Archive for Spiritual Growth Articles
A friend of mine has a saying, “I’m going to get as old as I possibly can get.” From what I can tell, he has. I must agree with his sentiment. Of course, the alternative is… well you know. Another friend of mine likes to tell me, “Brother, you’re only as old as you feel.” I am not sure how old feels or if wrinkles are involved. But, I am feeling quite fine, thank you.
Just the other day the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came in from her workshop, sat down on the couch and said, “Whew, I feel like a hundred.”
At the time, I did not know if she was talking about dollars, pounds or years. Being the old fogey that I am, I know there are times when silence is golden and this was one of those golden moments. But, what does a hundred feel like? Is there some special sensation that pulsates through the body when a person reaches that age level? Or, is it the absence of anything pulsating through your body?
Just this morning I got up with a sore knee and could hardly walk to the bathroom. I complained about it to my wife, who has no compunction about expressing her opinions, said, “Well, you are older than when you went to bed last night.”
I did not know I was aging so rapidly. If this keeps up, I will change from an old fogey into an old geezer before I know it. The difference between an old fogey and an old geezer is, an old fogey walks around in a fog while the old geezer cannot get up from his chair and wheezes a lot.
I was musing on the idea that getting old was a lot of trouble with a lot of pain involved. Then I remembered what a lot of trouble and pain it was to be young. As a youngster, I thought many times, “Oh, I can’t wait to get old.” I thought getting older was the panacea for all of my problems.
I remember thinking that when I got older nobody would boss me around. I would do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. I could not wait for that time to come. I dreamed of that mystical land. No parents to boss me around; no teachers to tell me what to do and when to do it; no siblings interfering with my plans for the day. What a life I would lead when I got older. I lived each day hoping to get older which, in my thinking, was the door into that area. Read More→
Many things in life have me in a tangle of confusion. I try to put on a good face so that nobody knows how confused I am at the time. I think I get away with it, at least most of the time.
The only person I cannot fool is the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. According to her evaluation, I am confused all the time. I would like to set her straight sometime, but I am really confused as to when would be the right time.
If I do not pick the right time, my confusion will be accelerated to the point of no return.
There is one thing, despite my professional confusion, I have not been able to understand. And it just bugs me to no end. Why are some things more confusing than others?
There is a positive side to confusion.
For example, someone is trying to explain to me something that is rather boring I can say, “That’s too confusing for me.”
What that does is help the other person think that he’s a lot better than I am which is not a bad thing to get out of some boring situation at the time. Believe it or not, this is not too confusing for me.
Another side of this would be, somebody wants me to explain something and I am not really in the mood to do a lot of explaining, I say many confusing things and the person comes to the point where he says, “That’s too confusing for me.”
Winning is so wonderful.
Not long ago, I overheard somebody say, “Is that cup half full or half empty?”
For some reason I just cannot get that out of my head and it has confused me like nothing else in my life.
If, for example, a cup is half-full is it not also half-empty? And, if it is half-empty is it also half-full?
I do not know if this is intentional confusion or if it is not supposed to make any sense at all. Read More→
It hardly seems possible that another Christmas has come and gone. I think it comes quicker than it goes, but then that is just my opinion.
We were sitting for the last time around the Christmas tree which was about to be disassembled and I happen to say, “I can’t believe Christmas is over. Where does the time go?”
To that, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage looked at me and said, “The older you get, the faster time goes.”
I remember as if it was yesterday when without thinking, which is usually dangerous for me, I once responded, “You must know.”
I got the “stare” that encouraged me not to respond in that vein ever again.
However, and you didn’t hear it from me, she is right. She is always right. The older I get, the faster time seems to go. I cannot believe that not only is Christmas past, but the whole year is passed. It is all just history now.
But, oh, what history it was.
Sometimes it is interesting to think back over the past year and remember some of the great occasions. By great occasions, I mean the minuses and the pluses. Some memories are good and some memories are, well, you know.
This is the genius of getting older. Now that I have another Christmas under my belt, I can mesh together two or three Christmases as though it was one Christmas occasion. After all, who is going to know, apart from the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage?
Whenever I begin the phrase, “I remember a Christmas when…” I need to look at my wife to see if she is listening. Of course, if she is not listening, I can go along and invent my own Christmas tree story. I like to do that.
