Guest Writer: Aristides

QuestionMarkYou have to love this description. Be sure to notice the vantage point of this author. Do a little research and see who he was. Be sure to notice the date of the writing. Most of all, be sure to notice the vantage point from which you read. Are you (am I) a Christian? Does this describe you and me? cc

The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher
St. Aristides the Philosopher of Athens: APOLOGY

THE APOLOGY OF ARISTIDES THE PHILOSOPHER
TRANSLATED FROM THE SYRIAC VERSION
BY D. M. KAY, B.Sc., B.D., ASSISTANT TO THE PROFESSOR OF SEMITIC LANGUAGES IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH.

XV. But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search, have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the world which is to come. Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honour father and mother, and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols (made) in the image of man; and whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them, they do not to others; and of the food which is consecrated to idols they do not eat, for they are pure. And their oppressors they appease (lit: comfort) and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies; and their women, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest; and their men keep themselves from every unlawful union and from all uncleanness, in the hope of a recompense to come in the other world. Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and every hour they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him. And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another near. And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. And further if they see that any one of them dies in his ungodliness or in his sins, for him they grieve bitterly, and sorrow as for one who goes to meet his doom.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/aristides-kay.html

Guest Writer: Ally Cole Part 3

There are some evenings, as I become an old woman, that I reflect on the children and teens that I encountered during my day traveling or shopping and wonder how society will survive their coming of age. They are often self-willed, undisciplined and disrespectful. Today is not one of those days. Tonight, as the West Huntsville saints assembled, I learned that twenty of our young men are participating in the song-leading category of our congregation’s Lads to Leaders program this year. And they are doing a tremendous job. They are talented and diligent. What a wonderful world it will be at West Huntsville in ten years if even half of those bright young men end up making their homes in Huntsville! We have 11 great (not average, but really great) adult song leaders already and it will be a great day when all of these budding leaders are added to the rotation. Tonight, as I reflect, I am filled with hope. Of course, this is only one of the Lads programs and our other programs are brimming, as well. Our Leaderettes are stepping up to the plate in big numbers, too. I hope the Lads marry the Leaderettes and together they raise little Lads and Leaderettes all over again!

Speaking of young folks working for the Lord, here’s the final installment of Ally Cole’s story, “School Days.” I hope some of you moms have been using this for Bible Time in your home. Take the time to write Ally and let her know what you think. Blessings on your new week!

School Days
Part 3

A week had passed since the Harvest party, and every day at recess Donald would leave and then return just before World History started. Lacie wondered where the boy was going. Wherever he was going every day must have been a lot of fun, for him to miss recess! in fact, all the kids were wondering why Donald was disappearing every day. Finally , Terry just had to find out . “Hey, kid!” he said just before recess, “Where do you go during recess?”

Donald looked at the ground. “Wehh-yull, I’m a-seein’ somebody.”

“Oh?” Terry leaned in as if he were just about to tell a secret, “What, may I ask, is her name?”
“Umm, really I ain’t got time for this. She’s waitin’ for me right now!”

After Donald disappeared down the road, Terry spread a rumor to everyone in the class that Donald was seeing a girl during recess.

“That ain’t true!” Alice snapped, “We know exactly where he is right now!”

Terry snickered. “Oh yeah? Well then who is he seeing?”

Alice told him she promised Donald she wouldn’t tell.

“Yeah,” Amelia added. “We gave our word.”

Terry stomped off angrily, as usual. Lacie was beginning to wonder about Donald, and who this mystery person was.

“Maybe he is seeing his aunt!” Beth put in her two cents.

“No, no!” Lacie laughed, “He doesn’t seem like a close-family type of person…not to me, anyway.”

It was a crisp morning when the phone rang at the Winters house. Kacie ran down the hall to her mother to ask a question.

“Mother, Amelia wants to know if Lacie and I can go to their house! May we?”

Lacie’s heart sank. She was excited to see Amelia and Alice, but not their brother. She had had enough of him all week at school. She just knew he was trouble.

“Well, I suppose for a while,” said their mother. Kacie was pleased, but Lacie was dreading the visit. The two may have been twins, but they were polar opposites in lots of ways. But Lacie didn’t want to hurt Amelia’s feelings, so she decided to just put her own feelings aside and go.

The twins arrived at a big blue farmhouse that looked as if it was at least a hundred years old. It was beautiful, indeed, and so was the land all around it.

“Go on, Lacie. You knock on the door. I will do the talking.” Kacie pushed her sister in front of her. But there was no need for knocking. Just as the twins reached the porch, Amelia opened the door with a big smile on her face.

“Oh, come in, won’t you?” She led them to the kitchen, where Alice was baking bread.

“What good timin’! You know, now y’uns have gotta have some bread!” Lacie loved how cute Alice sounded with her southern accent. It was so funny how Amelia sounded as if she were from Switzerland.

“Oh, we may have just a tiny bit!” Kacie laughed, “By the way, where is your brother?”

“No, no! Why on earth did you ask that!” thought Lacie. She hoped he was with that girl or whoever it was he had been visiting all week long at school.

