches me through my pets, daily tasks, friendships, health problems, setbacks, victories – basically, through any situation that arises. I have to admit I’m not always paying attention or quick on the uptake, but eventually I catch on to what God is trying to teach me. Then, I write about it and share the lesson with others.

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. Edwin Schlossberg.

Often I think no one bothers to read the stories. Most people do not take a moment to email a comment on a story, but then someone will write about what a specific story “said” to that particular person, and I will be amazed at how God has used a story to help, encourage, convict, or teach someone something.

I remember hearing something to the effect that a minister gives more than one sermon at a time: the one he thinks he is giving and the one the congregation hears. Yes, one sermon can “speak” one thing to the minister giving it and something else to each of the listeners. The same appears to be true of the written word. One story can make one person cry, another angry, another contemplative, and another encouraged.

The best example of skillful writing that makes people think is the Bible. People love it, hate it, eagerly devour it, or destroy it. They are outraged or inspired by it. It is often misunderstood, misquoted, and misapplied, but it is enduring.

The Word of God is living, strengthening, and enlightening. If I try to change television channels with a cordless telephone instead of the remote, I have an embarrassing moment and a funny story. But if I want to know God intimately, I can not substitute any or all of the books on religion for Scripture. Other books can be helpful, but there is only one Holy Bible.

© 2005 Janice Price
mercyandpercy@yahoo.com
http://www.mercyandpercy.com