There was the time when I first did this without noticing my wife was listening and at every turn of my story, she corrected me. By the time I was done telling “our” story, I did not remember what I said. Read More→
One word defines Christmas. It is the word “merry.” I never tire of wishing people a Merry Christmas. Although, for some, it may not be politically correct, but for the rest of us who have at least two gray cells working, it is wonderful.
I was relaxing one afternoon this past week when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage approached me with a request. It is very difficult for me to deny her request, even though it goes against my current energy status.
“Would you,” she said so very sweetly, “go to the mall and pick up a gift that I had ordered?”
Being married to GMP for more years than I can remember, is very difficult for me to say no. Actually, even when I do say no, someone on the other end of the conversation is not listening.
I should be rather grateful, because of all of the husbands she has, I am the only one she asks to do favors. Through the years, I have gathered that I must be her favorite husband. So, in a really grateful frame of mind, not to mention merry, I headed for the mall to get her purchase.
I am not sure if there is another place in the whole world that I hate worse than going to a shopping mall. If there is, I haven’t got there yet. Every time I walk into a shopping mall, I get nervous because everybody is looking at me, especially at my wallet. Even my wallet shivers when we walk through the opening door.
Just getting inside the shopping mall is a drain on my “merry” attitude. I figured before I really get started I should grab a cup of coffee and go sit down in a lounge chair.
There was a coffee shop in the mall and I got a $0.79 cup of coffee for $7.90. I guess where you put the decimal is really important. Personally, I would have enjoyed a $0.79 cup of coffee more.
I got my coffee, sat down in one of the lounge chairs, took a deep breath, a nice gentle sip of hot coffee and started to relax. Christmas music was being played in the background, which contributed to my relaxing attitude.
The mall was rather crowded, people were hurrying here and there, in the background Merry Christmas music was being played and I thought I would just take the time and enjoy the moment.
After I got through about half of my coffee, I happened to look around carefully watching the people coming and going. There was such a rat race going on that I could hardly believe it. I looked around trying to find some Merry Christmas faces. Unfortunately, there was not any in the direction I was looking.
“I hope they don’t run out of this before I get there,” I heard someone complaining.
“I hope I have enough money to cover this,” someone else complained.
“I hope I can get it in time to get to the party tonight,” complained another person.
I listen to all of this and was simply amazed. Where in the world was this merry spirit that Christmas is most noted for? Everybody was hoping for something, but their hope did not seem too realistic from my point of view.
At the merriest time of the year sitting in a place where people were buying Christmas presents, it was very disconcerting to realize there were not that many merry people in the mall. Everyone seemed to be under some kind of pressure and aggravation.
A thought began to jingle in my mind. What would it take for some people to really experience a Merry Christmas? What would make them merry?
Taking another sip of this expensive “Merry Christmas” coffee, I began to think about life in general. Am I really living a merry life? Or, am I all caught up with the holiday season?
Just because someone says, “Merry Christmas” does not mean in fact that they are experiencing anything quite near to merry.
Watching people scramble here and there in the shopping mall, I realized that merry had nothing to do with Christmas. For so many people, Christmas is a time when you are so busy trying to get things to make other people “merry” that the whole spirit escapes.
What we really need during this particular holiday season is what I call, The Merrification of Christmas. Christmas is what it is, but there is the possibility of really having a Merry Christmas if you understand what the attitude of merry is all about.
It is not about gifts, or parties, or traveling. It is something more substantial than that. In order for me to Merrificate my life, I need something more than just the holiday spirit.
Weaving through the crowd at the mall, I picked up the item my wife sent me to pick up and headed for the parking lot. As I was going, I realized why I really did not like the mall, especially during the holiday season. Too many people are struggling with anxiety and frustration in trying to keep up with the Christmas Joneses.
I thought of what Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The key ingredient of “Merry” is rest and only Jesus can give the rest that creates a merry spirit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, FL 34483, where he lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Website is www.jamessnyderministries.com.
I will grant I have a few eccentricities. But, far less than the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has avowed through the years. Listening to her, a person might come to believe my eccentricities are without limit. It is simply not the case.
I firmly believe one man’s eccentricity is another man’s way of doing something. After all, everybody has a way of doing everything they do. If that is eccentric, we all have a lot of ‘plaining to do.
If the tables were turned, I could make an equally infinite list of eccentricities associated with my wife. Since she set the table, who am I to turn it? I keep this as a secret stash to revel in occasionally when I am feeling a little poorly about myself. The secret will go no further.