“Oh, he’s out in the barn. Alice, get him, won’t you?”

A few moments later Alice came back inside the house with her older brother. Noticing there were guests in the house, he took off his hat. “ ‘Mornin’, Kacie and Lace.”

“It’s Lacie,” she frowned.

Donald threw his hands into the air. “Oh, yeah I knew that! Hey Al, get us some bread, won’t you?”

Lacie was almost afraid to think Donald was kind of sweet…something about the way he said that.

After the bread was served, Amelia took the twins outside, to show them the land. Alice and Donald were right behind them. “Down there is where we plan to plant our crops,” Amelia said. “Where would you like to go next?”

“I have a question,” Lacie randomly and awkwardly said, “Why do you leave during recess, Donald?” She kind of hoped that would keep him away from her, because he immediately seemed uncomfortable.

“Uhm, well….Amie, why don’t you and Al show Kacie the orchard? I’ll explain later.”

After the three girls disappeared over a hill, Donald sighed.

“What’s the matter?” Lacie asked. “You can just forget I asked that silly question. It’s none of my business, I know.”

“No, Lacie, it’s fine. You seem like someone I can trust, so I’ll tell you. I—It’s just—I feel so misplaced at that school. Not like I feel here, where one good deed I do doesn’t become a bad rumor.”

At that moment, Lacie felt a bit upset. “Well, don’t think about Terry. He’s always been like that! Tell me, why didn’t you eat your slice of cake at the party? I mean a big piece of cake’s a rare treat at a school party.” Donald looked up as if studying the clouds in the sky.

“Uhm…like I said, I was savin’ it…for……………
my ma….she’s dyin’…..and it ain’t no little gal I’m seein’. I go to see Ma during recess.”

Suddenly, Lacie’s heart sank. Her pity for Donald showed in her eyes and she was filled with sadness for her own harsh judgments. She listened to him explain that his mother had pneumonia, and that it was getting worse by the minute.

“Oh, I am sorry to hear that! But why didn’t you just say so in the first place instead of making us wonder? I mean, even I thought you were looking for attention.”

“Aw, come on!” Donald smirked, “I ain’t no attention grabber! That was why I didn’t want to tell the class about Ma. She is the one who needs the attention, not me.”

“How much longer does your mother have?”

Donald told her that the doctor said maybe a year, but no one could be sure. Lacie just sat there and stared at the ground, full of remorse for all the mean things she had thought and even said about Donald.

Remembering what Caleb had said earlier, she sighed, “Oh, Donald I am just so sorry that I misjudged you! Can’t I make it up to you?”

“No,” Donald shook his head, “Y’uns have been kind enough to me already, Lacie.” “Oh, please,” Lacie grinned, “Call me Lace.”

Another week passed by and and Lacie shared with Kacie and Mrs. Colley the truth about Donald’s mother. By the end of the week, everyone had a different perspective about Donald. Mrs. Colley had Terry lead the prayer and include the Pershing’s. She also had everyone form a line and give them each a hug before class was dismissed. When it was Darla’s turn to give Donald a hug, she looked at him and said, “I am sorry. We love y’uns!” (Darla and Alice had become fast friends during the past few days.)

After school was over, Caleb and Hannah made an effort to see Donald. “You know, we’re so glad to know troopers like y’all!” Caleb grinned. “We’re praying for you and your family at the Colley house. Can we do anything for you?”

“No sir,” Donald shook his head, “Prayer is all we need right now.”

Hannah had been in the field, picking a bouquet of roses. “Here,” she handed Donald the bouquet, “Tell your mother the Colley’s are thinking about y’all.”

The harvest time had turned out to be a wonderful season at the little school, and Lacie had to admit to Beth that she was wrong.

“Now I told you that you can’t write his character in your imagination like a storybook, didn’t I?”

Lacie smiled and nodded. She was just proud to have great friends like Beth, Kacie, Hannah, Caleb, Ben, Amelia, Alice——and Donald.

THE END

Things to think about:

1. Lacie was sad that she had judged Donald harshly. Have you ever judged someone harshly or before you knew all the facts? Read I Samuel One and find where someone judged another person before knowing all the facts. In Matthew 1:19, there was a just man who decided something before knowing all the facts. Who was this?

2. Why do you think Mrs. Colley asked Terry to lead the prayer? Does prayer ever help you decide the right thing to do?

3. ”Prayer is all we need right now.” These words of Donald’s describe so many situations that people experience. Can you think of someone in your congregation for whom you really can think of little else to do but pray? Is prayer a small thing to do for others or a big thing? Why?

4. Have your children email Ally Cole at missourirebel19@gmail.com and let her know how they enjoyed the story and how they would change it if they were concluding it themselves. It will be fun for Ally to hear from them!

Guest Writer: Ally Cole Part 2

Can I ask you to remember the family of my dear friend, Hope Shull, in your prayers this week? She won the victory over the disease of cancer earlier today as she went home. Her sweet husband Donald and her boys, Will and Allen, need our prayers, as well as her daughters-in law and her two sweet (and well-loved!) grandchildren. May they all live for Him so the reunion one day can be complete. In her last few days of life, Hope took the time to write me a long letter in her own hand. Her letter was crafted to encourage me, something she did frequently, and always successfully in her life. I treasure that letter I received last week and I will sorely miss her encouragement. I love her parents, the Barbers, too, and I am keeping them close in prayer.

This installment of “Bless Your Heart” is different from most previous posts. It’s the second installment of a young lady’s fictional story.

During the past three years or so, I have come to know a budding young writer named Ally L. Cole. Ally lives in Missouri and is thirteen years old. She loves to sing and play the guitar and has a keen interest in all things World War Two. She’s home-schooled, loves her co-op group and her family in the Lord. She loves her pot-bellied pig (in a different way, of course) and she doesn’t like to eat pork (Now why does she not like bacon?). She’s an inventor, artist, paintball prodigy and amateur movie producer. She loves Polishing the Pulpit and this year she plans to attend Horizons at FHU.

I have taken the liberty, with Ally’s permission, of doing a little editing of all three chapters of this story. Some of you moms (with kids around the ages of 7-12) might want to continue this tonight for your Family Bible Time. Let me know if your children enjoy it and we may share another story at a later date. Find the topics for discussion that I (cc) added at the end of each segment. I hope they are valuable in making practical applications for your home and family. You may want to save those for a second night or maybe even discuss them for the next two or three nights. May God bless Ally and all of the children and teens who are growing up in Him! Thanks for the story, Ally! Remember me, your first publisher, when you are rich and famous!

Next time…the exciting conclusion!

School Days
Chapter Two

Finally, it was time for recess. “Why don’t we go meet Amelia and Alice?” Lacie asked.

Beth. Amelia and Alice were sitting under the oak tree in the schoolyard, and they seemed rather excited to meet the two friends. “Don’t take us all wrong. We’re so glad you are here,” Lacie said. She wanted to make sure Amelia know she and her siblings were welcome.

“Oh, I know that. We are glad to be here, too. And, believe me, my brother doesn’t always behave this way. He’s a fine brother, really.” Amelia pointed to Donald, who had been walking toward the dirt road. Alice’s eyes widened. “Now where’s he a-goin’?” By then, her brother was running down the road, and almost out of sight.
“Excuse me,” Amelia sighed, “I need to get my brother.”

As she and Alice chased after Donald, Terry had been observing the scene. “Hey! Tell your no-good brother that I said to keep going and to never come back! Hahaha!”
Everyone in the schoolyard wished Mrs. Colley had heard Terry’s cruel statement, because she would have put a hickory switch to him so hard it wouldn’t have been funny.

“Poor Donald,” Beth suddenly said. But Lacie had absolutely no pity for him. It was, in fact, Donald who had punched Terry over a silly incident, and now he had run away like a coward.

“Really, Beth,” she smirked, “I think he’s a faker. I can’t imagine his accent being real. I mean, nobody can talk like that for real, can they?”

“Lacie, you are ever so prejudiced! Why, we haven’t even met the man!” Lacie loved how her best friend referred to people of all ages as adults and how she used such big words. Beth’s best subject in school was English, whereas Lacie was better at World History. The two had so many dissimilarities, yet they were the best of friends. Both of them were just plain sick of Terry Mauldin’s rude behavior. He and Jeanette were never going to leave school, as Lacie’s six year-old cousin Darla would often comment.

A while later, Amelia and Alice came running back to the schoolhouse, gasping for breath. Lacie and Beth were on their way to ask what had happened to Donald, but the two sisters bypassed them.

“Mrs. Colley! Oh, Mrs. Colley!” They hurried to the picnic table where Mrs. Colley was enjoying the Good Book. “I hate to tell you this, but—–Donald ran home and said he wasn’t going to be here for the rest of the day. I am ever so sorry, ma’am.” Luckily for Donald’s sake, Mrs. Colley was a kind and sincere woman.

“Well,” she put her hand on Amelia’s shoulder, “Just be sure he is back by Thursday. I know he wouldn’t want to miss our annual Harvest costume party!” Parties were rare at the schoolhouse, so everyone usually made an effort to go.

“Oh. Then—-alright.” Amelia was faking her smile. She was indeed, surprised. Alice, being amazed as well asked, “What’s the matter, ma’am? Ain’t you gonna punish my brother?”

“No, Alice,” Mrs. Colley chuckled, “I believe I have punished him enough for the day!”

Thursday had finally come, and the twins were excited! So excited. Kacie told her sister she was going to wear her Aviator hat. “Oh, don’t be ridiculous!” Lacie sighed, but Kacie didn’t seem to understand. “Oh, come now, Lacie. It’s Harvest time! Why don’t you wear yours?” By the time the twins went out the door into the crisp autumn evening, they both were wearing their Aviator hats!

They met Beth at the end of the road, where she, too, was wearing a rather comical hat. “Oh, how adventurous you two look!” she exclaimed. The twins and Beth lived three miles from the schoolhouse. Their greatest fear was coming back from the party through the tree-lined grove near the cemetery—–on the darkest, scariest night of the harvest. There was no telling what would pop up out of the shadows after dark.