An example might best illustrate my point. My wife thinks I am a little eccentric when it comes to pens. But, not so. I am just particular when it comes to using a writing instrument. After all, I am a writer and writers are experts when it comes to writing instruments. I could not play a musical instrument, but let me have a writing instrument and I can play all day long.
When it comes to writing instruments, I have my preferences. When I say that, I must confess, I have never seen a pen I did not want to own. The pen, any pen for that matter, has something of an alluring draw for me. I sometimes go into an office-supply store just to worship before the array of pens they have. Rarely do I walk away without taking one pen to the checkout counter and rescue it from obscurity.
I possess pens of every shape, color and purpose. As far as I am concerned, every pen has a particular purpose. I always carry on my person a variety of pens with a diversity of ink colors because you never know what you are going to write doing the day. It would be beneath my dignity to use a pen for a purpose other than its intended task. Read More→
Noise has become a daily experience for many people today. From morning until night, we are surrounded by noise of all kinds. People have gotten accustomed to an atmosphere of noise. For my part, I am just a little bit tired of all the noise. What would life be like if there was silence?
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were relaxing on the back porch after supper, drinking our coffee and enjoying the evening. Nothing quite compares to drinking coffee on the back porch after a hard day. Then my wife said something that startled me.
“Do you hear that?”
I listened and strained my ears but I could not hear anything. If my wife says there is something to hear, then there is something to hear. I strained my ears as much as possible, but to no effect.
“Don’t you hear that?” She said once more.
For the life of me, I did not hear anything and was beginning to think she was trying to pull one over on me. She does that occasionally and catches me. She thinks it’s rather funny, although I laugh along with her, I am not laughing on the inside.
Finally, I said, “What are you talking about? I don’t hear anything.”
She was staring across the backyard as though she was looking at something.
“Don’t you hear that silence?”
Personally, I did not know you could hear silence, but I was not going to argue with her at the time. I stared in the direction she was staring and still could not figure out what she was talking about.
Then it came to me.
Across our backyard several crickets were chirping. Normally I do not hear those crickets, but I could hear them loud and clear from where I was setting. What they were singing I am not quite sure, but I enjoyed listening to them at the time. It sounded so serene and peaceful.
Sometimes our life is so crowded with other things that we do not hear some of the more quiet things. The noise around us crowds out some of the quietness in our life.
“Okay,” I said with a grin, “I hear the silence now.”
I suppose crickets chirp all the time, particularly the ones in our backyard, but I do not always hear it. For the next hour, my wife and I quietly listened to those crickets chirping and we enjoyed every moment of it. Read More→
Between now and the end of the year our house is going to be a mad dash for the stores in preparation for Christmas.
This time of the year, I lay low and try to be as invisible as possible. If I hide in the shadows of the parsonage and do not speak, I am in pretty good shape. I have been practicing this for over 40 years, so I have reached a certain level of proficiency.
Having a wife and two daughters has been a challenge, especially at this time of the year. My son and I have survived and so I am sure I will make it through another year. However, I am not taking anything for granted.
I am somewhat of a competitive person, in some degree. I like a good challenge and I certainly like to win. Going up against the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has not been a successful competition. Even when she loses, so to speak, she wins. When she wins, I also win, so why should I complain?
The contest at this time of the year is to see how much money these ladies of the parsonage can save. I have not kept track over the years for obvious reasons, so I do not know who is ahead and who is behind.
I would not say that they were Shopaholics, but I am pretty sure they are. From my point of view, I am in no position to challenge them on this serious addiction. To challenge them thusly, would require several weeks in a rehabilitation center for myself. Who wants to go there during the holidays?
I try not to keep track, but I believe it all begins with what is called “Black Friday.” I am not sure why it is called “Black Friday” because after it is all over my checkbook is in deep red.
On this audacious holiday, if it can be called a holiday, I keep out of their way.
They will start early in the morning and throughout the day they will come home to unload and boast to me about how much money they saved. Then, off they go back on the shopping trail. For my part, I would never want to stand between them and their shopping destination because, I just have grown accustomed to living.
Although I am not much into shopping, I know when to shop and when not to shop. The purpose of my shopping is not to see how much I can save. If I want to save money, I will stay home and drink a nice hot cup of coffee.
Halfway through the shopping season, my wife and I were sitting in the living room drinking our evening coffee and she was explaining to me her shopping plan. The more she talked the less I understood. I did not know you needed a plan to go shopping. My plan is very simple, do not go shopping! Read More→
I know I am not correct on many things, just ask the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. If I could be right as many times as I am wrong, I would be a genius. The problem is, I am more wrong than I am right, which puts me a little bit out of balance.