“Now, I know there are no such things as ghosts, but how can you be sure?” Beth quietly asked. They were about to go through the bright and sunny tree-lined grove that would turn into Haunted Grove at dusk. “Well, I-I’m not sure, but one night I looked out my window and saw this gossamer-looking creature floating around in these woods, screaming as if it were in such horrible pain. I bet it was a ghost from Bradley’s cemetery over there.” Beth, hearing this bit of scary news, hid behind Lacie.

“Really?” Kacie, on the other hand, had no fear whatsoever. “Oh, come now! Be realistic won’t you? I do not see a single gossamer-looking thing anywhere, sis! Now come on! We are going to miss the party and we will have to face this so-called Haunted Grove in the dark!” Kacie, being fearless, marched through the grove as if she were leading a parade.

When the girls had arrived at the schoolhouse, there were dozens of children wearing costumes of something festive for the occasion. But Donald, Amelia and Alice. just had on their regular, everyday school clothes. “Hey, don’t worry. You guys look good enough to scare anyone!” Terry snickered as he served himself a big piece of chocolate cake.

“Count Dracula,” Lacie whispered to Beth, “That’s who he is.”

Mrs. Colley noticed the girls had arrived at the scene and she came to them. “Oh, it’s so good to see you all! Would you like some cake?” There were so many treats on the table, and they looked delicious. “Here you are,” Mrs. Colley handed each girl a slice of cake. “Oh, I need to get the Pershing children some!” Amelia and Alice grabbed a fork and ate their pieces of cake, but Donald took out his handkerchief and wrapped it tightly around his slice of cake.

“What’s the matter, Rebel? You too good to have your cake and eat it too?” Terry joked. Donald was uncomfortable already. “No. I’m saving it…..for……never mind.”

Lacie didn’t understand Donald. He seemed as if he wanted attention constantly, and yet, at other times, it seemed he wanted to just blend into the woodwork. But Beth said, “You know, we really need to meet him and find out about him instead of writing out his character in our imaginations like a storybook.” Deep down inside, Lacie knew her friend was right. But she didn’t want to admit to herself that she was wrong. She hated to be wrong!

“Well,” Lacie finally said, “why don’t we? But I am warning you, Beth, that boy is going to be a big problem in out school!”

Beth , being such a kind and considerate person, greeted Donald with her cheerful and jolly smile with Lacie dragging along behind her. “Hello there. I don’t believe we have introduced ourselves,” Beth curtsied, and Lacie rolled her eyes, “I am Bethany Marie Wheeler, but you may call me Beth.” She paused and waited for Lacie, who had gotten distracted by some other kids playing across the way. Beth hit Lacie in the ribs with her elbow and smiled again.

“Ow! Oh, yeah, and I am Miss Winters.”

“Nice to meet y’uns. I guess you know my name. I didn’t catch yours. Is it Lace?”

Donald did in fact seem like a rather nice person, but Lacie didn’t want to take any chances. “It’s Lacie, and that is what you may call me.”

After Beth and Lacie raced back to the willow tree in the school yard, Beth sighed, “You know, he does seem alright. He is much better than the description you painted!”

But Lacie didn’t think her best friend was all that funny. “Oh, really, Beth! I know he is up to something. I can just feel it!” But even to Lacie it seemed too nice an evening to spoil with bad feelings about other people.

“You know,” Beth giggled, “Sometimes romance begins in the strangest ways. I wouldn’t be surprised, when you grow up, if you marry the man.” Lacie was not in the mood for this kind of humor.”

Finally, the party was over, and the twins and Beth were strolling down the road. “Huh!” Kacie looked up at the sky, “Imagine that? It looks as if it will be dark by the time we hit—–The Haunted Grove!”

Beth was worried half to death. “Oh, no! I hope we don’t run into anything scary. I mean—the dark is scary enough as it is!”

Kacie was right. The moon had just come upon the girls when they saw the cemetery sign and the tree-lined grove up ahead. “Okay, you big chickens, let’s go.” Kacie began to walk through the silent grove. Of course Beth and Lacie didn’t want to stay behind, so they slowly followed Kacie through the Haunted Grove.

They were just about through the grove when they suddenly heard a loud and haunting wail. “Ohhhhhh!” Beth exclaimed, “It’s the gossamer-looking creature! Oh, I can’t look!” She hid behind Lacie and Kacie, who were a bit frightened as well. The noise kept getting louder and louder, coming closer each minute, when, all of a sudden, they saw something white…sort of a floating cape. “It is the gossamer creature!” Beth screamed.

Suddenly, there was a snickering sound and the girls recognized the laughing voice. It was Terry, hiding up in a tree and dangling the sheet. “Haha. Man, girls are crazy! You should have seen your faces!”

But Beth was angry. She grimaced and stomped over to the tree. Looking up, she shouted, “You don’t know how anxious we are to get home, and then you show up! I do believe you are a fine haunting monster.” For once in his life, Terry was speechless, and the girls walked on.

“What is he doing down here? He doesn’t even live down this road!” Lacie asked.

Beth shrugged. “I know what he’s about! He wanted to scare me. He knows how much I am afraid of noises in the night!” Knowing Terry, Beth was probably right. He loved to pick on kids who lacked confidence in something or expressed fears.

“Someday,” Kacie shook her head, “…just someday I am going to retaliate and he will learn his lesson. I sure wish his parents would teach him with a hickory switch!” How relieved Lacie and Beth were when they reached the and of the Haunted Grove.

“Well!” Beth sighed, “I’m glad to see that scary place behind us! I was getting a bit worried. Where are we? I can’t see a thing!” Lacie shaded her eyes from the bright moonlight. Far ahead were Mrs. Colley, Caleb, Hannah and their friend Ben in a carriage.

“Mrs. Colley!” Lacie exclaimed, “Wait up!” The three girls rushed to their friends.
“Why hello!” Mrs. Colley’s carriage came to a halt. “Hop on. What are you girls still doing out this time of night?” Lacie looked at the ground. “Well….we kind-of stayed a bit too late at the party. But we sure enjoyed it!”

Hannah, who had been listening to the conversation, asked, “So, how do y’all like the Pershing’s? I sure do!”

Beth answered, “Yes, I do, too…even their brother, unlike like some people I know who won’t give him a chance…” she looked at Lacie.

“Oh?” Mrs. Colley raised her eyebrows, “do you know someone who has mixed feelings about Donald?” Firstly, she looked at her children, then at Ben, then the girls. How embarrassed Lacie was when, by the looks on everyone’s faces, they came to know that she was the one who wished Donald had never come!

“Why do you not like Donald?” Hannah asked.

“I didn’t say I didn’t like him, I am just afraid he is going to be a bigger troublemaker than Terry. “

“Oh, I don’t know if there could be anyone worse than Terry!” Caleb laughed. “You should give him a chance, Lacie. Remember what my dad often says in his sermons:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

That Caleb. He was always quoting Bible verses in conversation. Hannah and Ben, too. Caleb and Ben had a knack for quoting scriptures, so everyone who knew them predicted they would grow up to be evangelists. Lacie thought about that as Mrs. Colley volunteered to take the girls home in her carriage.

Topics for Discussion:

1. What is “hospitality”? Use a dictionary to define the word. How do you know that Lacie was a person who would be good at hospitality?

2. What does 1 Peter 4:9 say about our use of hospitality? Which girl do you think was a bit more “grudging” with her hospitality?

3. Use your dictionary again to define the word “prejudiced. There are lots of different ways we can pre-judge people in a way that is unfair and displeases God. Can you list some ways? Have you ever been prejudiced against someone before really knowing him or her?

4. Do you know anyone who hates to be wrong like Lacie? What does James 5:16 tell us we should do when we are wrong? Do you do this? Do you pray for others when they confess to you?

5. Once again, using your dictionary, write a definition of “retaliate.” Now turn to Romans 12:19, Whose job is it to retaliate?

6. According to verse 20, what is our responsibility toward those who may mistreat us?

Guest Writer: Ally Cole

This installment of “Bless Your Heart” is different from any previous posts. During the past three years or so, I have come to know a budding young writer named Ally L. Cole. Ally lives in Missouri and is thirteen years old. She loves to sing and play the guitar and has a keen interest in all things World War Two. She’s home-schooled, loves her co-op group and her family in the Lord. She loves her pot-bellied pig (in a different way, of course) and she doesn’t like to eat pork (Now why does she not like bacon?). She’s an inventor, artist, paintball prodigy and amateur movie producer. She loves Polishing the Pulpit and this year she plans to attend Horizons at FHU.

I’d like to share with you, over the next few installments, one of her stories. Some of you moms (with kids around the ages of 7-12) might want to read this tonight for your Family Bible Time. Let me know if your children enjoy it and we may share another story at a later date. Find the topics for discussion at the end of each segment. You may want to save those for a second night or maybe even discuss them for the next two or three nights. May God bless Ally and all of the children and teens who are growing up in Him! Thanks for the story, Ally! Remember me, your first publisher, when you are rich and famous!

SCHOOL DAYS
Chapter One

Fall had come upon the town of Brixey before anyone knew it. The trees were dressed in yellows, oranges, and reds. The day was bright and sunny for the Winters twins, Lacie and Kacie and their best friend Beth. The three had turned ten in the spring of 1935, and they were in the fifth grade at school. That was where the girls were headed. Their teacher, Mrs. Colley, had reminded them the previous day to be at school earlier the next day because there were going to be some new pupils. “I wonder who they are?” Beth asked Lacie. “I hope they are not just a bunch of boys come to dip my curls in inkwells! My mother would have a fit.”Beth had such a vivid imagination.

Lacie added, “Well, I suppose a bunch of boys would be alright, just so long as they don’t cause any trouble.”