People always say things they really do not mean. I guess they are just trying to be nice and courteous.
For instance. My wife will say as I leave the door to go somewhere, “Drive safely.”
I do not know what that means. Does she think I am going to drive like an idiot? Well, maybe that is not a good illustration.
Another one is, if you are going to a party someone will say, “Have fun.”
Does that mean they are under the impression that you are not going to have fun unless you are enticed? Why do people always say things like that?
We always say things that we do not mean.
Of course, I am always a little guarded about certain things my wife may say to me. The most infamous one would be, “Does this dress make me look fat?” I am not sure who came up with that one, but their head was not spinning in the right direction.
After thinking about that for a little bit I am under the impression that if anyone asks me that question, particularly if it is my wife, they are not looking for the right answer. They are looking for a compliment.
Is it more important to tell the truth or to encourage someone? That has always been my dilemma.
One question has bugged me for a long time. I must confess that I have done it myself, but it still bugs me. It is when we meet somebody and say, “Hello, how are you doing?”
Why do we say something like that? Whenever I asked somebody how they are doing, I really do not want them to tell me how they are doing. I am trying to be courteous and friendly. I do not want to know the details of their life. Read More→
I am not one easily rattled. When I am rattled, look out for anything can happen.
For the most part, I try to stay calm, cool and collected. Then there are times when I have had enough and I am not going to take it anymore.
When I am rattled about something, it is not small or insignificant. I can swat pesky little bugs all of my life and never get rattled by a bug.
Lately, some things have been developing “in my world,” that has me more than a little concern. In fact, it is bordering on the territory of being rattled. Something needs to be done because if I am rattled in this area, look out!
I am not sure, if I am just now noticing it or if it has been here for a while. When I got my cell phone, I was under the impression the only people who would have my cell phone number would be those I gave it to. I am not one to give out my cell phone number to just anybody. If you have my cell phone number, you are in a high-level category of BFFs.
I believe sincerely that the devil has hacked into my cell phone, collected my cell phone number and is selling my number to the most despicable people he owns.
Lately, I have been getting political calls. People trying to interview me concerning the up coming election. They want me to contribute to political polls being evaluated. They want my opinion and they have a whole slew of questions they are going to be asking me.
I know they do not want my opinion because all of these calls are what is called Robo calls. In other words, is not an actual person asking these questions, but rather a machine. If you think for one moment that I am going to carry on a conversation with some machine, you do not have all your wires connected.
How they get my cell phone number, is beyond me. It probably is their close connection with the devil himself.
I have also been getting calls from some company that feels I am in some sort of pain. They call and say I requested on their website this pain solution. Now, what they want to know is it my back pain, or elbow pain, or a knee pain? Read More→
This week I came face-to-face with a genuine dilemma. I had several meetings across town and for some reason I miscalculated and ended up with a 2-1/2 hour gap between meetings. I hate to waste time, but if I drove back to my office, I would simply have to return to my meeting later and with the cost of gas these days, one cannot be too cautious.
You know gas is getting high when it costs more to fill up the car than the car is actually worth. The most valuable thing in my car is in my gas tank.
I remedied the situation by stopping in a small coffee shop for a cup of Joe. As far as I am concerned, there is no bad time to have a cup of coffee, in spite of the price. I ordered my coffee and when the waitress brought it, I began to think about coffee. Why did God give us coffee?
Then my mind went back to my grandfather, whose greatest gift to me was a love of coffee. Nobody loved coffee more. I remember one of his favorite quotes, “You can always tell a man by the coffee he drinks.”
Anathema to my grandfather was the idea of instant coffee. No man, in his opinion, would ever drink anything of the kind. “If a man would drink instant coffee,” my grandfather perked, “there’s no telling what else he would do. Never trust a man who drinks instant coffee.”
Making coffee was an art form to my grandfather. There was a right way and a wrong way to make coffee, and he always insisted on the right way. Of course, the right way was his way.
In grandfather’s kitchen was an old wood-burning cook stove. My grandmother cooked meals on this ancient apparatus for more than 50 years. On this old-fashioned stove, my grandfather brewed his famous mud broth. He never allowed my grandmother to make the brew; it was his job, which he took seriously.
Once for his birthday, we all chipped in and bought him an electric coffee pot. I had never seen my grandfather so mad. When he saw what it was, he would not even take it out of the box. Read More→