When the three arrived at the schoolhouse, the richest kids in town were coming down the road: Terry and Jeanette Mauldin. “Now there’s some troublemakers right there!” Kacie quietly said. Terry and Jeanette had been attending the Brixey schoolhouse ever since Mrs. Colley established it, and they both were as mean as snakes. Inside the schoolhouse in their desks were Terry and Jeanette, Mrs. Colley’s children, Caleb and Hannah, and three kids that neither of the girls had ever seen before. There was a girl with long strawberry-blond braids and freckles, and beside her was an even younger girl with long blond braids and dimples. Far on their right was another new student; an unassuming boy.

“Well,” Lacie laughed, “at least it’s only one boy to dip your curls in an inkwell, Beth!”

After all of the pupils had arrived and everyone was seated, Mrs. Colley strode to the stage and clasped her hands. “Class, this is a special day. I am so happy to announce that we have three new students. Please welcome Donald, Amelia and Alice Pershing.”

The class began to applaud, but Terry interrupted. “Oh, puh-leeze, Mrs. Colley,” he said with a smirk as he stood. “Do these people really need an introduction?”

Of course, Terry was just being ornery, and Mrs. Colley knew it. “Hush, Terry. I want all of you to remember my golden rule: Treat everyone just as you want to be treated yourself.”

Suddenly Hannah raised her hand. “Um…..Mother?”

“Yes, Hannah what is it?” Mrs. Colley said.

“Would it be alright if Caleb and I go and get a drink of water? We won’t be long.”

Mrs. Colley sighed. “I suppose! But please, don’t take all day, will you?”

The two siblings hurried out the door, and Mrs. Colley went on. “Now, are there any questions you would like to ask Donald, Amelia or Alice?” Beth stood and nodded. “Yes, ma’am. Amelia, do you like to read books?”

“Oh, indeed I do!” Amelia smiled, “especially the fantasy kind.”

Mrs. Colley was glad to hear that someone was interested in the Pershing’s. “Fine, now is there anyone else?… Oh, where are those two children of mine! Class, please continue with your questions. I will be back in a moment with Caleb and Hannah. I didn’t think it would take that long to get a drink of water!” After she rushed down the aisle and out the door, Terry had a look of mischief on his face that meant he was up to something.

“Hey David, where do you live?”

“It-it’s Donald,” he said, “and we ain’t livin’ far from here. On a farm.”

“Oh.” Terry made his way to Donald’s desk. “I was just wondering, since you sure look like you’re homeless. And really, you can do away with that southern accent, because none of us here talk like that!”

He began snickering and trying to talk as if he were from the south, but in a very sarcastic way.

“Yeah,” Donald said, “I can tell you ain’t from around here. I reckon you’re from…..Illinois maybe?”

“How did you know!?!?!” Jeanette gasped,

Terry was surprised, too. “Yeah, how did you know? Oh, you probably saw my dad’s bank there one day while you were hopping trains!” Lacie could tell Donald was a bit fed up with Terry, but who wasn’t?

But Terry just kept right on making things worse. “Ohhh…. You’re a Rebel! That means your family was on the Confederate side? Well! I am for the Union!” That was when the trouble really began. Terry kept right on making fun of Donald’s strong southern accent. After a while, Donald couldn’t take it any longer.

Just as Mrs. Colley and her children were coming back inside Donald punched Terry in the eye.

“What on earth!?” Mrs. Colley exclaimed. “Donald, come to me this minute!” Donald gasped and looked at her sheepishly. “Now, what ever made you do such a dreadful thing as this?”

“Wehh-yull ma’am, that kid there was makin’ fun about my bein’ from the south. And I——I guess I couldn’t control my anger.”

Mrs. Colley was disappointed in her new student. “Donald, I am afraid I am going to have to send you home with a note. You should not have done that to Terry.” “Yes, ma’am,” Donald stared at the ground, “I know. It’s just that—“

“Oh, come on, Mrs. Colley! What about me? Look at what this country bumpkin did to my eye!”

But Mrs. Colley knew Terry a little too well. “Now Terry, I am tired of your attitude for the day. I may even send you home with a note as well.” The two boys were sent back to their desks.

Lacie liked Amelia and Alice, but there was no way she would ever be friends with Donald!

Let’s think about this:

1. Why is it important to be especially nice to people who may be new in a situation? Have you ever been the new person at school or in a class at church? What are some things that might make a new person uncomfortable? Read Acts 9: 1-27 and see what Barnabas did for a person who was new to the Christians at Jerusalem.

2. Why would the author (Ally) tell us that certain children were “mean as snakes”? Where, do you suppose, that expression originated? Why do we think of snakes as being mean? Can you think of a biblical reason why we think about snakes as being mean? Find some passages in the Bible that speak of snakes or serpents.

3. Do you know anyone who likes to cause trouble like Terry? Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” (Matthew 5:9). How was Terry’s behavior causing trouble rather than making peace? Ephesians 4: 31 says we are to put away clamor or drama from our lives? Do you think Terry’s behavior was rather dramatic when he interrupted the applause of the class? Do you know any drama queens? How can you tell if a girl is a drama queen? Is a drama queen a peacemaker or a trouble-causer? Which one is called a child of God in Matthew 5:9? Can you find a verse that tells us to be at peace with all men whenever it is possible? Use a concordance and see if you can find that verse.

4. Find the Golden Rule in your Bible and copy it on to an index card. Place this card on your refrigerator in a place where you will see it several times each day.

5. What are some of the reasons people make fun of other people? Have you ever met anyone who liked to make fun of other people? How should you react when someone is making fun of somebody? Is it really okay to laugh when someone is being mocked or ridiculed? Who is the most well-known person in the New Testament who was mocked? Who is it that we can never successfully mock? (See Galatians 6:7). Is mocking (making fun of) another person following the golden rule? Explain.

6. Was it okay for Donald to hit Terry? Is it ever okay for me to become angry and hit someone? In Titus 1:7 and I Timothy 3:3 we find that elders in the church are not to be strikers (or fighters). Why would it be important for an elder to be able to control his temper? Did Jesus ever hit anyone? Did anyone ever hit Jesus? If you think so, can you find that account in the Bible?

7. Is it possible to be angry and yet not sin? (See Ephesians 4:26.) What should we not allow to happen while we are angry?

While Time Is on my Side

First of all, don’t forget to send in your notes for the Encouragement Tree. If you’ve not read about how to participate, check out the post HERE. I am excited to hand off these notes to the various women. The response has been good!

Secondly, it’s rare that I post something written by someone else and even more seldom that I do so posthumously, but today I want to send a message from one of my three favorite women in the whole world. It’s from the year 1982. The writer was addressing her older brother. She was in her early fifties as she wrote and had already learned about the cancer that would eventually take her life. She had lost her mother a few months earlier and even more recently lost her father. I was working in my kitchen the other day and this letter fell from an old family cookbook. The letter was penned by my mother, Johnnia Duncan Holder, to my Uncle Clifford Smith. I think it contains some pretty powerful lessons about contentment, the brevity of life, and the urgency of saying things that need to be said. Is there someone to whom you need to express your love and appreciation while time is on your side? Do it during this holiday season.

Dear Clifford,

I’m sorry we could not get in touch with you when Frank died. I talked with Glenda during the time, but neither of us was able to reach you.

Clifford, if I can, I would like to have you and Estelle, along with the others, on the eleventh of September. I hope we can make this an annual event. It seems it would be a good time, since it is good, weather-wise, and would not interfere with each of our family holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, though I hope to see each of you sometime during these holidays, also. We have a few family things to take care of. I hope I can have Daddy’s insurance money for everybody by that time. Also, we can have a ball looking at the old family pictures and dividing them up. Plan to come early and spend the day or come the night before if you can. We have plenty of room. We now have two extra beds and a couch that makes a bed. I know, we only have one bath, but that’s one more than we were raised with (ha ha).

I’m looking forward to seeing you. If you can think of a better time and if this is not convenient, let me know.

Clifford, I have been made more aware this year than ever, of how precious time is, and how many things I leave undone. It seems I beat the wind for those things that really make no difference and leave undone the weightier matters. We will all too soon leave behind this world and all of the things therein, but will carry on with us the love we have for each other. Although I cannot spend as much time with all of you here as I want to, there is the comforting thought of the happy reunion in heaven where there is no measuring of time and the hope that our family will be 100% in attendance there. If only I could have the same hope for my own brood.

While time is still on my side, I cannot let this opportunity slip by without mentioning to you my love for you and yours. All of my life you have been a great source of love and encouragement to me.

My earliest memories are you. Not my mother or my daddy, but you. You were just a small boy, I know. But it is not that way in my memory. It seems like you were about grown and whatever you told me I knew it was right. You were the kind of baby-sitter money cannot buy. It certainly was not baby-sitting. It was running, cleaning, washing, ironing and still finding time, during it all, to talk to me. I remember the old well at the Gamble place where you had to draw water to do all the chores. Then all of these things were done by a mere lad, without the help of machines, and practically no toys to entertain the baby. But she was entertained in the finest way that even a princess couldn’t know; for indeed you made her believe a princess she really was.

As I grew older, it was you who set the example of obeying the gospel and, unlike you, I had known the truth for some time, but had not thought of it seriously until you set the example for me, and when I learned you were going to obey the Lord, I thought seriously along spiritual matters and decided to be baptized also and live my life in the service of the Savior.

Since that time, You have always been, as you were in the past, a great help, joy, and source of comfort in time of need.

I hope I haven’t bored you with these old sentimental reflections of the past, but I just wanted you to know I love you.

Your sister,

Johnnia

(I’m very glad for my wonderful Uncle Clifford who, by his obedience, encouraged my mother to walk in the ways of my Lord. I obviously owe him a great and eternal debt. And, by the way, if any of you Duncan-Smiths are reading, how about another reunion in the fall of 2013? Sometime around September 10th, maybe?)

The Unchanging Truth about Abortion

In recent weeks, and especially since last Tuesday, the point has been recurring to me that God’s people should have been speaking their values more frequently and more loudly for the past four decades. Perhaps if we had been more vocal back when it was fairly easy and acceptable to speak about God’s will for man, people with moral virtue would have remained the majority in America. We often knew the right things to do and some even practiced them in our homes, but most of us have surely been remiss in expressing truth at the crucial times and to the people who most needed to hear. You are aware, as am I, that when good people do nothing, evil wins by default.

Recently I ran across the following manuscript of a speech given by my son Caleb when he was in high school. With this speech, he represented the state of Tennessee at the conference of The National Right to Life. He was blessed, thereafter, to be able to speak this message in many venues. Whenever I reread it, I am reminded of the responsibility that’s ours not only to believe truth, but to promote it daily with our spoken and written words, with our monetary gifts and with every ability to influence others. This is especially true when our influence has the propensity to save innocent lives.

So today I give you Caleb Colley in a retro-message from his high school days. But, as he says…”Truth doesn’t change.”

I remember the day that I lost my innocence about universal parental love. See, in my kindergarten mind, I thought all babies had families who couldn’t wait for them to be born. After all, when I was three years old, the upcoming birth of my baby sister was the topic of much delightful discussion, from dinner-table chats to deep prayer for her safety and health.

The early stages of childhood, for me, were an amazing adventure of sharing, learning, and vibrant living. So, by the time I was in kindergarten, it still hadn’t occurred to me that there could be innocent babies who, because of choices made by their mothers, were not even given the chance to experience growing up.

Then that day came. One afternoon, my family and I went to a busy metro area of a large city and stood in a long line of people. We were all holding up signs, and I remember that I heard my parents say things about ‘abortion.’ As I didn’t have any idea what was going on, it was only natural for my simple, childish questions to come. And I got answers. No, some of the answers about specific abortion procedures weren’t too graphic, but I learned enough on that day to let me know that I hated abortion.

My first question was quickly crafted. “What is abortion?” My parents explained to me that abortion was when an expectant mother decided she didn’t want to have her baby, and so the baby was killed—the end of my innocence. As I have gotten a little older, I have learned that there are various, very advanced methods of taking young and innocent human life. One common procedure is called “suction abortion.” This method is used during the first three months of pregnancy. Another is called “dilation and extraction,” a procedure only used after thirteen weeks of pregnancy. In dilation and extraction, the unborn child is dismembered with plier-like forceps. Partial-birth abortions are used from the fourth month through the end of the ninth month of pregnancy. You know, these are the ones that actually deflate the brains of babies —even full-term babies who’ve already traveled through the birth canal and have even begun their exit. So vicious is this procedure that twice in the last decade, both houses of our legislature have banned this kind of abortion only to have that ban vetoed by a pro-abortion president. These late-term abortions are regularly used to kill healthy babies who, it has been scientifically proven, pose no danger or threat to their mother. Saline amniocentesis is used after sixteen weeks, and it is a process of injecting a concentrated salt solution into the amniotic fluid. The baby breathes and swallows it and dies over an hour later of acute salt poisoning. There are at least four other common methods of abortion, including chemical abortions such as the kind women induce when they take the new abortion pill, RU-486.

At five years old, I had no idea how available abortion was for a mother who chose death instead of birth. I hadn’t yet considered the fact that she could do it without anybody but the doctor, his assistants, and the Lord knowing it even ever happened. Amazing how a procedure so private and one so vaguely understood by a young woman or teenager could create such large ghosts of guilt later in life.

Another question followed inevitably. “Why would a mom want to kill her baby?” Maybe she is not ready for the way becoming a parent will change her life; it would be hard to keep her job, continue her education and care for her other children, or she can’t afford a baby. The list goes on. In rare cases, health issues may even be a concern.

But really, let’s be honest. Right now, 95% of all abortions are convenience abortions. Oh, lots of reasons may be on her mental list, but they can likely all be summarized by the word inconvenient.

So next I asked, “What can I do to try to change the mother’s mind?” The answer for me when I was five years old was that we can be heard in those city-wide life chains. We can tell young women about responsible choices like adoption. We can pray for our leaders who can make big decisions to limit and hopefully one day stop the killing. We can love and respect all human life, because life doesn’t have to be productive to society to be sacred.

Now I’m older, and things are a little different. I can get involved in church and community programs that are actively and non-violently protesting to government officials and against abortion providers. I can be heard in letters to news editors. And I can still offer my prayers to the Almighty God that He will give the cause strength and growth, and that He will help us all to be ready to defend innocent life—a principle at the very heart of liberty in this country.

I was five. I hadn’t yet been introduced to many of the horrors of a grown-up world. I was five. I could comprehend simple truths my parents were teaching me like, “Never pick on someone because he’s small,” and “The right thing may not always be the easiest thing.” I learned amazingly powerful and simple lessons from Scripture, like, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When I was five, I also was being introduced to one of my favorite authors. You know him too. He’s Doctor Seuss, and you’ve probably read some of his practical life-lessons for kids, like this one from Yertle The Turtle: “I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom, we too should have rights.” In Horton Hears a Who!, Dr. Seuss dutifully explained that “a person’s a person no matter how small.” You see, statistics change. Laws change. Procedures change and evolve, but the simple truths are still the same as when I was five. Truth doesn’t evolve with society. Truth is not flexible. It is eternal. But we must all personally care about truth. It was Dr. Seuss who said, in The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”